Bud & Alley’s Is Better Than Ever Yet Still the Same
Thirty-seven years ago, Dave Rauschkolb went surfing with a friend, and the outing changed his life.
He was rounding a curve at Western Lake in Seaside when Rauschkolb’s surfing companion, Scott Witkoski, asked if they could stop and look at a building that was for rent. Reluctantly, Rauschkolb agreed. Little did he know that the fully equipped and stocked building, which had been used as a dining establishment, would become his.
Witkoski inquired if Rauschkolb would be his partner in opening a restaurant. Rauschkolb had worked as a server and knew that at the time, the area experienced only four busy months each year. He would think on it.
Rauschkolb was waffling until he met Robert Davis and heard about his vision for Seaside. The realization of that vision would turn a sleepy, no-stop-sign town into an iconic community and vacation destination.
Witkoski and Rauschkolb decided they wanted their restaurant to be unpretentious and focused on quality food and good times. Naming their restaurant after a dog and a cat was about as far from pretentious as they could get.
The early years were slow, but enough to sustain the business. As the area gained traction, so did Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant.
“When you’ve been in business almost 40 years, your business becomes generational,” Rauschkolb said. “People come here as kids, then bring their kids here. It becomes a tradition because great food, service and atmosphere are a constant thread in an often inconsistent world.”
Bud & Alley’s was a pioneer in North Florida in offering farm-and-Gulf-to-table cuisine. Rauschkolb and Witkoski knew that fresh, high-quality food would never go out of style. Today, this dedication to excellence extends to Bud and Alley’s sister restaurants, The Taco Bar and Pizza Bar + Trattoria.
In 2006, Rauschkolb bought out Witkoski’s interest in Bud & Alley’s. Eleven years later, he bought the restaurant building from Davis.
“Working alongside Robert and Daryl Davis all these years both as landlords and now as collaborators has been a pleasure and honor I’m truly grateful for,” Rauschkolb said.
As the building’s owner, Rauschkolb made big plans for renovations and enhancements, which were completed in 2021.
A rooftop deck offering panoramic views of both the Gulf and Seaside’s Central Square was expanded by 850 square feet. An elevator carries customers to the deck.
Other additions include a full-service bar that fronts Scenic Highway 30A and a back deck that leads to a beach boardwalk. Noted Seaside architect Dhiru Thadani designed the improvements Rauschkolb’s wife, Carol, made interior design selections.
Rauschkolb, meanwhile, kept the original character of downstairs dining areas intact, a decision appreciated by the restaurant’s many longterm customers.
“I still have to pinch myself when I go up on the rooftop,” Rauschkolb said. “It’s hard for me to express just how grateful I am and how I still can’t believe I’m the guy that got to do this and make this place what it is.”