As part of the citywide celebration of the 450th anniversary of the arrival of French explorer Jean Ribault at Mayport, area restaurants are offering special menu items and promotions through May 6.
Downtown’s part of the festivities began Wednesday at Olio Market on East Bay Street, when samples of the restaurant’s duck grilled cheese sandwich were served and a proclamation from Mayor Alvin Brown was read to make it official.
Also taking part in the Gallic gastronomical event Downtown are Adams Street Deli, Chamblin’s Uptown Café, Juliette’s Bistro at the Omni Hotel, the Wine Cellar and Zodiac Bar & Grill.
Olio owner and chef Greg DeSanto is baking French apple tarts for the next week to complement the sandwich, which is a finalist for the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America” award.
For the complete list of participating restaurants, see visitjacksonville.com/french-week.
City Council member Denise Lee, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Hemming Plaza, directed committee and Council member Bill Gulliford Wednesday to chair a subcommittee that will finalize specifications for a Request for Information seeking a private operator for the plaza.
The committee has been meeting regularly since September and is charged with determining how to make the park at the front door of City Hall more attractive to more users.
At its April 18 meeting, Lee recommended drafting a formal Request for Proposals, but after hearing advice Wednesday from City Assistant General Counsel John Germany, it was determined that the first step to an RFP would be gathering information from individuals or groups who could eventually respond to an RFP.
Germany said responders to the RFI could offer ideas that could eventually be incorporated into a formal RFP issued by the City’s Procurement Department and then evaluated for approval by the mayor’s office.
Gulliford said he has been impressed by the “high level of interest” in improving the park among business owners and residents. He said he could support having the space managed and programmed by a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving Downtown and the park.
“It’s paramount that some type of organization be created,” he said.
Lee named subcommittee members: Kelley Boree, director of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department; Karen Nasrallah, Jacksonville Economic Development Commission redevelopment manager; Emily Lisska, executive director of the Jacksonville Historical Society; Marcelle Polednik, Museum of Contemporary Art director; Jim Bailey, publisher of the Financial News & Daily Record; Jerry Moran, La Cena Ristorante owner; and representatives from the Jacksonville Public Library, Office of General Counsel and the mayor’s office.
Gulliford said he would schedule a public meeting of the subcommittee at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Suite 425 at City Hall.
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