A mainstay along Walton Country Road 30A, the Seagrove Village MarketCafe has been in the same place for more than six decades. With so many businesses coming and going, every year, it's interesting to look at one capable of standing the test of time.
In the late 1940s, the cafe opened as a convenience store to serve the Seagrove Village. After many years, it was transformed into the present-day dive restaurant loved by locals, visitors, tourists and even the occasional celebrity.
It has been owned by George and Ann Hartley since 1999 and they believe it's one of the best dive restaurants found on the planet. Many owners may take offense to their cafe when it's called a dive, but this couple embraces the label. They provide one of the best dives in the area and they are very proud of it.
The cafe was built by C.H. McGees in 1949 and the McGees owned it for many years. Originally, C.H. McGee not only rand the business, but also lived there. The current restaurant seating found in the middle part of the building used to be a living room and the office used to be a bedroom.
After the business was sold to Ernie Walker in the 1980s and the residential portion was transformed into a restaurant, the MarketCafe took off. He put many of his own recipes into it and his head cook, Sonny Sherer is still cooking at the restaurant today.
Keeping many of the same policies in place, such as cook to order food and buying only fresh ingredients, the Hartlys have managed to find 14 years of success in the same location. The grocery portion of the restaurant was one of the only changes made by the Hartlys.
When Publix opened just down the road, the Hartlys decided to phase out the grocery portion of the business and turn it into a gift show with Seagrove Beach items.
Since the success of the restaurant, the couple has opened two other restaurants in the area, La Concina Mexican Grill and Bar and George's at Alys Beach.