By Suzy Kridner
ORMOND BEACH -- The Beach Bucket thinks of itself as "the locals' secret little piece of paradise."
So do its customers, who won't be happy that we're divulging one of the beachside's best kept secrets.
But Managing Partner Edee Dalke is ready for the secret to come out. Everyone should be able to enjoy the restaurant, its attentive service, its wonderful food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and its scenic oceanfront location. It's all just too good not to share.
You can "kick back, relax and enjoy watching or listening to the ocean's waves and watch surfers while eating breakfast, lunch or dinner," states its website, and there's no argument there.
Ms. Dalke said the spectacular swells at the Harvard Beach approach attract surfers and spectators who enjoy watching them.
She's starting a T-shirt line, Surf Harvard, and has added fire pits for ambiance.
Customers share the fire pits, she said, and soon they are having interesting discussions with people they just met.
The Blue Crab Benedict is one of their best breakfast sellers and my dining companions agreed after she insisted they try it (I'm allergic to crab).
I thoroughly enjoyed my eggs over easy cooked just right with crisp bacon and sausage, while another in our group had a wonderful Country Club Omelet, with turkey, bacon and tomato, substituting Swiss for the American cheese.
Ms. Dalke, who spent a year crewing on sailboats before being hired at the Beach Bucket a year ago by owner Scott Studner, has run in four marathons and 10 half marathons. She also spent 26 years in advertising sales.
While on the sailboat, she wrote a blog, "Changing Courses," and is writing a book about her travels.
"I had an amazing adventure," she said.
After graduating from Kansas State University in journalism, Ms. Dalke said she had two requirements, live near an ocean and work in the media.
"One of my favorite things about working here is the awesome staff," said the former Kansas truck stop waitress.
She's got new promotions, such as BFF Night from 5:30 to 8:30 Wednesdays, which she bills as "a time to hang with your girlfriends," not a ladies night.
There are $3 martini specials and $10 bottles of wine, as it is "whine wine Wednesdays," she said.
Upcoming is a Gnarley Charley surf contest in June, and a bike parade in October, yep with decorated bicycles. Last year, she said, 50 bikes and riders in costumes participated.
As a runner, Ms. Dalke is aware of good nutrition.
The Beach Bucket's chef, Peter Vrochopoulos, has a special menu for the Ormond Beach Mayor's Health and Fitness Challenge that's underway through April 6. The dishes were created by the cooks in a contest.
On April 7, the second annual Beach Bucket Kiwanis' Fun Run starts at noon at the restaurant.
The special dishes include shrimp and grits, made with low-fat milk, drizzled with Cheddar cheese sauce and topped with plump shrimp. I can attest to its great flavors, even with only 190 calories.
Ms. Dalke said their customers like the laid-back atmosphere and good food.
Just ask Merv Burch, a surfer who's been coming from Gainesville to his house in Ormond Beach and enjoying the Beach Bucket. As he ordered fish tacos, he said he recently took a job with Caton-Hosey Insurance in Port Orange so he can be closer to the beach.
The Beach Bucket, 867 S. Atlantic Ave., Ormond Beach, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. It's behind Ocean East Resort and Rip Tides Restaurant at the Harvard Street Beach Approach. Information: (386) 677-8111 Ext.277, or firstname.lastname@example.org.