DESTIN — Helen Back is back.
Chris Sehman, owner of the former Helen Back restaurants in Northwest Florida, will open a new eatery featuring the Helen Back menu.
Prime'd at the Palms, located at the Palms Resort at 4201 Indian Bayou Trail in Destin, will be a casual resort-style restaurant, Sehman said. A large glassed-in smoker on display at the eatery will be used to cook an assortment of smoked entrees. Helen Back's pizza will be a staple, of course, as well as two indoor and outdoor bars open from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
"I've done Helen Back pizza for the past 17 years in my 28 years in the bar business in the Panhandle," Sehman said Thursday at the restaurant. "My first order of business is getting the pizza perfect. My partner and chef is going to get the smoker cranking for smoked prime ribs, smoked salmon and to smoke our own bacon. We're also going to serve breakfast and a Sunday brunch."
Sehman said he hopes to open Prime'd by Saturday, March 16.
Helen Back, a military-friendly sports bar that served free pizza every Monday to the military, closed all its locations following an issue with unpaid sales taxes. Sehman said he currently is tied up in a lawsuit after the sale of the former Helen Back bars to another local businessman went sour.
"Two years earlier I had someone fail to file a bunch of my taxes when I was out of town," Sehman said. "It was my fault. Ultimately, as all of it built up to having to pay fines and fees. I couldn't overcome it while dealing with other things. If it's a sales tax thing, they turn off your liquor license. At the end of the day, it was resolvable with the contract and purchase of my business. If the buyer would have gone down the path we laid out, it could have been resolved. When he didn't, I had to close."
Despite the bad luck, Sehman said he is thrilled to start a new restaurant. But he still plans to reopen an official Helen Back soon.
"It felt like crap," Sehman said of the closings. "I was lost and heartbroken in a sense. It started a big personal journey for me."
Although the menu is not finalized, some of the solidified entrees Sehman is excited for customers to try is the Prime'd $22.95 shrimp creole and the market-priced fish specials like pompano papillote. He also plans to host $19.95 smoked prime rib nights, which used to be a popular Sunday tradition at the former restaurant at the Palms Resort.
Prime'd will feature a pool table and games for children. There will also be live music and ample TVs to watch sports.
Sehman will also cater for the resort's event hall.
"I know to make a pizza, barely," Sehman joked. "I'm going to still do a big push for our military. I'm going to bring back free pizza on Monday nights and maybe even free prime rib specials. I'm ready to be back."
Prime'd will be open seven days a week. Breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. and dinner will start at 5 p.m.