PANAMA CITY BEACH — Flamingo Joe’s Market opened last February on Thomas Drive, where locals and visitors can stop by any day of the week for fresh Florida flavor.
Owner Joe Breakbill, aka “Flamingo Joe,” can be spotted at the market when he is not traveling the region in search of the best produce. He once owned Flamingo Joe’s Grill & Seafood down the street with Jennifer Baird, but the nickname stuck.
“A lot of people don’t even know my full name,” he said.
Flamingo Joe’s Market sells Flamingo Joe’s salsa, which you might have tried served warm at the restaurant. The salsa originates from a family recipe more than 100 years ago and has been mentioned in Southern Living magazine. Flamingo Joe’s original salsa is a sweet and tangy blend of tomatoes, onions and peppers, while other varieties at the market also include mango and hot habanero.
“The hot habenero is a new product out this year,” said Joe, who also sells Flamingo Joe’s Huli sauce for poultry, fish and veggies. “The Huli is an original recipe over 22 years. It’s a sweet dipping sauce or can be a marinade.”
The rain had just slowed to a light drizzle when I stopped by Tuesday morning, so much of the produce still was in the 12- by 12-square-foot building.
“We have the best brown free range farm eggs. I don’t eat anything else; it’s part of my pay,” said employee Polly, who pulled some out of the refrigerator to show me. “They are stronger, with a richer flavor, and the yolks are more yellow.”
The shelves inside were lined with fresh produce as well as Flamingo Joe’s products and Tupelo honey, with more produce outside.
“Southerners come in for the boiled peanuts. I haven’t had a northerner yet who likes them,” said Polly, who moved to the beach in 2009 to be near her son and grandkids. “You can’t get the green ones now, but when he has them, he puts a big sign above the peanuts.”
Polly showed me a book where she writes down requests for produce from new and regular customers, such as one who juices.
“We are well known for our $3 baskets of tomatoes,” Polly said. “Peaches are a huge seller in season.”
The grapefruit, pink and white, and oranges are picked from trees around the beach.
“We have fresh Indian River fruit, vine-ripened tomatoes and farm fresh produce straight from the field to us within 24 hours, including Plant City strawberries,” Joe said. “We get it right from the grower, farmer or field.”
Joe plans to begin selling plants and herbs soon, as well as fresh Gulf shrimp.
“It’s local. We’re friendly and here every day,” said Polly, who works at Goodwill full-time. “I’m here on my days off because it’s fun and I love it.”
FLAMINGO JOE’S MARKET
What: Fresh produce, boiled peanuts, firewood, Tupelo honey, Flamingo Joe’s salsa and sauce
Where: 4009 Thomas Dr. by Pirates Cove Marina, Panama City Beach
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
Details: (850) 252-3439