Chef Brannon Janca opens Down Island Gulf Seafood Restaurant

SANTA ROSA BEACH – Chef Brannon Janca opened Down Island Seafood Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach Jan. 11. This modern casual restaurant serves primarily Gulf South cuisine, driven by technique to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Guests can expect elevated regional favorites that are simply and thoughtfully prepared. The menu features wood-fired Gulf seafood in an Italian brick pizza oven as well as various raw bar selections including regional oysters. The staple seafood selections are fish, oysters, shrimp and crab.

Bar area
In addition to the downstairs area (pictured), private parties of up to 50 are welcomed upstairs.

Stefani Janca, Brannon’s wife, is a registered and licensed dietitian, so guests can expect plenty of options for non-seafood lovers and accommodations for those with special diets. Down Island is family-friendly and has a kid’s menu with classic favorites. The team at Down Island strives to be inclusive to all and welcomes the opportunity to take care of you as if you were dining in their own home.

Down Island, which is located at the former site of Dave’s Glas Haus, can accommodate private parties of up to 50 people in the upstairs dining space, dubbed Ocean’s Loft in memory of Janca’s late brother, Ocean (Shannon). This space is handicap accessible by elevator and also features a separate bar, bathroom and exterior entrance/stairwell. Ocean’s Loft, as well as the entire restaurant, is available for rental. Down Island also offers small party boutique catering.

Down Island is located at the former site of Dave’s Glas Haus, and Janca has tried to preserve as much of the original structure as possible.

Janca has a unique and artistic approach to food and design and is known for revolutionizing casual dining. He spent the last 16 years building a successful company (Word of Mouth Restaurant Group) with over 150 employees in three states. In January of 2018, Janca decided to get back to his true passion, his love of cooking and hospitality. He quit his job, found an old building on highway 98, and spent the next few years renovating it into his dream restaurant alongside Stefani, and with the support and encouragement of his mother, Trudi.

Photos by Jaqueline Ward