Developer goes vertical with 'simple' restaurant at former St. John's church

Matt Algarin
Doug Hurst with Coastal Concrete levels out the foundation Thursday afternoon for the site of a future barbecue restaurant on Highway 98.

The ground has been leveled and the foundation poured on what's poised to become a barbecue restaurant at 303 Harbor Boulevard.

"I'm going to keep it simple, simple," said local businessman Mike Buckingham, who is the man behind the project.

Buckingham purchased the roughly .34-acre parcel of land, which was once home to St. John Greek Orthodox Church, in March for $330,000 with plans to construct a 1,200-square foot restaurant. The church, which was razed last month, was originally constructed by the Maltezos as a family chapel and was dedicated in 1984.

 The plan, Buckingham said, is to have a small restaurant where locals could go and enjoy good food. While working at the site recently, Buckingham said he would like to see something similar to the old Rib Shack that was once a "Destin favorite."

"I still haven't picked out the name yet," he said.

While he is doing most of the work himself, Buckingham is well on pace to open before the summer season.

"If all goes as planned, I'll be open in about four months," Buckingham said.