Entrepreneur/Restauranteur Dave Rauschkolb Wins Van Ness Butler Jr. Hospitality Award
“Even one person can make a difference and come up with an idea that’s crazy enough to create change."
The Walton County Tourist Department has named Dave Rauschkolb as the winner of its annual Van Ness Butler Jr. Hospitality Award.
This hospitality award was established in 2003 to recognize excellence in hospitality service, travel/tourism marketing, advertising, promotion, and contributions to the local community.
“To share that commonalty of passion and to join hands with the previous winners is a tremendous honor,” Rauschkolb says. “I couldn’t be more grateful to the community and excited to be one of those people that has helped to carry the torch and will continue to do so.”
Dace Rauschkolb opened Seaside’s famous Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant in 1986 with partner Scott Witcoski and it’s been a staple of the area ever since. From an early meeting with Seaside founder Robert Davis, Rauschkolb recalls being impressed with the planning and vision that was already in place and was excited for the opportunity to be a significant voice in the development of the new town. He has since gone on to establish the Taco Bar and the Pizza Bar & Trattoria as complements to the dining options at Bud & Alley’s. His most recent endeavor was the creation of Black Bear Bread Co. with partner Chef Phil McDonald in 2016 which now has three locations in Grand Boulevard, Grayton Beach, and Seaside.
“Making people happy across multiple generations has been the most fun,” Rauschkolb says. “Having people meet here, get engaged here, and then I organize their wedding, and then they come back every year. Seeing that is the most rewarding thing for me.”
With a passion for surfing, it’s only natural that Rauschkolb would also be a strong advocate for the beaches and waters of Florida’s coast. He would take his innate leadership skills and apply them to advocacy when he created the Hands Across the Sand Initiative in February 2010.
The main goal of the movement was to stop an offshore oil drilling bill headed to the state senate that spring. He organized an event where more than 10,000 people across 80 Florida beaches would join hands for 15 minutes. The event would grow later that summer to all 50 states and 48 countries becoming an international phenomenon, with one event in Italy garnering an attendance of 6,000.
“Those are the kinds of things that make me happy,” he says. “Even one person can make a difference and come up with an idea that’s crazy enough to create change.”
As for joining the ranks of previous Van Ness Butler Jr. Award winners, Rauschkolb is thrilled.
He attributes the previous winners with a “commonalty of passion” for what they do and the care they have for Walton County.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to the community and excited to be one of those people that has helped carry the torch and will continue to do so,” he says.
Dave Rauschkolb is the 17th individual to be recognized with the Van Ness Butler Jr. Hospitality award. The award honors and recognizes excellence in the hospitality, service, travel/tourism, advertising, and promotion industries, as well as contributions to the local community. His continued efforts to make South Walton a world-class destination for multiple decades and the success of his business ideas make him a natural choice for the award.
Previous recipients include the likes of Lino Maldonado, Chef Jim Shirley, Jeanne Dailey and Jennifer Steele.
For more information on Dave Rauschkolb visit here.