Safe Harbor Seafood plans new Mayport restaurant
Safe Harbor Seafood plans to open a new and larger restaurant by summer, in partnership with veteran local restaurateurs Ben and Liza Groshell, next door to its 4378 Ocean St. location in Mayport.
Chris Wooten, son-in-law of property owner Gerald Pack, said Wednesday he and the Groshells will renovate Monty's Marina into a restaurant similar to the three the Groshells operate.
The Groshells operate Marker 32, Palm Valley Fish Camp and North Beach Fish Camp, all along or near water, and are planning for the Julington Creek Fish Camp at the closed restaurant at Julington Creek in Mandarin. The Safe Harbor venture, which has not been named, would be their fifth.
Safe Harbor's waterfront location, in operation for a decade, continues as a fish market, Wooten said.
The Safe Harbor Seafood Facebook page has posted information. "We are posting this message again due to the many inquiries about the status of our restaurant. The architect and builder have been working on plans that should be finalized any day. Construction will start immediately after," it says.
"Monty's Marina will be the site of Safe Harbor's new restaurant," it says, explaining it is "coming soon."
"Please continue to shop at our fresh fish market," it adds.
Wooten said Wednesday the restaurant within the waterfront Safe Harbor market has been leased by two sets of restaurateurs, including Sid and Linda Camacho the past seven years.
Wooten said the Camachos' departure coincided with the end of the gambling ship that operated at the Monty's Marina site, also controlled by Pack. Pack is the president of Miss Becky Seafood Inc., which owns at least 7 acres of Mayport-area property.
Jacksorbettercasino.com has a post that the Jacks or Better Casino ship has stopped service at Mayport.
"Jacks or Better Casino is suspending operations indefinitely due to the purchase of the new ship hitting some snags. We will update you if anything changes. We wish to thank all of our loyal guests for their support over the past two years and wish you all peace and prosperity in the future."
Linda Camacho said she and Sid will open a market and restaurant in mid-March at the shopping center anchored by BJ's Wholesale Club at Atlantic and Kernan boulevards.
Sid & Linda's Seafood Market & Restaurant Inc. will lease about 1,800 square feet of space at 12220 Atlantic Blvd., No. 109. The restaurant will seat about 40 people among 12 tables, taking up half the space, while the seafood market will take up the remainder, she said.
Wooten said he has known Ben Groshell since both were 13 years old and competitively surfing. He said Groshell told him in 1999 that if any part of the waterfront opened up for a restaurant, he'd be interested.
Over the holidays, "Sid and Linda decided to do their own thing; the gambling ship left; it all came together in 72 hours," Wooten said.
Wooten said when the Camachos left, he decided there wasn't enough space in the market to operate a restaurant, which had become so popular it "was overwhelming."
Wooten said the new location next door provides space for a restaurant, more parking and a seven-day-a-week dining operation, which wasn't the case at the market.
Market hours are posted as 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday. That left the restaurant closed Sundays, Mondays and evenings.
"We are making a bigger restaurant, with much more parking, and the fish market will have more flow," he said.
Wooten said the parking capacity will be about 1,000 spaces, including a lot next to the U.S. Coast Guard station.
The restaurant, which has yet to be named, can operate for lunch and dinner, seven days a week, with a waterfront view in Mayport that Wooten said is "breathtaking."
Wooten said the waterfront Safe Harbor market and restaurant began as a block building that sold bait, but soon outgrew itself.
He said he has been working with Pack for 23 years and is the buyer for the market. He will be in charge of the Safe Harbor Seafood market and a partner in the restaurant.
Pack remains the landlord.
Wooten said the details of the investment cost and seating capacity for the new restaurant are not finalized.