Taste Food Studio opening Jan. 30 in Tinseltown
Taste Food Studio owners are renovating the former Urban Flats Restaurant & Wine Bar in Tinseltown and intend to open their global cuisine restaurant to the public Jan. 30 after about a week of special events and a soft opening.
J.R. Vance and Chris Dallo are the operating partners in Taste Food Studio, which is under renovation at 9726 Touchton Road, Suite 105. It will employ more than 100 people.
Vance and Dallo were on-site Monday with carpenters, artists, the executive chef and sous chef and others transforming the 6,000-square-foot space, plus a 2,560-square-foot patio, into a restaurant that will seat about 200 diners inside and about 150 outside.
The venue also has a private room that can accommodate up to about 80 people, Vance said.
The restaurant's Facebook page describes Taste Food Studio:
"Casually elegant, high end, higher quality, all scratch made food," the page says.
"Combining upscale food with a TASTEfully new twist on Global Cuisine, and American favorites along with a full bar serving intricate specialty cocktails, and an extensive array of wines and beers from all around the world," it says.
The tastefoodstudio.com website posts a menu with dips, soups and salads, starters, "small taste," flats, burgers and sandwiches, pasta and risotto, and "big taste."
Examples of the eight starters are baked brie, crab-stuffed mushrooms, fried tequenos and honey-glazed wings.
The 11 small-taste items include mac and cheese plain or with bacon or lobster; shrimp and sea scallop duo; mussels diablo; and beef short ribs.
Among the 15 big-taste menu items are fish tacos, shrimp and grits, cedar-planked salmon, bourbon-glazed pork chops and filet mignon.
Joelevi Jackson, who has worked with The Cheesecake Factory, is the executive chef. Anquineta Plazz is the sous chef. Both have Facebook pages that illustrate their culinary experience.
A Dec. 19 post on the Taste Food Studio Facebook page said: "Chef continues to shock and amaze us with his creations in the TASTE kitchen. 'Lobster Pasta Carbonara' Pancetta, Green Peas and a Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce served over Linguini Pasta. Deeeeeeeelicious."
Vance and Dallo declined to estimate the investment costs of the renovations and setup. Dallo said the biggest change is renovating the business to include a full kitchen. Urban Flats didn't need that amount of equipment, he said.
Vance said Taste Food Studio will feature local artists and musicians, including "spot performances," such as artists creating sketches on the spot.
Taste Food Studio will display and sell local art, he said.
Vance said the restaurant also will serve drinks and signature martinis, but its focus is on food.
Vance, 32, and Dallo, 37, have restaurant and nightclub experience. Vance's experience includes having worked with Suite Jacksonville the past three years. Dallo said he has opened three nightclubs and three restaurants in eight years.
Taste Food Studio will serve lunch and dinner Monday-Friday and stay open later. Thursday-Saturday. Vance said Sunday brunch will start in February.
Home prices on the rise
The CoreLogic research firm reported Tuesday that home prices, including distressed sales, rose 2.9 percent in November in Jacksonville compared to November 2011. Month to month, prices rose 0.1 percent.
Excluding distressed sales, prices over the year and over the month rose 0.1 percent in November.
Merrill Road Waffle House planned
Plans were filed with the City for a Waffle House at 7652 Merrill Road, at Merrill Road and Wedgefield Boulevard. The wafflehouse.com website shows at least eight Waffle House restaurants in Duval County.