by Erin Thursby
Following up on our commitment to the Go LO initiative, we’re encouraging folks to buy local, shop local and eat local. This month, our Go LO spotlight is on Murray Hill.
Those who live in the Murray Hill neighborhood are a diverse lot of all ages and a cross section of incomes and occupations. The houses reflect this, as do the businesses. The first house in Murray Hill was built in the late 1890s. It experienced a boom in the 20s. In fact, in March of 1928 at least one house was being built every two days. Upscale houses and small, affordable first houses make up the neighborhood.
Those who become involved in the community find that the area is tight knit, almost like a family. Part of that involvement is patronizing local stores. Says Sandy Polletta of Edgewood Bakery: “Shopping local not only supports your local economy and small businesses, but also creates family traditions and a stronger sense of community.”
Casual dining is what you’ll find in Murray Hill, whether it be take-out, sandwiches or diner-style food. The pizza at Moon River is popular, as is the soft-serve ice cream of the Dreamette.
Edgewood Bakery is among the neighborhood veterans, as it’s been part of the neighborhood for over 60 years. It has expanded from bakery to casual eatery, with menu items for lunch and tables. Besides the day-to-day cookies, breads and lunch items, they also keep busy with catering and custom cakes. There’s also a small gift shop area with various items, including colorful vintage-style aprons and hot sauce.
New to the Murray Hill ‘hood is Crazy Egg, which is where Dave’s Diner used to be. They serve breakfast all day (egg IS in the name). Some eggcelent sandwiches and other diner fare are on the menu. If you like that kind of thing, Crazy Egg might make your top ten list.
The Murray Hill Theatre has provided good, clean, rockin’ entertainment for over 15 years. Whether you go for the swing night or listen to a hard rock concert, you’ll find an alcohol-free venue with bands big time and local.
Talking to the business owners in Murray Hill, we learned that the best burger can be found at Perfect Rack, the local billiard hall. It’s one of the nicest pool halls in Jacksonville. The classic hole-in-wall for drinking is the Alibi.
Murray Hill is known for its reasonably priced furniture. With three home goods secondhand stores, Murray Hill is where the savvy shopper can pick up a quirky, not-quite-vintage chair or a heavy handed oil painting someone made in the 70s. You never know what you’re going to find. Besides their used furnishings, Robin’s sells discounted Italian leather couch floor models from pricey stores.
Besides these furniture stores, there are a variety of other types of businesses: from Faith Jewelers, a family-owned jewelry store that specializes in diamonds, to J&W Discount, which sells a hodgepodge of cheap items. Among the oldest businesses on the strip are the Edgewood Coin Shop, Flowers by Pat and Curry Thomas Hardware Store. They’ve remained open so long because of customer loyalty. Though there are chains with the same kind of products, “the difference is in the service,” says Pat Cyrus of Flowers by Pat. “At a neighborhood shop you aren’t just a number.”
But it’s not just good service that should keep you shopping local. “It is vitally important that we support our local merchants. These are the people that are interested in and will continue to invest in this area, keeping it vibrant and growing,” says Wayne Fanning of J & W Discount. These merchants have a vested interest in keeping the neighborhood strong, even campaigning to keep the Murray Hill Library open. By buying from local merchants we give people who are driven to improve and preserve a neighborhood the power to do so.