By Liesel Schmidt
June 15, 2023
ALYS BEACH – Since opening in 2008, George’s at Alys Beach has been a name synonymous with upscale fare in a stunning location, with a singular uniqueness that shakes up the “upscale” aspect to make it fun – starting with the iconic frog that is their logo. A quirky reference to the restaurant’s founding owners and an amusing story involving a wedding gift that somehow featured frogs, the amphibian that has become inexorably linked with George’s hearkens to the restaurant’s dedication to maintaining its distinctive personality.
A “casually coastal” setting surrounded on three sides by porches that give the place a quintessentially Southern feel, George’s also boasts its very own Lily Pad, a charming courtyard area offering dining space and a breathtaking view of 30A and Alys Beach.
“Our charming beach cottage provides the perfect backdrop for dinner with friends and family,” said Christy Spell Terry, who has co-owned the restaurant as part of Spell Restaurant Group since 2015. “Guests can dine indoors in our airy and cozy dining room or enjoy the beautiful Florida sunshine on the side porches or the covered or uncovered patio areas. For days when the wait list is lengthy, a rooftop viewing deck is open for guests to have a drink and look out over beautiful Alys Beach.”
As casual as the atmosphere was created to be, the food is what one might consider to be on the high-brow side, though the menu takes any sense of pretentiousness and replaces it with tongue-in-cheek wit. The format is divided into two parts: “Behave” and “Misbehave” – the decadent side balanced by healthier options. Both focus on the flavors and ingredients available on the Gulf Coast while enhancing them with their chef’s own global twist, making it a close decision in which side of the menu will win out.
For those determined to “Behave,” the menu offers items such as the Salmon BLT Wrap and the Kentuckyaki Vegan Stir Fry, two choices that are deceptively diet-conscious while still tasting absolutely wicked. For those feeling the urge to “Misbehave,” decadent items like George’s famous – and best-selling – dish Spicy Salt & Pepper Shrimp are a hit, featuring grilled shrimp, charred Brussels sprouts, snow peas and melon atop basmati rice, finished with a creamy house-made Thai vinaigrette.
“It’s our most popular item,” said Spell Terry. “More than 14,000 orders were sold in 2021!”
The mastermind behind the menu is Executive Chef Camille Withall, a talented chef whose Filipino background gave her foundational knowledge of native flavors, combined with a technique she learned from her mother. After attending the culinary arts program at the American Hospitality Academy in Manila, she moved to the U.S. in 2008 for an internship in Destin, where she honed her skills at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, followed by a tenure at Restaurant Fire in Grayton Beach, where she learned Napa-style, farm-to-table cuisine with a strong Southern influence. She joined the team at George’s in 2014 as sous chef and advanced to executive chef in 2015.
All that talent in the kitchen is mirrored by the quality of service in the front of house.
“Our service team works hard to make each and every guest feel welcome,” Spell Terry explained. “While our dishes are elevated, we serve them in an atmosphere that allows for our guests to feel relaxed while dining with us. What really sets George’s apart from other restaurants in the area is the love and care we show our guests.
“Because many guests visit the area annually or several times a year, we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with them. It has been such a joy to see families grow over the years and to see guests return time and time again. At the end of the day, we want everyone to feel at home here at George’s.”
George’s at Alys Beach is located at 30 Castle Drive, Alys Beach. Open daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m; and 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are not accepted. For more information, call 850-641-0017 or visit www.georgesatalysbeach.com.