The Back Porch opened in 1974 as a single A-frame building. Although the building has seen some additions over the 40-plus years, the screech of the same wooden floors that have withstood hurricanes in times past is the very echo of fond memories that keep locals coming back for more.
In a building that has withstood several significant hurricanes since 1974, long-time employees of The Back Porch also remain.
The gumbo undoubtedly tastes just as good as it did 20 years ago thanks to Rosa Camacho-Samsung, the restaurant's long-time employee and designated gumbo cook.
And customers never had to worry about listening to tunes while enjoying the famous, fresh Amberjack sandwiches. Trey Horton remembers in the '80s when The Back Porch employees kept a keen ear on the music waiting to hear that final note before someone would dash up the old beach shack's stairs to flip the vinyl record over.
Horton started working at the classic Destin restaurant off old Highway 98 in 1985 as an oyster shucker. With a degree in political science, a job at a restaurant wasn't an obvious choice for Horton.
"Everything just kind of fell in to place," Horton said.
In 2001, Horton was promoted to full-time general manager, and has been in that position since.
The Back Porch opened in 1974 as a single A-frame building. Although the building has seen some additions over the 40-plus years, the screech of the same wooden floors that have withstood hurricanes in times past is the very echo of fond memories that Horton said keeps him wanting more.
"As much as Destin has grown up over the last 40 years, this place has basically stayed the same," he said. "We've added to it. We've added more seating, but it's still the open windows. It's still the fresh fried seafood, fresh grilled seafood, everything done by us here."
A restaurant that now feeds over 3,000 on any given day, Horton recalls celebrating when they reached 300 at the old shack. With that many customers today, Horton is thankful for a dish washing machine because before, every dish was washed by hard working hands.
But fortunately, that hard work was minimized since the restaurant served their food in baskets and used disposable utensils.
Along with the dish washing machine, Horton is also thankful for the tin roof that remains atop the restaurant.
"Put your device away and spend time with the person you're eating with," he said. "Look at the surroundings. For the hour and 20 minutes you're here eating, disconnect."
As for his favorite memories, Horton couldn't help but name more than one, like the time New Kids on the Block — an early '90s boy band — paid a visit.
Horton met his wife while working at the restaurant. His children also worked at the restaurant.
"It's almost like a fraternity or sorority where you have a legacy that comes in," Horton said.
Horton remembers customers from the '80s that are now bringing their children and grandchildren to the restaurant.
"People tell me this all the time ... Once they get in, sit down, and look at that Gulf, it's the same Gulf that was out there 40 years ago," Horton said. "It is almost like you've gone back in time."
Throughout the years, one thing kept Horton around.
"There's an aura about the place," he said. " ... It is more than just work. It is more than just a building. It's all of the memories that are here."