October 13, 2012
After sitting vacant since 2008, a local developer plans to breathe new life into the old Destin Diner.
"My desire is to restore the old grandeur of the Destin Diner," said new owner Ryan Jumonville. "I want to restore the nostalgic feelings that came from eating there as a child."
Located at the intersection of Airport Road and U.S. Hwy. 98, the iconic Destin Diner opened its doors in 1992 after the family of former State Sen. Charlie Clary built the breakfast hotspot. Jumonville purchased the property and the 2,367-square foot diner Oct. 10 for $765,000.
At one point, the diner was slated to become a 4,720-square foot, 140-seat Denny's franchise, which was a step up from the original 85-seat eatery.
"After numerous delays, the franchisee decided not to move forward," said John Paul Somers, broker at John Paul Somers and Company.
With the propert changing hands, Somers diner renovated, "back online" and serving food within the next three to six months. He is currently negotiating with potential operators for the diner, ranging from a Greek-influenced concept to classic American cuisine.
Somers also negotiated the deal between Jumonville and the previous owner. "When we are in those nostalgic type of places, retro environments, it makes you think about great parts of your past and great memories," Somers said of the metallic eatery, which is straight out of the '50s diner era.
Jumonville made headlines in June when he acquired the old First Note Music Hall building, after the successful South Walton venue closed weeks earlier. Somers said the restaurant portion of the old First Note building has been leased to a restaurateur out of Perdido Key that plans to transform the space into a "South Beach" inspired lounge with an expansive wine collection, top-notch cocktails and mouthwatering desserts. The upstairs space has been leased by a fitness operator.