The iconic restaurant along Florida’s 30A was beloved for its cocktails, crab cakes, and over-the-top décor.

By Marisa Spyker
Photo: JR P/Flickr

Plans to visit one of Florida’s most picturesque stretches of shoreline are, unfortunately, about to get a little dimmer.

Red Bar—one of 30A’s most famous rose-tinted watering holes on the Florida panhandle—was reportedly destroyed in a fire in the early hours of February 13. According to a Facebook post from the South Walton Fire Department, crews battled strong winds and were able to contain the fire with no injuries. But despite their efforts, the historic site that’s housed the Red Bar for more than 20 years “is now a total loss.”

Upon hearing the news, sympathy and support immediately poured out for the quirky hangout, known for its chalkboard menus and wacky décor that includes murals, road signs, foreign film posters, disco balls, and red Christmas lights that gave the establishment its signature rosy glow. As one fan noted on the South Walton Fire Department’s post, “Once you visited it was a must to return. So many great memories are made there.”

In its 24 years of business, the Red Bar went from a small locals joint to an icon along 30A, attracting a roster of clientele that included beach bums, vacationing families, and even celebrities (Sheryl Crow was reportedly a regular). With its live music and perfect post-beach fare (fans raved about the crab cakes and Bloody Marys), the restaurant became a must stop after long days spent on the sand. According to one fan’s post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “The Red Bar was way more than its four walls. It was home. A place where we all met some of the best folks of our lives.”

While the owners have not yet commented on the devastating loss, South Walton Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez said in a live Walton County Sheriff Facebook video that he’s spoken with them and “they are heartbroken … But I’ve been in this community for 21 years, and I know the community will rally. I have confidence they will come back bigger and better than before.”

Want to show your support? If you're local, stop by Chiringo in Grayton Beach from 11 AM to 5 PM on February 14 to support the Red Bar Employee Relief Fund. (All proceeds from Oyster City Beer and the Pulled Pork Plate go toward the fund.) Or consider donating to the Red Bar GoFundMe, which also helps support the employees affected. 

Plan the Perfect Weekend on Florida's 30A: