All About Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar on 30A
Located next to Gulf Place 30A, Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar opened its doors and welcomed their first guests in November 2017. Since then, it’s gone on to win multiple “Perfect In South Walton” awards for “Best Casual Dining”. Other awards Shunk Gulley has received include but are not limited to, “Best in Destin” (for Best Oysters) and the 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award recognized in the top 10% of restaurants worldwide! Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar is widely regarded as a top 30A Restaurant by locals and visitors alike. We had the great privilege of speaking with their Marketing and Special Events Manager Kendra Marasa and asked her the following questions…
Question: How/why did you arrive at the Shunk Gulley name?
Kendra’s Answer: After diving into the history of our area, talking to some of our favorite long-time locals, and looking at some historical maps of the area, the name Shunk Gulley jumped out at us and stuck like glue. Shunk Gulley is named after a historical fishing reef off our coast found about a mile directly to the south in the Gulf of Mexico. This hard-to-find “shunk gulley”, a gulley named after the man that initially discovered it, served as a point of navigation for boaters along our coast before GPS was ever thought of. The intersection of Highway 393 and 30A served as that point of navigation for boaters searching for the reef. Fishermen would launch straight out from the current Ed Walline Beach Access to head to the reef. Rumor has it that this secretive or hard-to-find reef was one of the top fishing locations in this part of the Gulf.
Question: What was the vision for Shunk Gulley before it opened?
Kendra’s Answer: Ownership originally wanted to open a local watering hole or neighborhood bar that would act as a community central gathering spot where neighbors could meet neighbors. With this vision, we ended up creating a really cool restaurant our guests have fallen in love with. The vision behind Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar always had the goal of aesthetically softening the concrete condo look and feel of the 393/30A intersection. We love the outdoor Florida living aspect of our region, so that was a focus of ours with the open-air concept & covered porches. Shunk Gulley’s casual, laid-back atmosphere was designed for good times, great food, and plenty of friends with a focus on providing live music 365 days a year. No other restaurant along 30A or in this region offers this to their guests. Whether it’s the wonderful views, fresh seafood, or live coastal musicians, we have always delivered something for everyone. We are in the business of hospitality and nothing makes us happier than giving every guest that walks through our doors a fun, welcoming, and exceptional experience. We know people have choices, which is why we’re especially thrilled when they choose to come back to Shunk Gulley again and again!
Question: How would you describe Shunk Gulley’s presence/reputation in the community in five words or fewer?
Kendra’s Answer: Community, Hospitality, Fresh, Local, Family
Question: I’d love to hear the chef’s take on the menu and what inspires him/her.
Kendra’s Answer: Our menu is simple and provides something for everyone. Our Chef is continually inspired to be creative with our fresh local ingredients from the Gulf and our surrounding counties. The Shunk Gulley ‘flavor’ is really creating a custom experience for each guest and having each one leave our restaurant feeling like family!
Question: What is the goal behind the creation/variety of the menu?
Kendra’s Answer: Our Chef’s goal has always been to educate guests on the seafood the Gulf Of Mexico provides us. From our variety of fresh fish options to our oysters and shrimp, we take pride in offering the freshest seafood to our guests.
Question: What have been long-standing favorites?
Kendra’s Answer: One of our long-standing favorites has been the Duck fat Gulley fries. Another fan-favorite entrée of ours has always been the Summer Grouper entrée that is a highlight of our Summer menu. Both are an absolute must-try!
Question: What are some new favorites?
Kendra’s Answer: A couple of our new menu items that have been a hit are our Beet Salad and Quinoa salad. They both pair perfectly with a scoop of tuna dip and day at the beach!
Question: How do you think your customers would describe Shunk Gulley?
Kendra’s Answer: Great food, great people, great atmosphere; We want Shunk Gulley to be thought of as the perfect place where locals and visitors alike can gather to enjoy fresh seafood, cold drinks, live music each day of the week with an incredible view while they make great memories and some new friends along the way. We take pride in providing the freshest local seafood to our guests and a culinary experience that is hard to find elsewhere along 30A. We are in the business of hospitality and want each guest to leave our doors feeling like family. Our open-air dining experience paired with our incredible Gulf views make the Shunk Gulley experience second to none!
Question: Have you ever tried a menu item that flopped? What was it?
Kendra’s Answer: Filet mignon was a menu item of ours that was not a top-seller; seafood is king and most of our guests go for our Grouper sandwich or crab claws instead.
Question: Have you ever tried a menu item that was so popular you couldn’t make it quickly enough? What was it?
Question: What’s on the horizon for Shunk Gulley?
Kendra’s Answer: Shunk Gulley has some exciting things on the horizon with an expansion planned for Fall/Winter 2021. There’s a development order in place that will more than double the size of the restaurant.
Question: New addition, expansion, new menu, new drinks?
Kendra’s Answer: Our Chef is always keeping our menu fresh and offers daily specials for lunch and for dinner that are not regular items found on our menu. With the huge following they have garnered, we do not see our signature cocktails going anywhere. The famous Shunk Gulley Bushwacker is a must-have for any day at the beach! We also offer a selection of our signature cocktails to-go for our guests to take with them and enjoy during their day at the beach. In addition, Shunk Gulley offers one of the best Happy Hours on 30A!
Question: Where do you see the restaurant in 5 years?
Kendra’s Answer: In 5 years we plan to continue to be community leaders serving our local community; supporting the sheriff’s department, fire department, SWARA, the CBA (Choctawhatchee Basic Alliance), as well as, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County’s Underwater Museum of Art and other key initiatives in our local community. We plan to continue to be known for providing the freshest local seafood available and offering exciting live entertainment every day of the week.
Question: Do you have a basic recipe you could share with us?
Kendra’s Answer: Our full recipe is top-secret but our signature Shunk Juice is a fan favorite cocktail that includes Meyers Rum, Blue Chair Bay Banana, Pineapple, OJ, and a splash of grenadine with the only kind of hurricane you want to see on our beaches, a Cruzan hurricane-proof 137 floater to keep things exciting.
Question: What are the three best things about Shunk Gulley, in your opinion?
Kendra’s Answer: The people, the food, and our one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The team at Shunk Gulley’s passion lies in making our guests’ experience great. Our culinary team strives to create outstanding and unique entrees, while our servers provide warm smiles and a fun environment. We take great pride in giving back to our community and the environment that supplies us with our fresh ingredients through our signature events and longstanding partnerships with local organizations. From our oysters and tuna dip to our Grouper sandwiches and ice-cold draft beer, we are known for providing a great culinary experience at Shunk Gulley. Shunk Gulley is a premier location on 30A for live music. There is live music daily and we offer impressive panoramic views of the sugar-white sand beaches of 30A from any seat. We bring in artists from around the Gulf Coast, and even Nashville, to perform and help set the tone for our laid-back atmosphere. Whether you just want to relax to indie guitar players or upbeat party songs, our talented musicians know the vibe of the area. Shunk Gulley has been recognized two years in a row as Perfect in South Walton’s Best Casual Dining!
Question: What is the long-term vision for Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar?
Kendra’s Answer: Once used as a landmark for the legendary fishermen of South Walton, Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar hopes to be a mainstay for locals to gather, visitors to enjoy, all while we continue the legacy of conservation. Shunk Gulley has teamed up with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) to bring back active fisheries in the Gulf. We are committed to helping build a more diverse ecosystem that is not only good for the Gulf but good for your plate. Preserving the history of the area, new reef structures have been deployed in the Gulf and will carry the Shunk Gulley name. With an ongoing partnership with SWARA, more reef deployments are on the horizon.
A huge Thank You to Kendra for taking time to provide so much great information about one of South Walton’s best restaurants. If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to visit their website here… ShunkGulley.com