By Annie Blanks | The Destin Log

There’s no other restaurant quite like McGuire’s.

With an estimated $1.3 million stapled to the walls and ceilings, servers dressed in formal Irish-themed attire and bathroom signs intentionally placed on the wrong doors, the Destin restaurant has made a name for itself amidst a sea of cookie-cutter seafood and big chain restaurants.

Dollar bills line the walls and cielings of McGuire's. An estimated $1.3 million has been stapled to the various spaces of the restaurant over its 20 years in business. ANNIE BLANKS/THE DESTIN LOG
Dollar bills line the walls and cielings of McGuire’s. An estimated $1.3 million has been stapled to the various spaces of the restaurant over its 20 years in business. ANNIE BLANKS/THE DESTIN LOG

“We’re like no other restaurant,” said Charlotte Ratikan, guest service manager. “You come in here from the outside and you’re in a completely different world.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that McGuire’s has managed to not only stay in business, but expand over the past 20 years. The restaurant opened in October 1996 and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend, with a packed schedule of entertainment, drink specials and revelry.

McGuire’s first came to Destin in October 1996, a sister restaurant to the flagship restaurant in Pensacola that opened in 1977. Since then, it has expanded three times to seat over 600 guests at once, added Vinny McGuire’s pizza and McGuire’s sushi and made a name for itself in the microbrewery industry.

General Manager Pat Grantello said the secret to staying in business for so long is taking care of the restaurant’s employees.

Brewers Tom Anderson, left, and Madison Roane took a bronze medal for their McGuire's Irish Stout in the 2004 World Beer Cup. FILE PHOTO/DAILY NEWS
Brewers Tom Anderson, left, and Madison Roane took a bronze medal for their McGuire’s Irish Stout in the 2004 World Beer Cup. FILE PHOTO/DAILY NEWS

“I can’t say enough about family,” Grantello said. “The Martin family (who owns McGuire’s) is a great family to work for, and it trickles down to us and our employees … it’s like having 200 plus family members working for you, and you have to be able to provide for their families.”

Grantello said McGuire’s is one of the largest off-season restaurant employers in Destin, with approximately 100 servers working this month.

Another way McGuire’s has stayed around for two decades is willingness to adapt to a growing Destin, according to Ratikan.

“From the get-go, when McGuire (Martin, the now semi-retired founder) started this business, it grew. The strength of this restaurant is that we change as we need, expand as we need,” she said.

Grantello added that seeing Destin grow up around the restaurant has been tough, but rewarding.

General Manager Pat Grantell kisses the moose. "Kissing the moose" is one of the rites of passage to get your "Official Irishman" card, along with signing a dollar bill and stapling it to the wall at McGuire's. ANNIE  BLANKS/ THE DESTIN LOG
General Manager Pat Grantell kisses the moose. “Kissing the moose” is one of the rites of passage to get your “Official Irishman” card, along with signing a dollar bill and stapling it to the wall at McGuire’s. ANNIE BLANKS/ THE DESTIN LOG

“We value this area because it’s such a beautiful place, and it’s become so commercialized,” she said. “But it’s good for the community and the people that live here, so it’s exciting to see it grow.”

The community that has largely embraced the restaurant has been a mixture of both tourists and locals. Ratikan said locals often recommend the restaurant to tourists, and tourists come back year after year.

“We are an important part of the community of Destin,” she said. “We hold a special place in this community. People like to gather here.”