Post 20 Restaurant Opens In Niceville As Team Recovers From Tragedy

In Brief:

  • Niceville’s Post 20 sushi restaurant held its soft opening, honoring the memory of late co-owner ‘Sushi Mike’ Ledford with heartfelt tributes and a mural by local artist Emily Little.
  • Co-owner Justin Trotter expressed bittersweet emotions as the restaurant, a long-time dream, opened without Mike, aiming to become a beloved local spot.
  • Dylan Deschaine, charged with second-degree murder in Mike’s death, remains in custody, with the next court date set for June 10th.

The music bumped in as a couple of dozen people enjoyed small plates of hibachi-style chicken and beef – small wooden boats filled to their railings with sushi sailed through the crowd. 

 

Niceville’s newest sushi restaurant, Post 20, had its soft opening night Sunday – without its captain, ‘Sushi Mike’ Ledford.

 

Ledford died after a February altercation in Niceville. Niceville Police arrested a single man concerning the incident – The District 1 State Attorney has charged the man with second-degree murder. 

 

He may be gone, but reminders of him crowd the walls. From photos to art and other souvenirs, the building seems like a shrine to his memory. 

 

As the restaurant’s Itamae (sushi masters) carve up fish, avocados, and more to serve to friends and close family – Post 20 Co-owner Justin Trotter moves to the cutting boards behind the counter to help out. 

 

“We wanted to open this restaurant together,” Trotter said with a bittersweet look on his face as he gazed around the busy building – filled with people he loves, “We’ve wanted this for a long time – we wanted to do this for 20 years. And finally, we go to,” Trotter said, “I’m just trying to keep my emotions together. [I’m] try[ing] not to cry in front of everybody. [Seeing everyone here] makes me happy.”

 

Despite his sorrow, Trotter believes he and Mike have made it to the opening night of their restaurant together. He hopes the spot on Bayshore will end up like the TV show Cheers – a place for locals who love the area. “I think [Mike] would be more than happy,” Trotter added. “You know, it was the last thing we talked about doing – we finally got it done. It’s the one thing we always wanted to do. We used to eat ramen noodles on the ground, broke so we could do this. I want to keep his legacy going with me. I don’t want people to forget about Michael.” 

 

Off The Wall

Across from where the sushi is made in the little restaurant, the wall explodes with color. Robust reds contrast with a slightly off-white – all behind a colossal octopus that dominates the wall.

 

Niceville artist Emily Little painted the wall after Mike’s passing and says the mural – her most intricate yet – means so much to her. “Mike reached out about doing a statement piece on the wall for his restaurant,” Little Remembered, “It’s very bittersweet, obviouslySomething coming from such a tragedy to where it is now.”

 

She hopes the monumental mural – more than 20 feet wide – will represent Mike for many years. “Mike was larger than life. Like the mural, he was eccentric,” Little said “I hope people come in to look at it and they just think it is really cool.”

Opening up 

According to the new location’s ownership, Post 20 will open for the first time to the public on Tuesday, May 22nd, from 4 to 9 PM. 

 

As they work out the bugs and figure out what works and what doesn’t for the restaurant, they will adjust their schedule. For now, though, Post 20 will open from 4-9 Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 4-10 on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Criminal Disposition of Dylan Deschaine

The man accused of killing Mike Ledford, 24-year-old Dylan Deschaine, continues to be held in the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview without bond. 

 

Prosecutors also charged Deschaine with battery on a law enforcement officer. 

 

Deschaine’s next court date will take place on June 10th in Fort Walton Beach in front of the Honorable Terry Ketchel. 

 

Deschaine was compelled to undergo mental evaluation at his last court date in April.

 

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.  

 

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