(Originally posted on 12/5/2012.  Update:  Sweet Racks is now at Buster’s Beer & Bait on the 2nd and 4th Thursday and Friday of each month.)

It is with great sadness that I let you know that a wonderful little eatery, Sweet Racks, on Panama City Beach is closing on December 21. 

I had not had the chance to try them in my nearly 4 years here and had been wanting to give them a try since reading all of the wonderful reviews that I have seen on Urbanspoon, etc. 

We went last Thursday and it was the first I’d learned that they were going to be closing.  I was happy to have had the opportunity to check them out before they did.  

I was told to try the lumpia and, of course their famous ribs.  They were out of lumpia but that is OK.  I used to work with people who made it at home and brought it to work so I KNOW that I like it and will definitely try the ones that are offered at Sweet Racks one of these days soon.

I can assure you that this restaurant is not closing because they are a bad restaurant with lousy food or service.  Just like everything I had ever read, the owners are sweet people who take wonderful care of their customers while delivering on their promise of delicious, unique food choices at a very fair price.  

We had the smoked ribs with their signature sweet filipino influenced sauce as well as the smoked chicken and fried pork chop.  All very good!

The good news in all of this is that they not only gave fair warning of their closing date (which is Dec. 21st) so that it won’t be a surprise to us all, but they are not going away completely.  They plan to continue serving their food at festivals, including Friday Fest on the first Friday of most months (not the cold ones!) and any of the other locals festivals that they can.  I bet they would also be open to doing catered events so keep watching them.  They are not going away!  

The sad part is that many of the tourists who have come to enjoy Sweet Racks won’t have the opportunity anymore unless you manage to get to one of these events.  My hope is that the local economy will one day soon be more conducive to the success of small, mom and pop places that find it so tough to make it here on the beach.  We have a very limited season and it is tough but I am optimistic that it will change for the better.  And hopefully when that time comes, the owners will decide to open another restaurant on the beach!

One of the reason I started my second website and program, East Side Eateries, about a month ago was to help bring more awareness to these places.  I was seeing too many places closing, not for the season but for good.  It makes me sad even if I have never set foot in the place and don’t know the owners.  Why the East Side?  Because that is the area of the beach that seems to be more affected by the seasonality, where almost all of the restaurants are locally and independently owned and where it seems like more places are closing these days.  I still love (and eat on) the mid section and the West end, but the East Side is calling right now and I hope many of you, whether local or visitor, will join me.  Check out the site, the Facebook page and join the East Side Eateries club so that you can stay on top of all of the events, specials and fun stuff we put together!

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