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A little bit of shameless self promotion

Shameless plug.

I wrote two freelance stories for a local magazine, 850, this summer and you should totally check them out! Both deal with food.

The first is about the food truck trend and how it’s expanding in North Florida.

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It’s a Thursday night in Tallahassee and Rebecca Kelly is making a lot of grilled cheese.

The 38-year-old is making the classic sandwich with four kinds of cheese, fresh basil, tomato and sourdough bread — plus bacon if you want some meat on it. She calls it “cheesy goodness in your hand.”

Kelly is among a growing number of entrepreneurs who are starting new eateries across the state. Except there is one key difference that sets Kelly’s roadside café apart from other dining hot spots in the region. Her restaurant is on wheels.

It’s a food truck she bought in 2011. She calls it “Stella” and it took “every penny I had” to purchase.

Kelly’s business, Street Chefs, is not unique to Northwest Florida.

According to the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, food trucks were the fastest growing business in the state in 2011, outpacing their brick and mortar brethren.

Read more here

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The second one is about the Blue Parrot, an old restaurant on St. George Island, a popular summer vacation spot in the Gulf.

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In 1995, all Steve Rash wanted to do was store some jet ski equipment in the tiny Blue Parrot restaurant on St. George Island for a rental business he wanted to start up. A year later, he wound up owning the joint.

“I thought I’d love to get into business on the beach,” Rash said.

He knew the original owners Rick and Kay Rutger because his wholesale seafood company, Water Street Seafood, in nearby Apalachicola sold them fresh fish for their seaside eatery. He thought their spot on the beach might be the perfect place to set up a jet ski rental.

They agreed, but a few months later, Rutger called and said he wanted to sell the place. Rash said he wanted to buy it. It sat 40 people. It had no walk-in refrigerators or freezers. The cooking was done on plug-in burners. And Rash, who lived a couple of blocks from the Blue Parrot in those days, knew next to nothing about the restaurant business.

“I thought I’d work at the seafood wholesaler during the day and the restaurant at night,” he said. “It got ugly quick. I didn’t know the restaurant business that well.”

The Blue Parrot began as a tiny beer and hot dog stand in the 1980’s. At that time it was called S.O. Beach. When Rash took over, it was slightly bigger and had something that resembled a kitchen. It had already become the center for a St. George Island tradition — a yearly mullet toss.

Read more here.

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