Victoria’s Last Bite welcomes back friends – News – Panama City News Herald

Lynn Haven restaurant reopens across the street after Hurricane Michael

LYNN HAVEN — The chicken doesn’t have to cross the road since Victoria’s Last Bite moved across the street.

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“I loved the other building but this feels like home,” said Judy Tinder, who co-owns the restaurant with Vickie Cook.

Victoria’s Last Bite, which had been closed since Hurricane Michael hit Oct. 10, reopened March 5 at 827 Florida Ave. — home to the restaurant’s commercial kitchen for its USDA inspected chicken salad and catering.

“The storm, as far as business, has been a blessing because we already owned this building,” Tinder said.

What once was a storage area in front of the chicken salad facility has now been completely renovated — from the luxury vinyl plank floors in the dining room, new kitchen tile and the restrooms’ paper bag floors to the plumbing, paint and faux brick wall.

“We worked on the renovation seven days a week since Jan. 2,” said Tinder, who added they had taken Jan. 1 off after serving at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport from Nov. 8 through Dec. 31. “We were cooking three meals a day for 100 people seven days a week. Everybody got to work.”

Before reopening, Victoria’s Last Bite was even selling chicken salad in front of the restaurant. Customers currently can get chicken salad by the pound at the restaurant and Callaway Grocery Outlet.

“The commercial kitchen is exactly the same, but the inspector’s office has been moved to the back,” said Tinder, who also is a Lynn Haven city commissioner.

On the heels of its five-year anniversary March 19, the new restaurant brings back all the hominess, charm and signature eclectic decorations, as well as the crew of familiar faces — such as Tinder’s daughter Kathy. Vases with fresh flowers adorn tables inside and out on the patio, where the owners threw in a few surprises, such as utensils, while mixing concrete. The black metal gate was erected from Lynn Haven fences that had been tossed to the curb after the hurricane. Black foam insulated ceilings now drip with lights, wind chimes, washboards, wagons, watering cans and bird houses. 

“I want people just to sit and stare,” Tinder said as she looked up.

“You can’t beat that building,” said Cook, as she pointed across the street. “Yet I feel more at home over here. Without the storm, we probably never would have changed.”

Canvases of grandchildren hang near the entrance, while snapshots of family and employees show off some of the renovation process.

Opening day was filled with couples, families and friends spread out amidst the tables and booths in the restaurant that now seats an additional six.

“We served 96 today,” Tinder said.

Every meal still comes with one of their handmade truffles, which have earned them first place in the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Death by Chocolate events. But customers can get more truffles to tide them over till their next visit. Bags of handmade truffles — Original, Mint, Peanut Butter, and Sweet & Salty are available for purchase from shelves lining the wall painted to resemble chocolate overflowing from above sprinkled with animated truffles.

“We’ve been mass producing truffles; we made 2,000 getting ready for this week,” Tinder said.

The chicken salad — with just the right amount of creaminess from the mayonnaise and texture from the chopped celery and pecans — was even better than I’d remembered as it oozed out of my half sandwich on wheat. My familiar Half Combo also featured the Soup of the Day, Broccoli Cheese as advertised on mascot Victor’s chalkboard frying pan, as well as Cucumber Salad and Original Truffle, of course. My husband filled his craving for chicken salad on croissant and Chicken & Dumplings, which is made from the broth of the split chicken breasts that are cooked for the chicken salad.

Combos also may feature tuna salad, pimento cheese, Boar’s Head turkey, ham and roast beef sandwiches, or sides of pasta salad.

“The menu is the exactly the same, same recipes, with the addition of a Breakfast Sampler with a little bit of everything,” Tinder said.

The sampler features quiche, hash brown casserole, a slice of banana nut bread, and sausage gravy over croissant, served with mixed fruit.


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