What’s in a name? The Story Behind Shunk Gulley

Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar. Photo Credit: 8 Fifty Productions

If you’ve passed by the corner of Hwy 393 and 30-A, you’ve more than likely seen the addition to the 30A landscape, Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar. The seafood and casual fare restaurant (and 30A Hot Spot winner!) has a packed menu, open air decks with panoramic views and outdoor green, live music, a great selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, but what exactly is a “Shunk Gulley?”

“It’s the question we get asked more than anything else, what does the name mean?”

Thomas Gallion

Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar Owner Thomas Gallion shared the story behind the name.

“The Shunk family is one of the original families to the area. The story of Shunk Gulley comes from long-time local fishermen who used to launch their boats out of what is now the Ed Walline Beach Access, at the end of Hwy 393.” he said.

Before navigation equipment, fishermen would have to note their own landmarks in order to return to their favorite fishing spots. The land where Hwy 393 runs is clearly elevated and could easily be spotted from the Gulf, that’s why the fishermen identified it.

The Shunks would boat directly out until they would get on top of the “Shunk gulley” and that name has been passed down over the generations.

“Many divers have noted that it is a very unique diving spot with a gulley that runs north to south and is legendary for being covered up with fish. When I was designing and constructing the building for the restaurant, the tower seemed to be the perfect spot to look out over the Shunk Gulley,” said Gallion.

Incorporating this local history into the Shunk Gulley story connects new with old, business with community, and highlights the restaurant’s mission to give back.

Early on Shunk Gulley partnered with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) to help provide artificial reefs for fishing and diving. New artificial reef structures have been deployed in the Gulf which bear the Shunk Gulley name. They have also partnered with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to recycle oyster shells to help rebuild local reefs.

So from now on when you hear “Shunk Gulley,” you’ll know a little more about this local place with a funny name. A place for delicious food and great service, and of course, a great view of the famous gulley.

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JESSICA ROBERTS is a Santa Rosa Beach writer and event producer. When not working or writing, you’ll find her out on the water or traveling somewhere new.

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