Seaside entrepreneurial couples excel at making business personal By Wendy O. Dixon
Many of Seaside’s galleries, restaurants, markets and shops are run by married couples who share their talents, strengths, burdens, long hours and business know-how. Some came together, some met in Seaside and later got married. Using a delicate balance of personal and business, these couples demonstrate that working in harmony is a vital part of what makes Seaside a special town.
Thanks to the vision of Seaside co-founders Robert and Daryl Rose Davis, the town has been recognized as “the most astonishing design achievement of its era, and one might hope, the most influential,” by Time Magazine.
Working with the Davises were town planners and husband-and-wife team Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, architects who conceived the movement in land planning known as New Urbanism, with Seaside as the birthplace of that movement.
As additional couples moved to Seaside, the town began to thrive, and the Davises’ vision flourished. Charlie and Sarah Modica opened Modica Market, Bill and Heavenly Dawson opened Dawson’s Yogurt and Pickle’s Burgers & Shakes, and later three more eateries.
Along with their better half, these couples add to the character of Seaside.
Jay and Liz Eichelberger
Since he was five years old, Jay Eichelberger has spent his summers coming to Seaside. His family bought a cottage on Tupelo Street called Lemoncello, which served as home base for the carefree and fun summer days every kid dreams of.
Years later, Jay introduced the love of his life, Liz, to Seaside. For three years, the couple hit the road from Atlanta to Seaside, making a routine of strolling to Modica Market for their daily iced coffee.
On Halloween in 2015, Jay and Liz were again at Modica Market, where Jay had arranged with Modica owner Charlie Modica Jr. to make a special sign inspired by his favorite neighborhood grocery store. In the same signage as Modica’s lettering were the words, “Liz, will you marry me?” As Jay, on bended knee, asked Liz to be his bride, the costumed crowd of ghouls, goblins and super heroes cheered their well wishes.
With the success of their Airstream eatery, Crêpes Du Soleil, which opened in Seaside in 2018, Liz and Jay, with Chef Rob Masone, opened Cocina Cubana in 2019.
“We’re super excited to be a part of Seaside,” Jay adds. “I remember bringing my friends here for spring break. We ate at Barefoot B-B-Q and my friends were so amazed at Seaside and the delicious barbecue. I hope we can help other people feel that way, too.”
Jeremy and Jennifer Barnes
As director of security for the Seaside Community Development Corp., Jeremy Barnes is a regular face in town, as he ensures the safety of the Seaside staff and townsfolk from day to day. A perk of the job, he says, is being outdoors and enjoying the atmosphere in town. “I love working in Seaside,” he adds, “especially the views. They are my favorite.”
Jeremy and his new bride, Jennifer Barnes, met through mutual friends in 2015 and were married in May of 2019. Jennifer, who has worked in Seaside for eight years, first for Bill and Heavenly Dawson, and now as manager at Seaside Kids, recommended Jeremy for the security position. “He got hired and hit it off from there,” Jennifer says.
Because their work schedules differ, they commute separately most days and share lunch when they can. “It’s nice to see her on a break,” Jeremy says. “And it’s nice that she’s so close. That’s what we love about working in Seaside.”
Paul and Marsha Johnson
Paul’s Pick of the Crop owners Paul and Marsha Johnson bring bushels of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to the Seaside Farmers Market each Saturday, as regular customers delight in the latest pickings. In a partnership between several farmers, the Johnsons represent their own farm, as well as other farms in Georgia, Alabama and as far south as central Florida, and ensure the best of the best crops. Market goers can pick fresh produce including carrots, tomatoes, butternut squash, snap peas and many more produce foods.
Both Paul and Marsha grew up on their respective family farms. Marsha’s father’s farm is included among the pickup spots along the way to the Seaside Farmers market. And the Johnsons bring their son Cooper, age 7, along for a family day.
At Paul and Marsha’s tent, customers can put their hands on the produce and carefully make their pick. For a decade, they’ve enjoyed greeting their repeat customers who have come to know that the produce they buy comes from responsible farmers, and has been picked nearby only in the last few days.
In 2019, Johnson took over as the market’s manager. “Marsha and I have the best of a working condition,” he says. “Not many jobs have the privileges that we have. We not only enjoy going to Seaside Farmers Market, but where else can you bring the kids too.”
Look for more Seaside couples who work together to appear in future issues. We look forward to sharing their stories.
Editor’s Note: Laura Holloway contributed to this article
Partners in Life and Buiness Stories continued