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Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant and Rooftop Bar

A trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast is not complete without a visit to Bud & Alley’s. We caught up with executive chef David Bishop to find out what keeps locals and tourists alike coming back for more.

If you had to describe Bud & Alley’s in just a few words, what would they be?

I would call it Southern coastal cuisine with a focus on local flavors and Gulf seafood.

How did the restaurant get started?

The restaurant was started in 1987 by Scott Witcoski and Dave Rauschkolb [years later, Rauschkolb bought out Witcoski and is now the sole owner]. The name comes from Witcoski’s cat (Alley) and town founder Robert Davis’ dog (Bud). About 10 years ago, Dave Rauschkolb added Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar and Taco Bar to vary our offerings.

How does Bud & Alley’s fit into the dining scene in Seaside?

We are the anchor, the oldest restaurant in Seaside. When people come to town, they head down to the beach and go straight to Bud & Alley’s. We are right on the water. People love to come sit up on the deck and watch the incredible sunsets over the gulf, eat great food and drink a cocktail. We have a vintage cast-iron bell that we ring every evening at sunset—it’s become a tradition.

What are some of the signature dishes on your menu?

People love our crab cakes, which we prepare as simply as possible with no filler, to keep the crab as the star. We pan-fry them and serve them over greens with a little lemon-butter sauce. Our whole roasted fish are also popular. We stuff the fish with lemon and thyme, roast it on a bed of salt, then serve [it] on a bed of arugula with a side of beans and boiled potatoes. For our Barbequed Head-On Shrimp, we use andouille sausage, garlic and rosemary, and serve them with a white-wine-and-butter sauce and grilled Tuscan bread. It’s not the cleanest dish, because we encourage you to use your hands to pull the heads off. Being right on the coast, we try to stay focused on seasonal Gulf seafood. It’s not too difficult if you know what is in season; you can adjust your menu to that.

What items do you typically source from Sysco?

We buy Sail brand Gulf shrimp from Sysco, and we use a ton of those. Also, we get fish, including grouper, trigger fish [and] golden tile from a local supplier called Abrams Seafood out of Panama City, through Sysco. The quality is beautiful—fresh off the boat. Sysco is our main supplier for staple items. We get all of our dry goods and some produce, too. We have so much volume that it’s easier to go through one purveyor, whether it’s dairy, frozen items, etc.

How has Sysco been an integral partner in your success?

Matt Sheidy, our Sysco Sales Consultant, is great about finding products that I would like to use. I’ll mention something to him about a seafood or produce item I’d like to try, and Matt will go out of his way to find the best product and best possible deal for Bud & Alley’s. It just makes it so much easier for me to know that he has our best interests at heart.

What are your plans for the future?

We are in the process of remodeling the Taco Bar, so it is in a temporary location about 100 feet away, and we are also going to redesign the upper deck of the restaurant. But the business will continue to operate as it always has. We will still be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bud & Alley’s is here to stay.