On the Flora-Bama

I first learned about the Flora-Bama on our first trip to the Alabama coast in the early 2000s when we visited my in-laws wintering in that area. My father-in-law raved about it, so we went for dinner and music while not knowing what to expect.

“Honky tonk” is a good first-impression description. The weathered siding – floors probably hosed down at the end of the day. The room was full of patrons engaging in food, beverages, and conversation while listening to music in a room with many pieces of underwear hanging from above. I recall enjoying watching the patrons.

However, over time I learned that “honky tonk” isn’t applicable – after all, I introduced it to you in this past post as the Last Great American Roadhouse.

My in-laws would change locations every few years, so time passed between my visits to this local icon. The next would be between 2005-2007 they rented about 2+ miles away. It’s also easy to remember because in September 2004, Hurricane Ivan brought havoc to the area – including upon the Flora-Bama. National news even reported that Ivan devastated it.

Despite the fake news (I couldn’t resist), the legendary Flora-Bama would not die. Battered and sand-filled, it re-opened after cleaning and a bit of restoration that probably included nails and hammers.

We took this image dated 13 February 2005

I recall it seems more rickety than ever – but that was part of its charm. Refrigerated trailers were in front of the building for storing food and beer. A temporary shack sold souvenirs.

florabamatempentrance

The housing-financial collapse of 2008 delivered another crushing blow as the principal owners filed bankruptcy because of failing real estate investments. The long-time owners became minority owners and the new ownership restored the venerable venue.

The trailers and the souvenir shack are gone, but the rustic weathered look remains. The new Flora-Bama is a mixture of old and new that maintains the original character. The original area I first sat remains as another music area – as does the adjacent large tent area.

florabamadeckstage

Inside the new brick front contains a large area for merchandise with a main lounge and stage on the second floor. The decor is a display of pictures, framed news articles, fishing nets, underwear, musical instruments, license plates, and more to go along with the countless names written with a black marker onto the walls.

florabamamainbar

With 3 stages, music is plentiful at the Flora-Bama. Yep – there are times when three musical acts are playing at the same time! On this night, only Rhonda Hart and Jonathan Newton were performing. We enjoyed them so much, we heard them three times.

florabamamainstage

The Flora-Bama is alive and well. The colorful place with a colorful past that includes a large cast of colorful characters remains. A place for a wide range of ages from different places – from northern snowbirds to colors – from retirees to young adults. From low-key weekday afternoons to raucous weekend nights. If you are ever in Pensacola, Perdido Key, Orange Beach, or Gulf Shores, consider stopping by the Flora-Bama Lounge Oyster Bar and Package Store

Entering from the beach – Notice the tents to the right!

 

One of the opportunities to take a picture.

 

Because many enjoyed the Kenny Chesney song about the Flora-Bama in my previous post, it’s still appropriate here.

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34 thoughts on “On the Flora-Bama

  1. Nothing is a good as a well seasoned local place. Looks like fun.
    We have one that’s been through hurricanes located under the tall bridge at the entrance to Clear Lake. A survivor with scars, but lots of people find relaxing and enjoy it. (when tourist don’t find it). Sadly the highway department will be doing what nature hasn’t managed – a new bridge and road going right through that spot before long……wonder if it could be moved…probably not with all the glue and string holding it together HA HA
    Have a great week, Frank

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce,
      Great point of Flora-Bama’s ability to bounce back after a knockdown. Oh this place looks so different now since even 6 years ago, let alone 2005.

      I have not added my name to a wall, but hey … I guess it’s time to make it a priority!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yup. I’m probably one of a dozen people in Romania right now that enjoys country music. And, based on my wife’s expression when I played this song, she’s not one of the dozen 😉

    So thanks for bringing a bit of culture to our little part of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gabe,
      Cheers to you being one of the dozen. It’s a fitting video and song for this place, thus why I had to bring it back.

      Romania? … I assuming hiking. I’ve heard that Romania is beautiful! Enjoy!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Large musical venues of distinction, seem to be becoming increasing scarce, like bookstores. If I ever find myself misplaced on the Alabama coast I would not have a problem spending some time here -honky tonk or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Since reading this, I have been sitting at my desk reminiscing of a honkytonk of sorts from my past.Gingers was the oldest and longest running tavern in one location on Holis Street in Halifax. I lived over top of it for six months whilst attending art school in the early the mid eighties. It was ‘the place’ to go for live music of all genres and for beer -Keith’s, Schooner and Moosehead -period, bottle or pitcher. It was a rough and tumble kind of establishment -a second home for locals and passing merchant/naval sailors for it’s seedy side -a side which often flowed out the doors and onto the street. A plethora of stories, none which I would repeat here. Six months was long enough. My next place I lived was more sedate across the harbour in Dartmouth.

    Thank you Frank, I will be sure to give the next beach walk a read. And thank you for stirring up some memories from my past.

    And here is an image link from the web I found of Ginger’s -from the late sixties I suspect. The building and street did not look that ‘homey’. My three windows were on the front farthest corner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Calvin,
      Glad I was able to rekindle a memory for you. Gingers sounds like a classic, so thanks for sharing and with a pic! I’ve got the feeling you would enjoy the Flora-Bama.

      Like

  5. It’s a colorful, musical place indeed. Most of the peeps up north aren’t familiar with the area, and not having been there myself, I am just going off the representations I’ve been gifted by those who have visited. As per usual, you provide the knowledge AND the fun.

    (Fake news . . hahaha!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We have seen so many “beach city wonders” come and go, and some, from my childhood, although gone for a long time now, continue to be happy memories. I think that Flora-Bama brings nostalgia into the present and is really special! How wonderful that it has survived when so many other beach-city venues have been torn down to make way for condominiums. LOL! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      When I first saw the place, my first thought was about the land’s worth vs. the building. After all, it is flanked by condos. But since I’ve learned more about it, cheers to its existence! Glad you enjoyed the two posts about this place … and I hope you get to visit it someday.

      Like

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