6 Impressive Restaurants Opening Downtown

Downtown Jacksonville is in the midst of a culinary boom. Here's six impressive restaurants that will be opening over the next few months.

Published November 16, 2015 in Dining & Nightlife - MetroJacksonville.com

1. Black Sheep Hemming Park

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Black Sheep partners Jon Insetta and Allan DeVault plan to extend their restaurant business to the downtown area. Black Sheep, originally known as “Chew” used to occupy a space downtown in early 2011. However, the timing wasn’t right, as the ‘dining crowd’ had yet to develop for said location, so they changed the name to “Black Sheep” and headed in to the Five Points area of Riverside in 2012.

Insetta and DeVault plan to open up a Black Sheep ‘kiosk’ close to Laura Street and near the east-end of Hemming Park. They believe that this sort of construction will appeal to a younger crowd and will be able to provide fast-casual service to local employees who might not have time for a full lunch break.  Black Sheep’s new location will feature a simpler menu with a lower price point, featuring between eight to ten different dishes that Insetta and DeVault hope to change as much as possible.

The kiosk is going to be constructed out of old cargo storage units that are being donated by local companies like Crowly Maritime Corporation and CSX. Black Sheep is expecting the kiosk to open in the early part of 2016, costing a total of approximately $150,000. Because of their kiosk design, Black Sheep will also have to build bathrooms, which will be one of the highest costs. Hemming Park is contributing about $85,000 to the project, with Black Sheep matching that sum.

In addition to the Hemming Park project, Black Sheep recently announced its intention to open a new downtown restaurant in the 100 North Laura Street building. Anticipated to open in spring 2016, the restaurant will initially only be open for lunch, featuring Black Sheep's fast-casual lunch service at the 5 Points location. Future plans call for expanding to dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For information and updates, visit: https://blacksheep5points.com/

2. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza

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Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, a Charlotte-based franchise, is expanding its business to Florida, with Jacksonville acting as its first site. The restaurant will be located on the first floor of 220 Riverside, occupying approximately 3,714 square-feet of space, including a 1,400 square-foot patio.

When Brixx decided to move to Jacksonville, they hired Franklin Street’s Carrie Smith and Kathy Figg to help bring the deal together. The Franklin Street team was used to help the Brixx brand get a better understanding of the area, understand the market, and scout a location. While Franklin Street helped the deal fall in to place, Juna Partners LLC is the franchise that represents the new Brixx, and Lora Ramsey,  is the principal representative.

The company signed a ten year lease for their new Brooklyn location, but they also hope to branch out far beyond that, with a model projecting over 30 Brixx restaurants to open across the Southeast. Their Brooklyn location is likely to open in the summer of 2016. They will feature a menu with high-quality food, wines, and craft beers.

For information and updates, visit: http://brixxpizza.com/

3.  Cowford Chop House

The old Bostwick Building (often reffered to as the ‘Jaguar Building’) off of Bay Street is being renovated for use by a new restaurant—Cowford Chop House. The Downtown Investment Authority gave Cowford Chop House a $500,000 grant, as well as a $250,000 loan, to help with the restoration and renovation costs for this once historic landmark.

Construction began in May of this year. Most of the interior has been demolished, while the brick exterior has been reinforced with supports. The iconic Jaguar mural was removed, but is intended to be reinstalled when the project is nearly completed. Cowford Chop House also intended to repurpose a lot of the building’s original lumber.

The restaurant is projected to open next summer if everything goes to plan.  The final product will be a 2 story restaurant, with a main dining room and a rooftop lounge.
For information and updates, visit: http://www.cowfordchophouse.com/

4. Folkfood

Ryan Reid, the owner of Folkfood, began his food truck operations a little more than a year or so ago.  A favored food truck in Jacksonville, recently Folkfood folded its food truck operations to open a permanent brick-and-mortar establishment near Hemming Park in downtown. Reid, who has a background as a chef, is just one of the many owners of Jacksonville food trucks whose popularity has brought them out of a truck, and in to a building. While Reid doesn’t intend to run both the restaurant, and the food truck, himself, he does hope to sell the truck operation to keep it going.

Folkfood is located where the old Skyway Café just vacated. While the Folkfood food truck, like most trucks, was only ever open for a few hours, this location is open for both lunch and dinner, from 11 AM until 7 PM, Monday through Saturday. The menu items have been carried over, and Reid is working to attain a liquor license so that Folkfood can serve all sorts of libations.

For information and updates, visit: https://www.facebook.com/folkfoodjax/

5. Hobnob Restaurant

Hobnob Restaurant is the conjoint effort of the partners behind another famous Downtown favorite—Candy Apple Café & Cocktails. Husband and wife, Allan and Ellen Cottrill, as well as Liz Ernest, and her daughter, imagine Hobnob as someplace to do exactly that. The restaurant will be themed around good food, social interaction, and interaction with the chefs themselves. Hobnob anticipates monthly events, such as a five-course, small plate dinner experience, as well as restaurant-wide champagne toasts every Friday afternoon.

Hobnob is one of three restaurants joining the space at 220 Riverside, with the hopes of creating a “trio” effect for a great dinner experience. The 4,560 square-foot restaurant is scheduled to open later this fall. It will employ nearly 70 people, with seating available for up to 200.

For information and updates, visit: https://www.facebook.com/HobnobJax/

6. Sbraga & Company

Sbraga & Company is another one of the restaurants joining the “trio” at 220 Riverside. This restaurant will be under the careful care of “Top Chef” winner Kevin Sbraga, who owns several restaurants around the Philadelphia area. This will be Sbraga’s first Florida eatery, but not his first time in Florida. Sbraga is a University of Miami graduate, and his grandmother was actually born right here, in the River City.

Sbraga has one major goal with the creation of his menu—to bring the focus back on crops. Sbraga & Company is a southern-inspired, but Sbraga doesn’t want people to simplify the idea to “soul food.” Instead, he has dedicated nearly 50% of the menu to crops and grains. There will be fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs used in all dishes and drinks, a wood fire grill to cook up meat off the hearth, house-made breads, and a raw bar. Versatility in the menu will also allow Sbraga to illustrate modern American culinary techniques.

This is Sbraga & Company's first week of business.

For information and updates, visit: https://www.sbragadining.com/

Article by Kristen Pickrell.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-nov-6-impressive-restaurants-opening-downtown

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