30-A’s Landmark Comes Back to Life
By Abigail Ryan | Photography by Brenna Kneiss
If you’ve ever visited the beaches of 30-A in Northwest Florida, you know that Grayton Beach’s most famous restaurant, The Red Bar, lives up to all its hype. The eclectic atmosphere, the Red Bar Jazz Band setting the tone for the evening, the chalkboard menus with five delicious items to choose from, and even the up-to-three-hour wait times as guests mill about the front room and around the shops on Hotz Avenue all combine to make this landmark bar and restaurant one of the best experiences in the area.
Many out-of-town patrons and locals were heartbroken to hear the news that The Red Bar had burned down in the early morning of Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The Red Bar was a beloved spot for dining and entertainment in Grayton Beach and around 30-A since 1995. After the disaster, many fans took to social media to share their memories of The Red Bar, whether it was where they had a breakup, a makeup, a first date, a special anniversary, or even a chance meeting with an old friend. That’s what The Red Bar is all about—the community, the friendship, and the memories. It’s a place many people would call a sort of home away from home.
After eighteen months without new memories to build upon, The Red Bar’s owners and staff reopened its doors to the public on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. With nearly the same floor plan and blueprints as the previous building—thanks to the help of architecture firm A BOHEME Design, O’Connell & Associates as the head engineers for the rebuild, and Luke & Blue’s leading the way on the construction—the new Red Bar captures the original, unique spirit we all knew and loved.
Upon entering the new Red Bar’s colorful front door, painted by local artist Bryan Hand, one might notice some familiar sights. Every single intricate piece of decor has been carefully thought out by owner Oli Petit: the first-ever poster hung in The Red Bar from its original opening is now on display in the front room above the band area; the first door is hanging on the wall in the bar; the dedication to the late, great Jabo Starks of the Red Bar Jazz Band is in the front room. Every inch of the walls (and ceiling) shares a story.
“All of this is all the different, wonderful little details of Oli and what he enjoys,” says Rene Endres, who worked at The Red Bar before the fire and returned with the Petit family to the new one. “The vibe is casual, the decor is funky, the music is free flowing, and the food is simply divine, but the real heartbeat of The Red Bar can be summed up in two words: Oli Petit. The restaurant itself and Oli’s character—being from Belgium, being so cosmopolitan, being so gregarious, loving to cook, loving to serve people—this was the foundation for The Red Bar. Oli Petit is The Red Bar. This is the manifestation of all that is in his soul, from the red walls to the decorations, the flavor of the food, the hospitality he shows the people he is able to bring together in one room. Everyone is on the same level here, from the guy who just got off the fishing dock to the lawyer who comes after work or the realtor in the corner closing a business deal. Oli put that together; that’s his genius and nobody else can do that.”
We are so excited to welcome The Red Bar back to our community and look forward to a lifetime of memories to come!
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The family at The Red Bar invites you to dine with them from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday, with live music from the Red Bar Jazz Band Tuesday through Saturday evenings and from 30-A local band Dread Clampitt on Sunday and Monday evenings. To learn more, visit TheRedBar.com and follow them on Instagram @theredbar95.