What replaced Joe & Eddies? Fire Thai Fusion restaurant expands from food truck to restaurant

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — After operating out of a food truck since early last year, Fire Thai Fusion recently bloomed into a stand-alone restaurant in the building that formerly housed Joe & Eddie’s Family Restaurant.

The major leap occurred after a ton of renovations to the building at 400 Eglin Parkway N.E., said Aaron Thompson, who owns the Thai and Japanese fusion eatery with his wife, Mata. 

The new restaurant opened in mid-June. It seats about 175 customers and features a huge array of entrees as well as a full liquor bar, a professional sound system for private parties and curbside pickup and delivery. Its sushi bar could open in about mid-July, Thompson said.

Fire Thai Fusion is now open in the former Joe & Eddie's Family Restaurant on Eglin Parkway. The new restaurant started out as a food truck. One of the truck's former locations was at the corner of Eglin and Racetrack Road.

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The couple’s food-truck operation initially opened in May 2021 next to the El Paso restaurant in Mary Esther, where it served dishes such as hibachi shrimp and steak.

Not long afterward, the truck was moved to its new spot on the northwest corner of Eglin Parkway and Racetrack Road. It operated there until earlier this year, when the couple moved it to the site of their new restaurant.

Besides serving the Fort Walton Beach area, the truck had traveled to festivals and neighborhoods in cities such as Niceville, DeFuniak Springs, Navarre, Pensacola and Panama City.

“We did really well on the food truck,” Thompson said. “When we would go to DeFuniak Springs we would make like three grand in three hours.”

Joe & Eddie’s initially operated in downtown Fort Walton Beach from 1954 until 2005. It then reopened in 2008 in the building on Eglin Parkway and served customers there until its last day on Feb. 13 of this year.

Less than a week later, the Thompsons' friends, Robert and Kyong Sterner, closed on the purchase of the property. They purchased the site for $825,000, according to the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser’s Office website.

Fire Thai Fusion is now open in the former Joe & Eddie's Family Restaurant on Eglin Parkway.

Aaron Thompson said he and his wife lease the restaurant building and plan to eventually own it.

“I started the renovations on Feb. 28,” he said. “Most of the work was done by me.”

Thompson said he had to gut the entire building. The extensive changes he made included repairs to a walk-in freezer, an ice machine and coolers, the removal of old carpeting, the replacement of the air-conditioning unit and construction of the sushi bar. In addition, the waitress station from the old restaurant was removed and replaced with the full liquor bar.

“We have six beers on tap,” including Stella Artois and Shock Top, Thompson said.

Fire Thai Fusion’s lunch and dinner items are made by two Japanese chefs and one Thai chef. The Thompsons are looking to hire a chef to run the soon-to-open sushi bar.

Mata Thompson said the restaurant’s most popular menu items include the crispy pork with Chinese broccoli as well as the pad Thai.

“If people want a recommendation for a food they’ve never tried, the crispy pork is the best option,” she said.

The full menu is available at firethaifusion.com.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday; 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed on Monday.

To learn more, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page or call 850-586-5503.