PERDIDO KEY, Fla. (WKRG) – The Flora-Bama is a popular destination for locals and visitors ready to soak in this laidback lifestyle, but when it’s time to head out, you might have trouble finding a ride home.
“We really, really do appreciate the Ubers and the Lyfts and any ride-share services,” said Jenifer Parnell from the Flora-Bama, “but it has been historically difficult.”
Jenifer Parnell, marketing director at the Flora-Bama, tells us the lack of rideshare drivers in Perdido Key is something she wants to see improve. She says a lot of customers rely on these services after spending a day at the beach, but even with thousands of people here on a typical summer day, there’s just not enough help.
“I know that that system operates off a map, so for us our geographic location sometimes is difficult. It might be pulling drivers from too far away in Pensacola or too far to the other side in Alabama depending on where the customer is standing, so I think there could be some improvements in that portion of that app,” said Parnell.
It’s not the only thing lacking along the coast as this once-quiet community keeps growing, but improvements are slowly being made.
Since Perdido Key is unincorporated there’s no dedicated police department covering this 16-mile stretch east of Orange Beach. But, since 2021 deputies are able to respond to emergency calls a lot quicker.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputies are increasing patrols here now that the south precinct has reopened.
Escambia Co. Sheriff Chip Simmons has reopened this precinct north of the Perdido Key Bridge where 8 deputies are now assigned to the area. It was closed for several years under the prior administration. He says the added presence is paying off.
I looked at over the last year the most common complaint is a battery complaint, like a fight,” said Simmons. “There may be some tourists out there and a fight breaks out and we go out there for the fight.”
Sheriff Simmons says if deputies aren’t already in Perdido Key when dispatched they’re not far away, especially during the busy, summer months. He tells us they’re also getting to know residents and business owners while on patrol.
“I wanted the deputies to work over there to know the uniqueness of the area, know the people in that area, know the unique rules in that area and have a better relationship with the area itself,” said Simmons.
The differences are noticeable on both sides of the line, even when it comes to the price of alcohol. Distilled spirit taxes in Alabama are $21.69/gallon vs. $6.50/gallon in Florida.
“A customer can come over to our liquor store. It’s going to be cheaper than when you purchase it in Alabama,” said Parnell. “We also have the lottery.”
And that’s another reason a lot of folks come to Perdido Key from Baldwin County, hoping to cash in on the lottery. Alabama is just one of 5 U.S. states without a lottery and that brings a lot of business across the state line.