September 15, 2014
I spent the last week in Pensacola Beach, Florida. It’s white sands, sunshine and beautiful ocean are quite a draw – it’s also the place that I got married and one of my favorite places to think, explore, and have a lot of fun. We paddle boarded, kayaked (11 miles down a river), swam in the ocean (even at sunrise) and laughed a lot.
Of course, even when I’m on holiday I’m looking for clever ideas and design adventures – and I found them. We went into Pensacola and found ourselves in a store where I felt completely at home – Urban Objects. Sarah (the owner) and Joy are as enthusiastic about good design and clever ideas as I am – and they made my day. They showed me around their store, from the doll head wine stoppers created by artist Lisa Bosarge (delightful), to some absolute design classics (that still take my breath away). They raved equally about local artists and design classics. They also told me where else to visit in downtown Pensacola – now that’s customer service (and you know how I am about great customer service) – they changed my day completely with their insider knowledge.
We took their advice – when someone gives you local insights you should listen – and crossed the road over to the old Court House which is now an art gallery – Artel (a not for profit, experimental art gallery) – completely staffed by informed volunteers – we met Melvin and his dog, Rocco who played ball as we smiled at the original range of art pieces. What a wonderful use of an old Court House or any other unused (or under used) public building – this made me as happy as the art itself. I know a few cities that could follow this example.
We then followed Joy’s advice to go and eat at Carmen’s Lunch Bar. To start, who can resist a place called a Lunch Bar? We had been told the food was pretty special and Joy told me of the clever way that the Lunch Bar got it’s start. Offer me a good startup story and great food – I’m pretty much in heaven. Pensacola ran a business challenge and the prize was a beautiful space downtown comprising of a three year lease of approximately 800 sq ft of newly-redeveloped retail space in historic Downtown Pensacola at incredible discount rates, up to $25,000 in build-out and startup capital funds to be used for equipment, building upgrades, or furniture and ongoing business mentorship by some of the best, brightest, and most successful business leaders in our area.
Carmen’s Lunch Bar was the winner – and I could see why. The food was fresh, locally sourced and full of flavor. We may have gone back for a second lunch later in the week. Yes, it was that good.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a few hours away from the beach and discovering something new. Even if you don’t make it to Pensacola (although if you do, you know where to go) take some time to explore a new place. Follow your interests and you never know what you may find. Inspiration really is everywhere.
Thank you Joy and Sarah, I will be visiting when I am in town next.