It's hard to believe it now, but a great day of surfing almost robbed Seaside of one its most popular and iconic locations.
Owner Dave Rauschkolb and his former partner Scott Witcoski opened the restaurant in 1986 when they were both in their mid-20s.
Robert Davis, the founder and developer of Seaside, had approached Witcoski with the location of a vacant restaurant whose previous owner “skipped out of town” after only four months.
“We were going surfing one day in Panama City, and he asked me if I wanted to stop by, and I didn’t because the surf was really good," Rauschkolb said. "But we did and met Robert Davis and got to see his vision and, I guess as they say, the rest is history.”
The two were thrilled to help pioneer Seaside and 30A and decided to name the restaurant after Davis’ dog, Bud, and Witcoski’s cat, Alley.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to have amazing food in an amazing location with really, really good service, and consistency is our hallmark,” Rauschkolb said.
In 2006, Rauschkolb bought out his partner and a few years later opened a taco and pizza bar.
“We were partners for 20 years, and I’m proud to say we’re still friends,” Rauschkolb said.
Rauschkolb said he loves working with talented people who have the same vision as he does and is glad to have Chef David Bishop, who has ran the behind-the-scene operations for 12 years.
“Bud & Alley’s is a great place to work," Bishop said. "Dave fosters that family atmosphere to where it makes it conducive to where you want to come to work.
"Business is good," he added. "… Our staff realizes that they may see that the grass might be greener somewhere else, but after awhile, give them like three months, and they’re coming back.”
Rauschkolb said that in the early days, Bud & Alley’s would only have about three busy months each year. Now, they only have about six to eight slow weeks a year.
“We could change Bud & Alley’s, but we haven’t much,” Rauschkolb said. “Dave (Bishop) has creative license over the menu. He has amazing things that he puts out on the menu every year, but those staples will always maintain that sort of tradition.”
Some of their main dishes include crab cakes, whole roasted fish and a smoked tuna dip.
Rauschkolb credited his restaurant's success to a solid family-oriented foundation and looks forward continuing Bud & Alley’s farm-to-table ethic for years to come.
Going forward, Bud & Alley’s is about to take on a big expansion project.
Within the next two years, the Seaside venue is planning to expand their roof deck, add a roadside bar, build a two story bathroom, elevator and tower, and add a single-story building to house their taco and pizza bar’s kitchens.