Flora-Bama prepares to turn 50 years old

PENSACOLA, Ala. (WALA) – Just say the name “Flora-Bama” and chances are most people will know it instantly.

“You know, you have a lot of other places, like you said, but I don’t know. Just the Flora-Bama…just the name, it’s a staple,” Ashley O’Donley, a New Orleans resident, said.

The famous liquor store turned honky-tonk bar, restaurant and, as of three years ago, church, has endured on the Florida-Alabama state line for 50 years.

”This place has always been blessed, there’s something magical about it. But you know its location geographically, you get a lot of characters through here from all different walks of life, from all over the place,” Co-owner John McInnis said.

When partner Joe Gilchrist got a hold of the Flora-Bama in 1978, he decided to convert the liquor store into a bar.

“And when people would come into the package store to buy a six-pack of beer, Joe would grab them and take them back to listen to a guy playing country music. And another guy would walk in and he’d take them back there. And before you knew it, you had a bunch of people hanging out,” McInnis said.

Over the years, the bar expanded into what we know today, using fun, annual events like the Polar Plunge and the Mullet Toss to attract people from all over the world.

“It’s just one of those things you have to do when you’re down here. The Flora-Bama is a must to visit, whether you’ve never been here or you’ve been here a million times. You’re never going to go wrong. You’re always going to have a good time. And it’s kind of shameful not to experience it when you’re here,” Tucker Groves, a Birmingham resident said.

“A lot’s changed in 50 years, but a lot’s still the same. We want to make the Flora-Bama better without changing it at all,” McInnis said.

And McInnis adds that it’s the mantra of no judgment and staying true to who they are that will give this coastal bar another 50 years straddling that state line.

If you would like to attend the Flora-Bama’s 50th Anniversary celebration, click here for more information.

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