Mike and Linda LaDow opened Cocoon's Deli on County Road 30A in Seagrove in March 1992 when there was no place to eat in that area but Bruno's Pizza and Seagrove Village Market.
After 21 years of serving the community, the LaDows have sold the property to neighbors Kevin and Nicole McKee, owners of Big Fish Bike Rentals. The McKees plan to keep the deli open and move their bike rental business there also.
The McKees moved from Memphis to Seagrove in 2000 after vacationing there in 1999 and opened Big Fish Bike Rentals in 2001.
"1999 was our first time on 30A," said Nicole. "When we returned to Memphis, Kevin said we need to move there. I said he was crazy, but we sold our condo in Memphis and moved."
Through the years the McKees have enjoyed eating at Cocoons and loved his biscuits and gravy, sandwiches, shrimp salad, and of course, his famous smoked tuna dip.
"I know a lot of locals don't want to see it go, so, we will do everything we can to keep it going," said Nicole.
Nicole said she wants to keep some of Mike's best selling dishes and plans to add a few of her own from Memphis.
"I have an amazing shrimp recipe I got from a restaurant in Memphis, and I have a lot of knowledge about food, so, we will see," she said. "We are really excited. It will be awesome."
The McKees are also considering living over the business as the LaDows have done for all these years.
LaDow was an executive living in Birmingham and working in the food marketing industry when he came down here to visit in 1985. He bought a condo on his second day.
"I remember sitting in airports and on airplanes working on a business plan to escape the corporate world," he said. "I got tired of getting on airplanes every Sunday and not returning home until Friday. I wanted to escape."
While considering his business plan LaDow thought of author Faith Popcorn's use of the word "cocooning" to describe the way many people go out and pick up food to take back to their place and cocoon. He decided that was the concept he wanted to build on when he opened his own business.
The LaDows bought the building where Cocoon's is with the goal of living over their business, which they have done for 21 years.
They have served 18 different salads, dips, barbecue, pulled pork, meatloaf, hot sauces, jams and jellies over the years to a variety of major sports figures and singer/songwriters, as well as locals.
It was a bit lonely in the early days, however, said LaDow.
"I sat in a chair outside and caught up on my reading until someone stopped by," he said.
His adult children followed him down here and both now live nearby.
LaDow has many memories of owning and running Cocoon's, but the best is of being among the people here who have shaped and formed the community.
"I have sat on the board at Eden," he recalls. "I remember me and Bad Byron (Chism) putting on a very successful barbecue event there and 8,000 people showing up. The customers who have come in ... we have served everyone from millionaires to construction workers, and everyone is happy to be here."
LaDow said he hopes the new owners will keep the deli open and all of his long-time customers will still be able to get his famous smoked tuna dip.
LaDow's last day of business as Cocoon’s founder and owner will be Sept. 15. The real estate closing and passing of the baton will be Sept 16.
LaDow hopes all his faithful customers will stop in at 4101 E County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, and say goodbye as the LaDows step into their retirement years.