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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 18, 201904:47 AM EST

Florida Cracker Kitchen construction approved in San Marco

Country fried steak and eggs, smoked mullet dip coming to 1842 Kings Ave.

The city issued a permit Thursday for River City Construction Group LLC to convert a San Marco area service garage into Jacksonville’s second Florida Cracker Kitchen.

The former service garage at 1842 Kings Ave. will be converted into Florida Cracker Kitchen.

River City is converting the 6,000-square-foot building at 1842 Kings Ave. at a job cost of $230,000.

The former “Wimpee Fuel Oil” structure was built in 1937.

Brothers Blair and Ethan Hensley hope to open the restaurant by early 2020. That would be two years after they started their first Jacksonville location at northwest Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road.

Blair Hensley said in July he has the Wimpee Fuel Oil sign and intends to post it to remind San Marco residents of the past.

Florida Cracker Kitchen is open 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday serving breakfast and lunch, focusing on Southern comfort food.

The menu includes country fried steak and eggs, smoked mullet dip, Okeechobee gumbo and oyster po’boys.

“It’s San Marco. It’s a unique part of Jacksonville. We think our concept will do very well there,” Blair Hensley said in July.

He said it is close to Downtown employers and the historic San Marco neighborhood. It’s central to the larger San Marco area where hundreds of apartments are under construction and more are planned.

“That whole area is starting to thrive,” he said.

Duval County records show CLDG Kings Commercial LLC, led by owners of Corner Lot Development Group, bought the site in June 2018 for $1 million.

Corner Lot CEO Andy Allen said in July that Florida Cracker Kitchen will lease the building.

A rendering of the Florida Cracker Kitchen at 1842 Kings Ave.

“When we purchased this property a little over a year ago, we thought, what will be an amenity for San Marco?” Allen said.

That, he said, is a restaurant with parking. Hensley said there are 80 spaces.

Allen said the building is in good shape from a previous tenant.

The adaptive reuse of the structure mirrors what Florida Cracker Kitchen did at its first Jacksonville location in Pablo Station at 14329 Beach Blvd. Florida Cracker converted a former tire store into a 4,000-square-foot restaurant.

The area’s first Florida Cracker Kitchen opened at 14329 Beach Blvd.

Hensley said the San Marco location will employ 30-40 people and seat 90-100 customers. The Beach Boulevard restaurant has a similar number of employees and seats about 110-120, he said.

The San Marco building will comprise a kitchen and dining area, taproom, patio seating, and space for the sale of Florida Cracker Trading Co. merchandise.

Hensley said it also will have the Bloody Mary bar on Sundays at the front patio.

Florida Cracker Kitchen is based in Brooksville. Florida Cracker has locations in Keystone Heights, Brooksville and Jacksonville.

A Florida Cracker, the menu explains, is a state pioneer, mainly a farmer or cattle rancher, who searched the swamps to round up cows with the aid of cattle dogs and with whips that cracked.

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