'We put real food in our food': New restaurant coming to Destin

Savannah Vasquez
The old Wendy's location in Destin will soon be home to Panini Pete's based out of Fairhope, Ala.

A new restaurant is coming to town and it’s coming soon. Panini Pete’s, as seen on Food Network, will be moving in to the old Wendy’s building at 1071 Hwy. 98 East as early as mid-March.

The Destin location will be the first in Florida as Panini Pete’s opened their flagship store in Fairhope, Ala. 10 years ago and launched their second location in Mobile in 2012.

“Really what we try to do at Panini Pete’s is create a good, fun, upbeat atmosphere that’s all about food,” said restaurant owner Pete Blohme. “Our motto is, ‘We put real food in our food and we never met a stranger; That’s our approach to food and our approach to hospitality.”

As a chef, Blohme said he has had a love affair with food ever since he was a teenager and he applies that love into every aspect of his work.

“Our food has been featured on Food Network with 'Diners Drive-ins and Dives' and 'Guy’s Big Bite,' and now I’m working with Messlords, cooking and entertaining the troops,” he said. “Food has taken me all over the world.”

So what is served at Panini Pete’s and just how fresh is the food?

“We have our dressing and aioli spreads made from scratch, incredible handmade mozzarella, we roast all of our own meats, and have fresh cut fries and fresh cut potato chips,” Blohme said. “Also our beignets are a real hit. I try to put my own spin on them, they are a little more pastry-ish, custardy-ish, and served with fresh squeezed lemon too, it’s my own little twist and they are really killer.”

As for the hospitality side, Blohme said he said he takes a strong sense of pride in his restaurant’s customer service, and leads by example.

“We have our motto and the thing that makes me proud is that we actually back it up,” he said. “My partner, Nick Dimario and I will both be there a lot, especially early on. One of the cool things to help make this new location possible is that I am partnering with a company called Fresh Hospitality. We are preparing to launch this brand and Destin will be the first market.”

With the Destin location, Blohme said there will be a few aesthetic changes to the building, and lots of unique food features offered exclusively to this Florida community.

“One of the things we are excited with this going into Destin is we are reformatting it to a market too,” he said. “We will be offering beach boxes with paninis, sides, water, juice, or beer so you can come in for breakfast and get your lunch and you can bring good food to the beach. We are also entertaining the idea of a basic market with provisions such as a dozen eggs. We will play to the market and see what works.”

When asked why he chose Destin as his first out-of-state location, Blohme said an opportunity arose that he just couldn’t turn down.

“An opportunity came up and I was like, ‘Destin, OK!’ I didn’t have to think too long about that,” he said. “It’s a great market and if you’ve got to go work, it’s a nice place to work with the beautiful beaches and nice people.”

Destin’s Panini Pete’s will seat 100-120 patrons with indoor and outdoor patio dining and will feature a limited menu drive through. For more information visit