Woodstock Reaches the Beaches
Imagine a breezy summer morning in Panama City Beach. You’re on the sand at sunrise, enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the shore. You reach for the signature Tikiccino you bought at the nearby tiki hut, and you know all’s right with the world. Ben Raney and Kelly Boyer, formerly of Woodstock, made that Tikiccino possible.
Get Your Beach On
Childhood best friends and 2020 Woodstock High graduates Ben Raney and Kelly Boyer took their entrepreneurial dreams to the beach of their childhood and opened Tiki Mike’s Exotic Tea and Coffee Bar in 2022. After a couple months shadowing their friends in the area who run their own shop, Kelly says he and Ben knew they could make their own, “With a twist.”
Both Ben and Kelly appreciate their community and the support they’ve received, especially from Ben’s mother, Lori Raney, owner of an interior design company in Georgia. Ben says she has been “an insane mentor” for the boys. “She definitely deserves more than just praise.” He says she helped them with their love for entrepreneurship throughout their teens and now. With support and their management experience, they have created a home for themselves and the locals in Panama City Beach, sharing exquisite drinks sprinkled with happiness.
Where Customers Are Friends
People from the Cherokee community have shown their support when they visit, as well. Some may count grabbing a bubble tea or dollar coffee from Tiki Mike’s as their favorite part of the day, but what is Ben and Kelly’s favorite part? Ben says that along with “setting up shop with the early morning dew, feeling peaceful, and being able to see the beach and the wind on the waves before it gets bright out,” his favorite is when the locals visit. “I don’t consider them customers. I see them as friends coming to hang out with me at work. They’re the heart and soul of this town.” (Sounds like a dream, right?)
Kelly says he strives to keep a family-friendly and mellow vibe and “give the younger kids around this area some inspiration to look up to,” like big brothers. The love is reciprocated as the locals have welcomed the young men into their community. Kelly smiles. “They even bring food for us sometimes.”
Kelly expresses, “Tiki Mike’s taught me more than what I would have learned in my first year in college. It was awesome. I wouldn’t change anything.”
A lot is at stake when building your own business, but Ben said they decided they “might as well take that chance now.” He didn’t realize how fulfilling and exciting Tiki Mike’s would be. “This work is constant,” he says, “I’m always doing something for the business, always thinking about it, and I love it.”
Leap of Faith
Working with your best friend may sound a little scary, but not for these two. Kelly states that they both wanted Tiki Mike’s to take off, so working together on issues was vital. “As long as we put in the struggle now, we’ll get to enjoy our dreams later.”
Ben adds that communication, spewing out the entire idea, and keeping each other up-to-date is key to preventing conflict.
Leaving home and stepping away from their norm to live a dream, or as Ben puts it, “risking comfort right now for style in the future,” is a true testimony to taking the leap and leaning on each other, according to Kelly. He urges others not to stress about life, but rather “Try new things, because you never know where it could take you.” He says that when he graduated from Woodstock High he wouldn’t have believed this would be his life, and now that he’s here, “It’s surreal.”
Ben never wants to look back and feel regret, noting, “It didn’t matter what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to be my own boss. With my work ethic, I knew I would be successful no matter what.” He encourages others, “Just keep your head down and improve your work ethic.”
The two entrepreneurs are excited to see how they’ll continue to grow and expand in the future and to show how far two young men from Woodstock can thrive on a dream by the sea.
The next time you’re in Panama City Beach, join Kelly for The Zombie (formerly known as The Kelly Boyer Special). He’ll surely be enjoying one himself as he “drinks one at least fifteen times a day.” The flavorful black-tea-based drink features raspberry, mango, peach, and orange. While Kelly prefers the drink fully caffeinated, a decaf option is also on the menu.
Or if you’re in the mood, snap up a Tikiccino, the duo’s twenty-four-ounce frozen signature shake. Try Kelly’s favorite flavors, the Grasshopper or Cookies & Cream.
Ben, however, prefers the refreshing Ocean Blue, a thirty-two-ounce exotic iced black tea with berry, lemon, and blue raspberry.
For dessert the guys recommend a Glizzy Bun Tikiccino because it tastes like you’re drinking a cinnamon roll. After you’re fully caffeinated, you can join the boys for basketball or football with the locals.
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Britni Treadway is a multi-talented artist, business owner and artist of PuppiMudworksCo, an Underwriting Assistant, and a lover of exploring as many creative outlets as she can. Britni made Woodstock her home in 2021 with her cat, Puppi, and also enjoys spending her free time reading books in cute coffeeshops.