Shades Bar and Grill — 30A's Time-Honored Hot Spot for American Classics - 30A


Shades Bar and Grill — 30A’s Time-Honored Hot Spot for American Classics

By: Carrie Honaker | Posted Mar 18, 2022

It gets hot biking 30A under the bright Florida sunshine. Sometimes you need to cool down, have a refreshing beverage, and grab a bite. That’s how I first got to know Shades Bar and Grill. My family of four biked 30A every Sunday and often found ourselves ending the afternoon at Shades for a heaping portion of smoked tuna dip, hot chicken wings, cool lemonades, and frosty pints of local beer. That was 20 years ago when they were still in Seaside

In 2006 they packed up and built their new home in Inlet Beach. They still serve up a shady respite for weary travelers. The wings are still hot and served with their homemade bleu cheese. The beer menu features lots of local brews served in frosty pints. And the tuna for the dip is still smoked out back daily.

Shades Exterior

“We built this building (Inlet Beach location) and when our lease came up in Seaside, we decided to move down here. We wanted this to be a destination for friends, family, sports, good beer, and good food,” said Joe Freer, one of the owners and partner in Last Call Restaurant Group (LCRG). 

But this wasn’t Joe’s first foray into restaurants. He moved to Atlanta when he was 21 and hooked up with one of his LCRG business partners, Greg Wakeham. Wakeham started the Taco Mac chain of restaurants back in 1979 and Joe came on board as a line cook. Hard work turned into ownership and the opportunity to buy the existing Shades in Seaside back in 1994. “Greg was building a home for his wife in Seaside. We went to Shades to have a couple of beers and ended up meeting somebody that knew the owners. They called Greg and asked if he wanted to buy it. The rest is history,” said Joe. Joe’s brother John became the last piece of the puzzle, launching LCRG along with sister restaurants Pescado and Shaka Sushi and Noodle Bar.

Countless Taps at Shades

Ample seating inside and out, a game room for kids, TVs visible from every vantage point, and friendly staff welcome residents and visitors alike. A recent post bike ride reminded me why I love this spot at the east end of 30A. Our server Chris quickly brought a couple of 30A Beach Blonde ales to quench our thirst. We followed up with tuna dip, still smoky and full of hunks of fresh tuna and served with a generous portion of crunchy lavash. Lively conversations erupted around us and a variety of sports broadcast from the 15 plus TVs sprinkled around the dining room. Outside, kids were playing corn hole while parents watched from the bench. 

We rounded out lunch with two of Joe’s favorites. “We’ve been making our Philly Cheesesteak the same way forever. I love it. I still eat it twice a week, which I probably shouldn’t, but I do. And I love the chicken wings. I think there’s some of the best around here,” said Joe. He was right.

And it’s not just the food that’s worth mentioning. It’s the efficient service, the way everyone seems to work together to make things run smoothly lunch, dinner, and late-night services. Tables are cleared quickly. Drinks are constantly being refilled. Customers are checked on regularly. Everything runs like a well-oiled machine. 

Appetizers and Entrees at Shades

On my way out I noticed a guitar hanging on the wall beside the bathroom. Signatures of various artists decorate it. “I asked Justin Moore to sign it one day, and he did and then it kind of progressed from there. Now it has Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown, and other musicians that have come through Shades. It’s become a thing,” said Joe.  

From the expansive parking to the comfortable seating, to the vast craft beer selection, to the varied menu, to the top-notch service, to the welcoming atmosphere, Shades Bar & Grill delivers. And coming soon a beautifully landscaped entrance to an underground tunnel for bikers and walkers to cross Highway 98 will be right outside Shade’s front door. 

30A ????️ ???? Inlet Beach, Florida

Who’d take a beach lot for $50??? ????‍♀️

Presented by MarineMax & Grady-White Boats
MarineMax Panama City Beach
MarineMax Fort Walton Beach
MarineMax Pensacola
MarineMax of Alabama

Posted by 30A on Saturday, 20 November 2021

For more info, visit Shades Bar and Grill or follow them on Facebook.


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Carrie Honaker is a Florida-based freelance writer who is not sure where she will land next, but it will involve messy eating, a spicy Tempranillo, and finding the local dive bar. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Bon Appetit, and others. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @writeonhonaker.