First new grocery to open in Mexico Beach since Hurricane Michael
MEXICO BEACH — More than a year after Hurricane Michael steamrolled through the Gulf Coast, a town will finally get its first new grocery store.
For Marc Rice, providing the much-needed amenity to Mexico Beach feels like his destiny.
“This thing just feels like it was why I was put on this earth,” he said. “I’ve never felt like that about anything before.”
Dubbed The Mexico Beach Market, the store is expected to open in about four weeks. It will sit on 15th Street next door to Mexico Beach Wine & Spirits, which Rice also owns, and be stocked with "the basics.“
“This is something that the whole community can benefit from,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a huge plus for the local community and those few tourists and workers that are here.”
Rice added that he originally thought to expand his liquor store when the space first became available — it previously housed a real estate company. That idea quickly changed.
“I was loading the Coke machine out front (of the liquor store one day) when it came to me that this needs to be a grocery store,” he said.
According to Al Cathey, mayor of Mexico Beach, the unit where the store will go became available within the last month. He added that Rice’s development order was approved during a council meeting on Feb. 11.
Since the storm, residents have had to drive to either Panama City or Port St. Joe to get groceries, he said.
While it won’t offer a massive inventory, the store fills a void caused by Hurricane Michael, puts Mexico Beach one step closer to getting back on its feet and gives residents an opportunity to shop local.
“I don’t know about the economic impact (that the grocery store will have), but it’ll be just a moral boost to our town,” Cathey said. “It will be small, and it will be sort of a miniature version, but it’s certainly better than any option that we have right now.”