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.
Sally and Dan Bailey
Owners of Amavida Coffee Roasters, Dan and Sally Bailey opened the first Amavida Coffee Roaster in 2004 in Freeport. In the years since, Amavida has opened four cafés spanning from Seaside to Panama City, and has a roasting facility in the South Walton Commerce Park which houses, roasts and distributes its magic coffee beans. Dan is CEO and manager, while Sally serves as board vice president and secretary, and wears other hats in the majority women-owned business. The company was named Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine in 2018.
For the Baileys, the coffee business is about creating relationships, fostering love of life, and supporting happy and healthy relationships. The company’s mission is to improve the lives of small coffee farmers in impoverished communities. Each year, the Baileys visit the farms where they buy Amavida’s Organic and Fair Trade coffee beans to ensure the communities are properly cared for and that the profits from coffee sales are being distributed fairly.
While the Baileys strive to make a global impact for good, they support local young people who want to make a career with the company, knowing that the future of the industry relies on the younger staffers. The need to do good is also instilled in the company’s 40+ employees.
Amavida Coffee is owned by the Bailey family and run by a team of people who are growing with the company, many of whom are raised here on the Panhandle. Over the years the team at Amavida Coffee has changed slightly, though with the support of the community many of the people on the team have had opportunities to develop themselves professionally and influence the company and coffee industry for the positive.
“Working together over the past 16 years and making a passion a reality by impacting our coffee producers’ lives and communities has been so gratifying,” Sally Bailey says. “We have experienced ups and downs along the way including a major recession in the economy, impacts from an oil spill, day jobs, night jobs, weekend jobs, raising incredible children and always drinking really awesome coffee. It has been quite a journey that still continues to challenge us to learn and grow. We have met a lot of amazing people along the way, starting in that small beach shack on the south side and making the move to 25 Central Square just a year ago, definitely a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything. Seaside has been such an inspiring community to help us make this dream come true.”
Visit Amavida Coffee & Tee online
Mike and Chance Gullett
Frost Bites, specializing in Hawaiian shave ice, homemade frozen custard, fresh lemonade and soda floats, has provided sweet treats for Seaside locals and visitors since 1994, when the first Airstream trailer opened on what would eventually be known as Airstream Row. In 2004, Mike Gullett purchased the place.
“When I first got here, it was the only Airstream, just me and the post office,” Gullett says. “A year later another Airstream came, which sold sushi. But that didn’t last long so it was just me again. Suddenly more and more Airstreams started coming and I wasn’t sure how it would affect my business. But it worked out great. What (Seaside founders Robert and Daryl Davis) thought of when they conceived the idea of a row of Airstreams was spot on.”
When he bought Frost Bites, Gullett, a father of four, had a vision of helping families make new memories at the beach, as well as reliving old ones. That tradition continues today with photo ops, refreshing cold desserts and the friendliest of employees. Joined by his wife, Chance, Frost Bites has become a family affair with children, siblings and even an occasional grandparent pitching in.
Other interests the Gulletts share are travel and local charities. “Michael and I are passionate about travel, both near and far,” Chance says. “Our favorites being Hawaii, Italy and France.”
The couple also is involved in worthy causes locally. “Lighthouse Foundation (for children with cancer) is near and dear to Michael’s heart, as his adult son Nic is a cancer survivor since the age of 9 years old,” Chance adds. “Alaqua Animal Rescue, and Bullies 2 The Rescue continually win our hearts (and pocketbooks). And we’ve adopted and fallen in love with several senior dogs over the last five years, including a blind and deaf rat terrier, a 16- year-old pug whose family threw him away and a three-legged beagle!”
Visit Frost Bites online
Tracy and Ellen Townsend
Now that he is exclusive to Seaside, Tracy and his wife Ellen are able to focus on making the tennis program the best in the area. “Seaside is a great place to run a business together,” Tracy says. “Ellen and I met on the Seaside Tennis courts, so we feel very lucky to have landed here. Where else in the world can you bike to work, do a job you love with your spouse, and get to enjoy all the beauty, fun, and quality of life that Seaside offers?”
Ellen, also a vital part of the program, manages the business side of Seaside Tennis — marketing, accounting, buying for the Pro Shop and anything else that’s behind the scenes. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Ellen was a national account executive for Turner Broadcasting, calling on accounts like Nike and Disney. “Tracy and I really enjoy working together and complement each other’s strengths well. We think we make a pretty good team,” she says. “What is unique about Tracy is that he is comfortable with large groups, and he’s very entertaining. He remembers people’s names and has created a tennis community here that spans years and miles. Our clients are like family.”
Tracy adds, “There is very little overlap in our skill sets, so we complement each other well. I can teach you a slice backhand, run a round robin, and manage the courts, but don’t ask me about apparel size runs, the point-of-sale system, or anything behind-the-scenes. That’s her department!”
Inspired by some of the founding families in town, the Townsends want to contribute wholly to Seaside. “It is our greatest goal to be in the company the Modicas (owners of Modica Market) or the Dawsons, who own five eateries in Seaside, or Dave Rauschkolb, owner of Bud & Alley’s restaurants — to be part of the fabric of Seaside, a vital part of the community,” Ellen says. Being the Seaside tennis pro is what Tracy wants his legacy to be.”
“It is an honor and privilege to serve Seaside, and we are grateful to Robert and Daryl Davis and the entire team at Seaside for this opportunity and their support.” Tracy adds. “I’m proud they like what we do.”
Since Tracy has come on board fulltime in Seaside, the courts are packed. “The only downside is that we are our business and are responsible for Seaside Tennis 24/7, even when we’re not at the courts,” he says. “Sometimes we have to make a conscious decision to not talk about work at dinner. During peak times, it’s not uncommon for us to be at the courts seven days a week. When it’s someone’s one week in Seaside for the year, they want to see us here, so scheduling time off together is difficult. There just aren’t any slow seasons here anymore.”
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Partners in Life and Buiness Stories continued