Breaking the fast about Hibiscus
Secluded in a woodland area along DeFuniak Street in Santa Rosa Beach lies one of Walton County's most distinct bed-and-breakfasts.
Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthousemixes a relaxed atmosphere with coffee from Amavida Coffee and Tea, and the family-owned B&B offers 13 uniquely decorated rooms spread out across three different buildings and a cottage. Next year, the business plans to extended the hours of its breakfast diner, hoping to boost business through the off-season.
"Most people don't even know that we're here," said Stephanie Bantassell, who is one of four employees who run the venue. "I think that people are surprised that we're here and then how laid back it is in comparison to Destin and Panama City."
Bantassell, a Blue Mountain Beach resident, has worked for the coffee and guest house for seven years. She said that one of the main things that sets Hibiscus apart from its competitors is the lack of "corporate mess (they have) to deal with."
There's a two-night minimum for customers who stay on a Friday and Saturday, and Warren Tape, the manager, said the rooms run around $145-$245 a night. They also have three pet-friendly rooms that come with an additional $25 fee per pet/per night.
Along with being able to house around 40 guests, Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse is also a venue for the 30A Songwriters Festival.
Tape, who has been general manager for around eight years, said his parents bought the property in 1992 — originally someone's home — and transformed it into a bed and breakfast that opened in 1995.
"We've got really two businesses," he said. "We have our guesthouse and we have a cafe. The guesthouse of course is our core business, but we'd like to see the cafe be a viable business (too)."
Since opening, they've gone through some changes with their diner, but most of the venue's decorations were added by Tape's mother during the business' early years. The diner — which opens into a room, extends down a narrow hallway and reopens into a more spacious seating area — is filled with trinkets that give it an antique-but-restored vibe.
"My mom and my dad went out (and bought most of the decorations) way back before we opened and back in the heyday of eBay, and you know, the one thing I tell people is it's a lot easier to find this stuff 25 years ago," Tape said.
Though breakfast is included with each stay, some guest still visit the diner — open from 8-10 a.m. — just wanting to get a bite to eat. A couple of their main dishes include a spinach and feta Fritatta and their Waffle Wonderful meal, which Bantassell said is their staple.
"Best breakfast on 30A," said Renee White, a Freeport resident visiting for breakfast. "Oh my gosh, it's good. If you've not tried it, you should."