Latest Area News

FWB gallery presents art series to benefit Covenant Hospice

FORT WALTON BEACH — Covenant Hospice announces “Full Chroma: Art to Benefit Covenant Hospice,” a project presented by Charles Johnson Gallery.

Gallery owner Charles Johnson is creating a series of paintings to be displayed and sold in area restaurants, including Graffiti in Baytowne Wharf, KC’s Sandbar & Grille, Tapworks, Frankie’s A Salon, Bon Appetit French Bakery and Fokkers Pub.

All proceeds from the “Full Chroma” line will benefit Covenant Hospice’s unfunded and underfunded programs in Okaloosa and Walton counties. These programs include Charity Care, Grief Support, Children’s Services and Spiritual Support.

Home Depot and Sherwin Williams have donated supplies to the project to ensure all proceeds are received by the not-for-profit organization.

Select paintings from the “Full Chroma” series will be on display at a solo show by Johnson at the gallery 5-9 p.m. April 4. The Charles Johnson Gallery is at 196 Miracle Strip Parkway, Unit F.

“We are honored that Charles chose to support Covenant Hospice with his time and artistic talent,” says Rachel Mayew, development and communications manager at Covenant Hospice. “‘Full Chroma’ is entirely Charles’ concept and is a great reminder that we all have something to offer our community.”

For more information about Covenant Hospice or to make a hospice inquiry, contact the local branch offices in Fort Walton Beach (729-1800) and Crestview (682-3628) or visit

The Hub preview, Easter celebration Sunday

SOUTH WALTON – Celebrate Easter and preview South Walton’s newest family destination, The Hub (, located along Scenic Highway 30A in front of the resort communities of Prominence and WaterSound Beach.

Scheduled festivities include live music from The Jazz Ensemble featuring David Ott, a visit from the Easter Bunny and the chance to sample food items from The Hub’s line-up of new restaurants.

The celebration is Sunday 1-3 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

An internationally recognized composer and conductor, Ott is a longtime fixture in the Northwest Florida classical music scene. He served as conductor for both the Northwest Florida Symphony and the Philharmonic of Northwest Florida and as guest conductor for the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. The Jazz Ensemble will treat guests with renditions of classic jazz favorites.

Scheduled to open in May, The Hub will have restaurants, shopping, a 2,000-square-foot stage with 25-foot jumbotron, events lawn and covered pavilion. Restaurants will include Mile Marker Fifteen, Crave Roadside Burgers, Red’s Chicken Shack and Mr. Freeze all led by Executive Chef Nickolaus Walton.

The Hub will offer regularly scheduled complimentary events including music, movies and sporting event broadcasts.

“We’re thrilled to invite the public into The Hub for this special preview to experience what we’ll be bringing to the 30A community with this new venture,” said Jay Etheredge, vice president of operations at Comer Woodford Hospitality Group.

Buzzworthy events for April 3-9

Want a few suggestions for what to do, where to go and who to see? You’ll find them here each week. Look for details and more ideas throughout Showcase.

Lil Wayne: Bigg Play presents Lil Wayne live at Nightown Destin on April 3 for “Sorry fo the Wait 2” release party. Nightown is at 140 Palmetto St. Call 837-7625.

Jazz appreciation: Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative will sponsor a jazz concert at the Destin Library at 3 p.m. April 3 in celebration of Jazz Appreciation month and the 75th anniversary year of the Destin Library. The performance features Vernon Chatlein, Gino Rosaria and Brian Taylor.” Call 837-8572.

Destin egg hunt: The City of Destin’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt will be held April 4 at the Morgan Sports Center beginning at 9:15 a.m. The hunt is for youth ages 12 and under. Special zones are available for crawlers and toddlers. Call 650-1241.

Cultural Arts Fest: Bluewater Bay Marina Complex will hold the third annual Bluewater Bay Cultural Arts Festival 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 4. The fest features local and regional artists, entertainment, children’s activities and more. A kickoff party is 6-9 tonight at LJ Schooners Dockside Restaurant. The fest is free and open to the public. Visit

The Hub celebration: Celebrate Easter and preview South Walton’s newest family destination, The Hub, located along Scenic Highway 30A in front of the resort communities of Prominence and WaterSound Beach. Festivities include live music from The Jazz Ensemble featuring David Ott, a visit from the Easter Bunny and the chance to sample food from The Hub’s line-up of restaurants. The celebration is Sunday 1-3 p.m. Admission is free.

Women’s Literature: The Friends Guild of the Destin Library, in celebration of National Poetry Month, will host a Women’s Literature Circle: The Joy of Poetry with Marilyn Schroer at 1:30 p.m. April 6. The program is free. It will be held in the Calhoun Room at the Destin Library. 150 Sibert Ave.

Student Art Show: The Arts and Design Society will host the annual Van Porter Student Art Show through April 10. The exhibit showcases outstanding 8th grade and 12th grade art work. A reception is scheduled 5-7 p.m. April 9. Visit the Art Center Gallery at 17 First St. S.E. in Fort Walton Beach. Ad-mission to the reception and gallery is free. Call 244-1271.

Student, faculty show: The annual Arnie Hart Juried Student Exhibition and NWFSC Faculty Exhibition will be on display from April 3 to May 1 at the Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center Galleries at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. Both exhibitions are free and open to the public. An award ceremony and free reception will be held 5-7 p.m. April 3. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Call 729-6044.

Finest on the Emerald Coast: Enjoy the Finest on the Emerald Coast winners' event, with more than 90 local businesses showcasing why they were voted the "Finest" 6-9:30 p.m. April 9 at HarborWalk Village in Destin. There will be food, entertainment from Ron Adams (7-8:30 p.m.), and recogni-tion of the "Finest" Winners with a fireworks show over Destin harbor at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance online at at and $35 at the door.

Pita Pit fresh, healthy option in Niceville

It’s not often that Niceville gets a new type of restaurant before other towns in the area. However, it did with the opening of Pita Pit.

The food
You choose the base of your pita and then add whatever toppings/ingredients you would like.

There is a menu offering various meat and veggie combination pitas. However, they are just suggested toppings and sauces to go with the base you pick.

The Pita Pit will make your pita with any changes or additions in toppings you would like.

The pitas come in two sizes: regular and small.

The day of our visit, my guest chose the Chicken Souvlaki pita, which contains Mediterranean seasoned chicken, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, Feta cheese and tzatziki sauce on a whole wheat pita – regular pitas are also available.

The order process reminds me of a number of sandwich shops.

You place your order, move down the counter where you choose any additional ingredients you would like, and your pita is put together in front of you by the “pita artisan.”

Deli meat is used in some menu items with others having slices of chicken or roast beef seasoned and grilled.

Your completed pita may be grilled if you choose.

I ordered the Prime Rib pita, which includes sliced, grilled beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions. green peppers, cheddar cheese and horseradish Dijon sauce.

We opted for the combos, which include a beverage with chips, cookies, fruit or soup.

Unfortunately, they did not have fruit or soup that day.

They do offer a variety of bagged chips to choose from.

We received our wrapped pitas on a tray, grabbed our chips and drinks and chose a table.

There are no worries that you will leave Pita Pit hungry just because it’s healthy food.

Choose the regular size pita, and I guarantee you won’t. The portions are generous.

We pronounced both pitas as very good. All the ingredients were fresh.

I particularly enjoyed the horseradish Dijon sauce on my pita.

Grilled chicken pitas include: a chicken Caesar; chicken breast; Buffalo chicken and “The Local,” which is grilled chicken with pineapple.

Beef pitas include a Philly steak and gyro in addition to the prime rib.

There are also several deli meat options as well as a BLT and tuna pita.

Don’t forget the Pita Pit is vegetarian friendly, offering hummus and spicy black bean pitas as well as garden, falafel and cheese pitas.

If you’re in the mood for breakfast, they offer several breakfast pita options as well.

The Pita Pit offers what they call a quesapita, which is a grilled pita filled with just cheese or cheese and chicken and served with your choice of sauces, any one of 20 sauces in fact.

At the Pita Pit, you may order double meat or cheese, extra bacon, hummus or avocado on any pita.

They offer 18 toppings and five choices of cheese.

If you prefer, Pita Pit offers any pita as a salad for the same price.

The Pita Pit has Coca-Cola soft drinks, tea and smoothies.

Smoothies include Banana Very Berry, Mang Tango, Berry-Go-Round and Blu Bayou.

The atmosphere
Pita Pit is in a unit just down from the Niceville Publix. It is clean, bright and modern.

The service
We were greeted as we entered, and the pita artisan was helpful and friendly, offering us a menu to peruse rather than having to stand and stare at the menu board.

A final taste
If you’re looking for something healthy, tasty and fast, check out Pita Pit in Niceville.


Location: 1552 John Sims Parkway East, Niceville

Telephone: 389-8400

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Reservations: Not necessary

Handicap accessibility: Good

Price range
Pitas $4.09 - $6.89
Soup $2.29 - $3.39
Drinks $1.99 - $3.99
Kids Meal $3.79

Credit cards accepted


April showers area with festivals

April is one of those months stuffed with festivals on the Emerald Coast.

Conceivably, you could spend every week munching on festival foods, listening to live music, and entertained by other festival offerings.

Want to watch some bull-riding on our sugar white sand? Check.

How about winning your sweetheart a stuffed animal at a carnival game? Check.

Keep this calendar handy as you’re looking for things to do this month.

Week 1
April 2-8

3rd Annual Bluewater Bay Marina Cultural Arts Festival
When: April 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Bluewater Bay Marina Complex, 290 Yacht Club Drive in the Bluewater Bay community.
What to expect: A free event that will feature a variety of local artists and artwork. The marina will also host a kickoff party 6-9 p.m. April 2.

Fly into Spring
When: April 4 and 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, 1450 Miracle Strip Parkway.
What to expect: A free event that features professional stunt kite flying, demonstrations and lessons. There will be an egg drop April 5 at 2 p.m.

St. Mary's Spring Fling
When: April 8 and 9: 5-10 p.m., April 10: 5-11 p.m., April 11: noon-11 p.m., April 12: noon-6 p.m.
Where: Northwest Florida Fairgrounds, 1958 Lewis Turner Blvd. in Fort Walton Beach.
What to expect: A carnival with rides, games, vendors, craft booths and live music.

Week 2
April 9-15

Finest on the Emerald Coast
When: April 9, 6-9:30 p.m.
Where: HarborWalk Village in Destin.
What to expect: See why certain local businesses were voted the “Finest on the Emerald Coast” by visiting booths filled with food, prod-ucts and more.
Tickets: $30 in advance at or $35 at the door. VIP tickets are $50.

Marvel of Flight
When: April 10, 5-10 p.m., and April 11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport, 1931 U.S. Highway 90 W.
What to expect: A fly-in and aviation festival that will have a traveling exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen, Huey and Cobra helicopter rides, and more. For a full schedule, visit

Earth Day Festival
When: April 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, 4956 State Highway 20 E. in Freeport.
What to expect: Animal encounters, food trucks, crafts, live music, marine touch tanks and more.

Week 3
April 16-22

29th annual Sandestin Wine Festival
When: April 16-19.
Where: The Village of Baytowne Wharf, 9100 Baytowne Blvd.
What to expect: Events centered around food and wine. For a schedule and tickets, visit

Okaloosa Arts Fest
When: April 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Destin Commons in Destin.
What to expect: A free family friendly event that highlights Emerald Coast artists and artwork. There will be live entertainment and other activities.

Seabreeze Jazz Festival
When: April 22-26.
Where: Pier Park in Panama City Beach.
What to expect: Five days of smooth jazz music. For a schedule and tickets, visit

Week 4
April 23-29

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
When: April 23-26.
Where: Grand Boulevard at Sandestin.
What to expect: A number of events centered on food and wine. For the full schedule and ticket prices, visit

Musical Echoes Native American Flute Festival
When: April 24-April 26. The full schedule is at
Where: Fort Walton Beach Landing.
What to expect: A celebration of Native American culture, art, and music, highlighting the Native American flute.

Navarre Fun Fest
When: April 24, 4-10 p.m. and April 25, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Where: Navarre Beach.
What to expect: Food, live entertainment, local artisans, a children's area and fireworks on Saturday.

Bulls on the Beach
When: April 24 starting at 5 p.m. and April 25 starting at 3 p.m.
Where: The Boardwalk, 1450 Miracle Strip Parkway on Okaloosa Island.
What to expect: A bull-riding show on the beach behind The Boardwalk. There will be fireworks, live music, and more.
Tickets: Single-day general admission: $20; Single-day VIP tickets: $75; VIP ticket Friday and Saturday: $140; VIP package Thursday 5-course dinner with wine as well as VIP tickets for Friday and Saturday: $200. Visit

39th Saturday in the Park Heritage Festival
When: April 25, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida.
What to expect: The free family friendly event starts with the Heritage 5K Run/Walk, then re-enactments, craft demonstrations, live enter-tainment, craft and food vendors, old-fashioned games and more.

8th annual Choctawhatchee Estuary Family Festival
When: April 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Fred Gannon State Park, Niceville
What to expect: A free family friendly event that includes designing your own fish T-shirt, kayak tours of the bay and more.

Burger Throwdown grills up creativity; FWBHS troupe earns raves at state

Try a burger topped with a softshell crab? Check.

This wasn’t on my bucket list — for that matter, I don’t actually have a bucket list — but I’m glad I did it.

It was one of the nine burgers presented to me and my fellow judges during the 3rd annual Burger Throwdown at Bay Breeze Patio’s anniversary celebration last Saturday afternoon.

Those fellow judges were my partner on the Features Team here at the Daily News, writer Lauren Delgado; Matt Algarin, editor of the Destin Log and Walton Sun; Jim Bagby, Walton County TDC director and Chef Dominic Damiano, owner of Fat Clemenza’s.

The competing chefs were introduced to us only by first name. Their burgers, however, were described in great detail.

Each was cooked on one of the grills offered at Bay Breeze, and each featured at least one of the Wayne’s BBQ Grilling Rubs they also sell.

The winning burger this year was the Fleur de Lis Burger by Melissa Everatt with Tri-State Distributors. It tasted like New Orleans on a bun: ground pork/sirloin patty wrapped around a succulent chunk of sausage grilled to perfection and topped with provolone cheese, a muffuletta-like relish and Creole mustard.

For her efforts, Melissa took home a lovely trophy and bragging rights.

A couple of my other favorites were the Destin Spicy Burger, featuring pepperjack cheese and mushrooms; and the Flying Hawaiian Burger, with pineapple, tiger sauce and prosciutto.

Creativity was a key ingredient. One burger was made from lamb and dressed with balsamic white truffle sauce and broccoli rabe.

It was a fun, interesting experience. We even learned from Chef Dom how to tell if a fresh pineapple is ready to eat: The inner leaves pull out easily.

Thank you to Bay Breeze Patio for the opportunity.


By the way, don’t forget to vote in the championship round of our own Battle of the Burgers Bracket on

The two eateries hoping to grind out a victory in the final are Ed’s Restaurant and Top’s Hamburgers.


Drama Troupe 4967 of Fort Walton Beach High School spent a few days of spring break last week in Tampa where they represented the area at the Florida Thespian Festival.

Their indefatigable teacher, Christa Whittaker, posted this on Facebook Sunday and tagged me, so I don’t think she’ll mind if I share some of it with you.

Nothing like getting it straight from such an eloquent source:

“On the drive home from my 18th Florida Thespian festival with a 26-foot truck and 5 vans full of exhausted kids and dedicated parent volunteers.

“These kids got an excellent on their one act, which was an original play by Jessica Clark, straight superiors on ‘The Crucible,’ which these kids performed TWICE with only 15 minutes between shows.

“In their individual events, Matthew Barkley got superiors in playwrighting and monologue, Dre Turner and Austin Shaw got superiors in duet acting, Lana Harley and Logan Goodson got superiors in their duet musical, and Lauren Abel’s large group (musical number), ‘In,’ got superiors as well!

“Maddie Robichaux got an excellent on her monologues, and Derek Raynaud got excellents on his student directing. Emma Fitzhugh got superiors once again on her publicity, and LaNell Gray got Critics Choice for her room in costume design (and she did it all HERSELF!!)

“On top of this, the kids were slave labor for the vendor room and made buttons and sold our original shirts at the Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS booth to contribute $4,288 from District 1 ...

“These are amazing young people who are a blessing to me and bring honor to our school and community. Every day was 14+ hours of performing, working or learning in workshops from professionals in the field. ON THEIR SPRING BREAK! I’m so proud of them!”

Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer celebrating opening

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 10:22am

Celebrate the Grand Opening of Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce and reception on April 8.

Open to the general public, the Grand Opening will include a sampling of menu items, a cash bar and live music by Boukou Groove featuring Big D Perkins and Donnie Sundal overlooking the Destin Harbor.

Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer will also be presenting a donation to local non-profits Food for Thought Outreach, Inc. and Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast. Food For Thought provides backpacks filled with healthy food for students who are dependent on free school meals. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast serves members ages 5-18 who have started kindergarten and have not finished twelfth grade.

Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer is a locally owned and operated full-service restaurant located on the Historic Destin Harbor. The sister restaurant to Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi in HarborWalk Village, Brotula’s is the second concept established by longtime Destin locals, Tyler Jarvis and Chris Ruyan. The newly renovated 5,500+ square-foot restaurant offers lunch and dinner daily with indoor and outdoor dining options, live music and Sunday Brunch specials for diners to enjoy. Focused on steamed and boiled seafood, dishes will offer different finishing seasonings, flavored boiled waters, and finishing butters.

Want to go? The Grand Opening will be on April 8. The ribbon cutting ceremony will start at 4 p.m. A reception will immediately follow. Brotula's is located at 210 Harbor Blvd. in

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