Go LO Avondale

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 Avondale.
One of Jacksonville’s most desirable neighborhoods, historic Avondale is lined with trees and beautiful houses. Even though Avondale is its own area, it’s often mentioned along with the adjacent Riverside since the boundaries are a bit indistinct for many residents of Jacksonville. It’s generally accepted that Avondale is contained by the St, Johns River and Roosevelt Boulevard, but the Eastern boarder is often contended and has stretched since it was a development in the 1920s.

Shop Local
You’ll find Avondale’s retail stores along St. Johns Street. Gift shops, jewelry, home-goods, clothes and more can be found amongst the pedestrian-friendly Shoppes of Avondale.
While there are some very upmarket stores, there are affordable gifts in shops such as Gottahaveit and Cowford Traders. You’ll also find exclusive brands and unique items in the Avondale Gift Boutique and jewelry at Underwood’s. For the cook or gourmet in your life, you might want to stop in at one of Avondale’s newest stores– Green Man Gourmet. You can also pick up something sweet from Let Them Eat Cake’s bakery.
Anita Adams of Let Them Eat Cake believes it’s better for Jacksonville to shop local because “it brings back more to the city” and “you get more personalized services and unique items.” It all comes down to the quality and customization that comes out of not being corporatized. “We can fill special orders to match the customer’s needs. Our cakes have more flavor because we use real ingredients like butter. We don’t need all the stabilizers and fillers they do to keep things on the shelves. It’s just better quality,” says Adams.
Besides the pet supply and grooming stores (such as All About the Dog, Fabulous Fido and Vanity Furs) you’ll find that many of the merchants in Avondale are dog friendly and you’ll find doggie watering bowls outside some of the shops.
For the owner of All About the Dog, Kevin Nichols, having a business in Avondale means having “huge community support.” Like many of the shopkeepers, he also lives in the neighborhood. “I love Avondale. Shopping, dinner, nightlife—it has it all,” says Nichols.
Local Activities
One of the most popular activities in the Riverside and Avondale district is e2ride tours. While bike riding, you’ll get a tour and stories of the area. They can provide the bikes so you don’t have to figure out a way to get them there if you don’t have a rack on your car.
Walking, jogging and taking the kids to Boone Park are just a few of ways Avondale residents enjoy the neighborhood greenery. Avondale Artworks’ exhibitions feature local artists. On June 3rd there will be a joint exhibition of the works of Beth Haizlip and MACTRUQUE.
The sense of community in Avondale and Riverside is strong. The Riverside Avondale Preservation Society works to keep historic buildings in good repair and connects people to events like the Luminaria, The Spring Home Tour and the Riverside Arts Market. The JTA provides trolley service to: FSCJ Kent Campus; Dancy St. & St Johns Ave.; Margaret St. & Oak St.; Post St. & May St.; Riverside Ave. & Rosselle St.; Riverside Ave & Stonewall St. and to the Jacksonville Landing.
Eat & Drink Local
The West Inn aka Monty’s no longer serves food, but the neighborhood hangout still has a bar and they allow smoking. The Brick serves food, but it’s a watering hole during games, though it has a more upscale feel than a run-of-the-mill sports bar. For late-night noms, hookah smoke and belly dancing, you can go to the Casbah. If it’s a classy drink you’re wanting, there’s Elevated Avondale, located on top of the restaurant Blue Fish. You can also imbibe at one of two bars inside Orsay.
Mojo barbecue has opened a new location on St. Johns Street, Mojo No. 4 the menu varies from their other locations and the full bar has some very lively concoctions. For something more trendy, try the small plates at ‘town, which supports the farm-to-table movement. Biscotti’s is also a favorite, with excellent desserts. For eggs scrambled or fried, The Fox cannot be beat and have been a breakfast-brunch favorite for years.
Further down St. Johns Avenue, toward Hershel, there are some eateries away from the Shoppes, like Ruan Thai for yummy Thai and Espetos, where you can have your own personal meat parade, as Brazilian gauchos bring you spears of beef. There’s also the classic Avondale sandwich shop, The Goal Post.
When you spend at a locally owned store, bar, eatery or entertainment venue, you support the local economy because a larger percentage of the money you spent stays in Jacksonville. More than that, you support the very businesses that make a neighborhood unique. So the next time you need some retail therapy, go to Avondale and Go LO Jacksonville!
Avondale Resources