Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Kat N Harri's Phenomenon and Connection to Cafe Thirty-A

I set out last Friday on a heading 180 degrees (due South) from the Gump traveling a secret shortcut (which involves passing through the Kinston) until the last road I crossed before splashing headlong into the Gulf of Mexico was the famous 30-A of South Walton County, Florida a/k/a SoWal. I admit, it was not the first time I had ventured to those little slices of beach heaven called Grayton, Blue Mountain, Watercolor, Seaside or Seagrove. Indeed, there is a strong connection between the Gump and the SoWal beaches that lie along 30-A exactly due South from Montgomery, Alabama.

Here's my proof:

Where is Kat N Harri's? If you know the answer to that question you are officially a Gumper. But think about it, is it listed in the phone book? No. Is there a sign anywhere showing its location. No. Is there any business in Montgomery by that name? No. Yet, Montgomerians still send out invitations to parties with the location stated to be Kat N Harri's and everyone knows what they mean. Why? Because 20 years ago (or so) there was a bar called Kat N Harri's in Old Cloverdale where all kinds of Brombergian escapades took place and marriages by the score destroyed. It was a happening place where mischief abounded. Now it is a overflow party room used by Jublilee Seafood's Bud Skinner but it is still called Kat N Harri's by Gumpers.

Who is the owner of Cafe Thirty-A in SoWal? Again, Gumpers can name her and know that she was a co-owner of Kat N Harri's. She is none other than the now famous Harriet Cromelin whose restaurant has been named one of the finest in Florida. It is one of my favorites also.  I never miss an opportunity to enjoy a martini there.  The wine list is also impressive.  The Wood Oven Roasted Grouper is to die for.
SoWal is almost overrun by Gumpers in season. Not only do many Gump Ex-Pats reside there for tax purposes (I hear there may be no income taxes in Florida) but many others have either owned homes there or regularly visited since they were tiny tots. The water is clearer and the beaches nicer than just about anywhere in the upper Gulf (sorry Orange Beach but it is true).
The view from a Watercolor suite.

One of the benefits of living in the Gump is its proximity to the Gulf, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Highlands, N.C. But for me, nothing much beats a meal at Cafe Thirty-A or sitting at Bud & Alley's in Seaside Saturday morning reading a good book (they have no televisions you know) and only having to raise a finger for the bar tender to know I desired another Bloody Mary. Yes, I have been there many times.  It feels like home to me.

And that also speaks volumes about the city we affectionately call "The Gump."

Cafe Thirty-A on Urbanspoon


  1. I really miss Sundays at Kat N Harris and well as the Bistro that used to be next door, which was owned and operated by Harriet. That place was fantastic.

  2. It was great when you could dine at Bistro (sat next to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon one night during filming of The Grass Harp), then go to Kat N Harris for an after dinner drink. If you went for lunch, you could also shop at Nancy Blount.