EAT UP JAX: Expansions Slated for Metro Diner, Engine 15, The Hyatt, and Bojangles

GastroFest 2018 happened last month at the beautiful Friendship Fountain in partnership with the Museum of Science & History! This year’s Judge’s Choice winners are: Candy Apple Cafe, Jax Diner, Sliders, Bread & Board, Black Sheep at Intuition, German Schnitzel Haus, Bold City Mobile Kitchen, Sunshine Grindz, Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen, Khloe’s Kitchen, and Orsay.

The Hyatt has announced that they will be adding three restaurant concepts to open by late summer. There’s been lots of updates to their lobby, mainly because of Hurricane Irma, but they will also have a 24-hour market, a tavern, and a seafood restaurant. The market will feature Starbucks products, take-away sandwiches, breakfast foods and other products, but the SHOR Seafood Grill will be a sit-down restaurant kind of deal.

Metro Diner

Our beloved Metro Diner has now expanded far beyond its home here in Jacksonville, opening its 50th locale in Sarasota. They plan to open more than 35 more locations in 13 states this year. You can already find a taste of Jacksonville in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia!

Another slice of home making its way to other parts of the country– Engine 15 Brewing Company is going to be opening a beer garden in Connecticut! Dockside Waterfront Bier Garden & Brewery will operate under an Engine 15 license, with 30 taps and 4,200 square feet total for the kitchen and the bar. A small menu will be offered, but the focus will be, as it says on the tin, waterfront-served beer!

You’re going to be seeing a lot more of Bojangles in our area soon. The franchise plans to open many more in the Northeast Florida region. The first, to be in St. Augustine, is where they’ll be trying out a prototype concept. It will feature Bojangles’ newest restaurant design–think contemporary steel and brick–along with a “Biscuit Theater” so you can witness biscuits being made fresh, free Wi-Fi, and charging stations for your various devices. Northeast Florida has long been a testing ground for restaurants to test new concepts (remember that oh-so-brief period when Pizza Hut was known as THE HUT?) to see if they will sink or swim nationally.

Speaking of sinking or swimming, Jacksonville now has a new way to party– Kraken Cycleboats brings its pedal boat party tour to the St. Johns, where passengers pedal while sitting at a bar on a boat. Tours are two hours, $35 per person weekdays and $39 on weekends. Passengers must be 21 or older. They don’t provide any food or beverage, but they do allow alcohol on the boat, and you can bring your own food in. Go to to book a tour!

Chef Josh Agan

Coop 303 Southern Bistro and Spirits is expected to have a mid-summer opening. The extensive build-out has been going as planned, and they expect to hire about 200 people. It’s an exciting new concept from the owner of Al’s Pizza and Flying Iguana, at 303 Atlantic Blvd. Cuisine will be Southern inspired, with a modern twist. We will keep you updated on their opening!


Saturday, April 7 Jamma Jax Opening 2-7pm
A new food truck, Jamma Jax, serving Asian-style food, will be celebrating their grand opening at 4260 Herschel Street on April 7th, at J William Culinary with live music from Caribe Groove.

Saturday, April 14 Oyster Jam 11am-8pm
Oyster Jam lands at The Jacksonville Landing. Come hang out for a day of oysters, beer & live music.

Saturday, April 28 Food Truck Wars 4-10pm
40 Gourmet Food Trucks compete for five awards. Celebrity judges, live music, huge kids’ area & beer garden. Free Admission. The Jacksonville Landing

April 29 The 22nd Annual Taste of St. Augustine Festival
This event has grown to be the city’s premiere outdoor food festival, featuring exciting “tastes” from over 20 of St. Augustine’s famous restaurants. A live music festival all day, special children’s area, and a culinary marketplace add to the fun and excitement. Location: St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340C A1A South, St. Augustine, 32080. For more information, visit

About Erin Thursby