The cool breeze coming off of the Intracoastal waterways makes the outside patio of Hurricane Alley Raw Bar and Restaurant refreshing even in the scorching summer heat. This also makes it a prime location for the upcoming Summer Sizzle, which will commemorate the restaurant’s 20th anniversary. While the landscape around the raw bar has changed over the years, this staple on Ocean Avenue has remained consistent in providing patrons with a welcoming environment.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Kim Kelly, owner of Hurricane Alley, to discuss what this monumental occasion means to her. At first encounter, Kelly comes off as a no nonsense, tell it like it is business owner, which undeniable she is, but after speaking with the self-made woman for only a few minutes I realized that she is also probably the most genuine and humble business professionals that I have ever encountered. She attributes much of her success to her patrons, who she doesn’t call customers, but guests because they are an extension of her family. Kelly depends on her regular guests for their assistance, guidance, and support because she knows that she wouldn’t be where she is today without them.
“At the end of the day when you sit back and watch the people walk in and you see them talking and laughing and, you know, that’s how they’re spending the end of their day,” said Kelly. “That makes me feel really good that they’re doing that here and that’s when you know you’ve accomplished something.”
Kelly was quick to admit that ownership has not always been smooth sailing, rather a bumpy journey with lots of laughs and tears. In 1996, following a trend out of California for coffee houses, Kelly began her journey as a restaurant owner when she opened Café Barista. While she gained some steam the first year, receiving Nova’s Glass Ceiling Award, Kelly quickly realized after being faced with a series of struggles and setbacks that being a restaurant owner was painstaking and incredibly stressful.
After three years, Kelly realized that the café wasn’t going in the direction that she had envisioned and that something needed to change. And that’s exactly what happened when Kelly and two of her best friends came up with a new name and concept for the space, turning the café into a nautical haven.
Through continued efforts and dedication Kelly has shattered the glass ceiling that once confined her. What started off as a snack shop with 26 seats has grown into a full blown seafood restaurant and bar that now seats 150 guests. By far Kelly feels that her biggest accomplishment has been surviving all the bumps along the way. Weathering more than a few storms in her day, Kelly knows how to come out on the top –triumphant and fierce with a dedicated heart that will surely lead her to another 20 years of success.
“It’s always going to be a full-time job to me,” Kelly admitted. “Because if you walk away, that’s when you lose, that’s when restaurants start to crumble. It’s always going to be my baby.”
The family friendly Summer Sizzle will be held on July 30, 2016 from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The sizzle is sure to heat up Ocean Avenue with live music from Making Faces, Big Medicine, County Line Road, and local hip hop artist Cartoon Misfits. The event will feature art from local artists, street vendors, and fun activities like a Cornhole tournament, giant Jenga, stilt walkers, free giveaways, and contests. During all of the fun and festivities there will be a candlelight vigil honoring Jeff Surgerner and Phil Remery, the two friends who inspired the beach and surf theme that rebranded Hurricane Alley into what it is today.
For more information, visit the restaurant’s website.