#EATUPJAX: Restaurant Openings, Closings, and New Locations in the Local Jacksonville Food Scene, JaxMinerva
JaxMinerva is replacing India Restaurant on Baymeadows

#EATUPJAX: Restaurant Openings, Closings, and New Locations in the Local Jacksonville Food Scene

Long-time Italian chef and restaurant owner Jerry Moran recently did a good deed for a dying man. His New York-style cheesecake has many fans, and when a customer learned that a terminal man in Baptist Hospital asked for NY cheesecake, they asked Moran if he could help. Moran hand-delivered the cheesecake to the hospital. His restaurant, La Cena, was located Downtown for many years but made the move to Murray Hill on Edgewood Avenue, a couple of years ago.

San Marco Square, Photo by Jill Cruz
San Marco Square showing Taverna and the empty space next door that will become Izakaya, Photo by Jill Cruz

The owners of Taverna in San Marco are making use of the space next door, which used to be Pure Barre, by converting into a secondary restaurant space, this time with an Asian cuisine flair. The separate space will be called Izakaya. They begin the buildout this month to convert the space from retail to restaurant, and they expect to be open by Spring of 2020, if not sooner. We will keep you updated!  

 Matthew’s restaurant in San Marco has had a facelift, reopening after a week of renovations last month. So, if you haven’t been in a while, come by and experience their new swankiness!

 Chomp Chomp on Herschel Street in Avondale, a favorite of many local foodies, closed this past Summer. We can’t wait to see what Ian Chase will do next. He still owns The Fox in the Shoppes of Avondale, an awesome and classic breakfast/lunch spot.

#EATUPJAX: Restaurant Openings, Closings, and New Locations in the Local Jacksonville Food Scene, Derby House Diner, Derby Benedict (with Lox!)
Derby House Diner’s Derby Benedict (with Lox!)

Derby on Park has changed ownership a few times recently and is now going by Derby House Diner. The most recent owners are Chad Munsey and Michael Schmidt, also owners of San Marco’s The Bearded Pig BBQ restaurant. The place got some more menu and decor changes, with a new Exec Chef who has experience from Candy Apple Cafe and MLG, Dustin Wigglesworth. The menu now skews more modern, so if you’re expecting the same old–don’t–well, not entirely. Expect trendy deviled eggs, some fab salads, and a good mix of surf and turf. Ultimately, a New American menu that’s decently priced (entrees mostly under $20), lots of gluten-free selections, along with some diner-type fare and sandwiches that the old Derby was known for.

Aria Cuisine
Aria Cuisine

New to Baymeadows is Aria Cuisine, serving Persian and Iranian food. 

We just lost India Restaurant, so it’s good to know that another new Indian place has come to Baymeadows. JaxMinerva has a buffet with vegetarian options, along with menu entrees and appetizers. 

Want something new to you? Try some Peruvian fare at Empanada Llama at 9965 San Jose Boulevard. And yes, there are empanadas. 


 Burrito Gallery opened another location near St. Johns Town Center in Gateway Village this summer. Expect the same sort of menu as their other three locations in Jax, with a full bar.

You might have a wait at Catullo’s Italian at 1650-2 San Pablo Road South, but we hear it’s worth waiting for.

We’ve got lots of Beaches news for #EatUpJax this month! Some newbies moving in, and a few old-timers moving out. Slated hotels coming onto beach-front property have also shaken things up. Pier Cantina in Jax Beach has closed, basically so that a Springhill Suites hotel can be built later this year. It was a favorite locally for Taco Tuesdays, a decent bar, and a killer view of the Beach.

We told you about ABBQ opening in Atlantic Beach a few months ago, and we’re happy to report that their Texas-style barbecue has been well-received. You can find them at 461 Atlantic Boulevard in Atlantic Beach. 

Jacksonville’s The Local plans to open a location in Neptune Beach, in the former 7-Eleven next to Starbucks at the Beaches Town Center. It’s an English pub-style where you can get a good beer, and a variety of food from seafood to stick-to-your-ribs meals.

#EATUPJAX: Restaurant Openings, Closings, and New Locations in the Local Jacksonville Food Scene, Skratch Kitchen Mimosa Bar
Skratch Kitchen Mimosa Bar

In Jax Beach, Skratch Kitchen Mimosa Bar is set to take over the old space at Jimmy Hula’s on Beach Boulevard. Not much is known, except that there will be mimosas.  

Campeche Bay Cantina in Jax Beach closed in August, but the building has already been snapped up by a real-estate developer, and, if you’re looking for a space to open a new restaurant, the space is ready to rent. 

 Kenny Gilbert just opened up a new place at 501 South 8th Street in Fernandina, Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, which will focus on Southern seafood, other Southern cuisine, plus local craft beers

In national news celeb Chef Mario Batali no longer owns a stake in Eataly, the Italian marketplaces he was the face for, ending the relationship officially, though he hadn’t had direct involvement with the brand since 2017. That was the year he allegedly groped and kissed a guest while intoxicated. The hearing on the matter was ongoing as of the end of August, and a number of women came forward with similar stories. Since the allegations, The Food Network had also canceled plans to relaunch the TV show he starred in, “Molto Mario.” 

Moon Over the Market at the Jacksonville Farmers Market

November is two months away, but we thought we’d give you a heads up on Moon Over the Market on November 14th at the Jacksonville Farmers Market 6-8:30 pm. The annual ticketed tasting event is put on by GastroJax, the organization that puts on GastroFest. You can find it by searching Moon Over the Market on 904tix.com. It’s a splendid way to taste some of the best Jacksonville has to offer from a variety of food vendors and genres. If you’ve a prodigious appetite, you can also get samples from the student competition portion of the event, where ProStart Culinary students are mentored by area chefs. So far, the lineup includes Thai food from the swanky restaurant Blue Orchid, Vucca’s for some Italian-American out of a new food truck, food using Front Porch Pickings produce and farm bag contents, some soul food from the Jazzy’s and Celestia’s Coastal Cuisine from venerated Jacksonville soul food Chef Celestia Mobley, Floribama barbeque from the delicious Rite On QUE, Asian street food from the truck Jammas Jax, Pie95 Pizza which is a favorite that people ask about every year, the beloved local chain of Bono’s Barbecue and Catering, the Datil B Good food truck with a St. Augustine flavor, and Blue Bamboo’s hip Asian cooking from the award-winning Chef Dennis Chan. There will likely be more news to share in future, but ticket prices will be just $25 if you get your tickets before October at 904tix.com. Tickets are generally $40 per person.

About Erin Thursby