Luisa Garcia Tate dreamed as a little girl in South America about what it would be like to live in the United States. Now, she's fulfilling her dreams by opening her own restaurant in Fort Walton Beach.
FORT WALTON BEACH — As an immigrant from Venezuela, South America, Luisa Garcia Tate remembers how hard her father worked to give his children a better life.
Although she didn't realize it then, Tate said, her father worked endlessly to provide for his nine children, driving daily from DeFuniak Springs to Fort Walton Beach for work.
Because of her father, Tate said, she had a dreamer's mentality, and that mentality pushed Tate to open her own restaurant — G.I. Jade Tiki Bar and Bistro, named for her son, who is in the Army, and her daughter, Jade.
For many years, Tate struggled to open the restaurant because of finances. But with the help of "angel lenders" and people who believed in her dream, Tate said she was finally able to follow through with her plan.
"It just seemed like the timing was right," she said.
The bar and bistro, currently undergoing construction, gives visitors a clear view of the Santa Rosa Sound. With a bistro building and tiki structures, the new business is unique. But Tate said she wanted visitors to experience different cultures.
"If you want to be in South America, you're here. If you want to be in Puerto Rico, you're here," Tate said. "The other day, a lady walked into the bistro side of it and looked inside ... She said, 'This feels like I'm in New England.' "
The restaurant will feature a wide variety of options from seafood baskets to popular bar foods like hamburgers to coffee and brunch food. Although the menu is still in the development process, Tate said they've narrowed down these options: seafood baskets, hamburgers, Sicilian pizzas, empanadas, beignets, and desserts, such as pies, flan and bread puddings. Of course, as a bar, beer and other alcoholic beverages will be available.
The road to reach Tate's dream wasn't easy, as she struggled and experienced trauma along the way.
She lost her brother, one son and husband in vehicle accidents.
Tate said she hopes to use her experiences to help others, whether military, tourists, or locals, through her restaurant.
"I want to feel like when people are battling something, they can just come and relax and talk," Tate said.
Tate said they plan to open the first week of September. The restaurant will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m, with the tiki bar remaining open into early morning hours, Tate said.
The business is at 38 Miracle Strip Parkway next to Marker 21 Marina, formerly known as the Emerald Coast Boatyard, of which Tate also assumed ownership.