Part of the vision for Laketown Wharf Resort is to provide every guest with a complete resort experience when visiting Panama City Beach. A restaurant was a natural piece of this puzzle and plans were started in 2016 to provide guests with tastes of our area seafood. Construction and design group, Pease and Associates, was chosen to bring the vision of the Wharf Local Seafood Buffet to reality. And what was developed is beyond everyone’s expectations. The Wharf Local Seafood Buffet is a nautical-themed place to dine the whole family will enjoy.
“Authenticity” was the key to making the Wharf a unique experience. Guests can see items from actual ships including light fixtures, portholes and nautical ropes for accents. The restaurant has floor to ceiling glass with great views of the Lake. Plus, you can enjoy dining outside along the 50,000 square foot boardwalk.
In May of 2017, Emerald View Resorts was able to get Animal Planet’s hit TV show “Tanked” to come to the property and film an epsiode. The show featured Panama City Beach, the resort and the Wharf Restaurant’s center piece – a 735 gallon saltwater aquarium standing over 9 feet tall. You can read more about the episode of Tanked here >
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After an award-winning stretch at Firefly and stints at Pompano Key and the Panama Country Club, Chef Paul Stellato was recruited to direct the menu at The Wharf Local Seafood Buffet. Chef Paul, who earned five Golden Spoon Awards during his time at Firefly, was a natural choice to bring a higher expectation to the world of buffets. The result? As Chef Paul says, “we let the recipes and food do the talking.”
Chef Paul has been in the Panama City area for over 30 years, but he got his start in the restaurant business at age 13 at Tony’s Pizza in Davie.
“I was a dishwasher and the owner said if you’ll go around and grab stuff, I’ll teach you how to cook,” said Chef Paul, whose bike often was parked at the restaurant when he was supposed to be at school. “The rest is history.”
A highlight from his illustrious career is when Chef Paul was one of the few American chefs chosen to travel to the 2012 Olympic Games in London to show off his honed skills and present Gulf Coast Seafood to Team USA.
Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Stellato moved to Northwest Florida and began working in a restaurant at the early age of 13. Stellato continued his culinary endeavors, eventually working his way to the executive chef position at Canopies in Panama City Beach. He has since been published in Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines and his culinary repertoire has even served many presidential and celebrity guests visiting the area, including President Obama.