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Mexico Beach approves new business plans while continuing to rebuild

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:12 PM CST
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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Mexico Beach has been making strides to rebuild ever since Hurricane Michael hit in 2018.

“It’s slow. Hurricane Michael took it’s toll on our town and our business community and it’s just going to take a while,” Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said.

The city has close to 200 open building permits for residential construction, and about eight businesses are either starting construction or just shy of opening. One of those being the Shell Shack.

“It totally wiped us out. We had to start from the floor and work up,” Shell Shack co-owner Theresa Hunter said.

Hunter said having to rebuild wasn’t easy.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience and I never want to do it again,” she continued.

The family-owned shop opened first back in 1965. Hunter says the tough process of re-building was well worth it.

“It means a lot. It means getting back to normal finally and being able to start over and seeing all of our friends and customers again,” Hunter explained.

But Mexico Beach is doing more than just rebuilding. Officials have also been reviewing changes in business use requests. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, two new changes were approved, including a former restaurant on 40th Street now shifting into a souvenir shop and a clothing store on Highway 98 turning into an ice-cream shop.

“To get mom and pop businesses to come back here, they’re sort of the backbone of our little town so we need those folks to feel comfortable, feel best in our community. And that’s exciting to me,” Mayor Cathey explained.

Mayor Al Cathey said even though they have a long way to go, Mexico Beach is moving in the right direction.

“It’s good to see our town. It’s good to see the heartbeat of our city,” Cathey continued.

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