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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 17, 202207:40 PM EST

Florida Cracker Kitchen locations rebranding in Jacksonville

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The San Marco site will become a seafood restaurant and bar while the San Pablo diner will be Orange Blossoms Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch.
by: Dan Macdonald Staff Writer

The Florida Cracker Kitchen at 1842 Kings Ave. in San Marco is no more.

After lunch service June 17, it began transitioning into a fast-casual seafood restaurant with a bar, Corner Lot said in a news release.

The new restaurant name was not provided in the June 17 release.

Corner Lot, a Jacksonville-based real estate firm, and Heartfelt Hospitality Group, which operated the Florida Cracker Kitchen, own the property.

“We are close. We have a couple solutions. But definitely, San Marco will be in the name,” said Travis Norman, owner of Heartfelt Hospitality.

As of 5 p.m. June 17, the restaurant’s Facebook page made no mention of the closing or transition into another concept.

The new business will serve lunch and dinner.

Norman said the interior and exterior will be redesigned into a fresh and different look. He did not provide renovation cost estimates.

He expects the new restaurant will open in 45 to 60 days.

Brothers Blair and Ethan Hensley in Brooksville started Florida Cracker Kitchen, which specializes in Florida country-style cooking.

Corner Lot and Heartfelt Hospitality are no longer affiliated with the Florida Cracker Kitchen, Norman said.

He said the split was amicable. “We are extremely close with the Hensley brothers,” Norman said.

He said tight employment made it difficult to prepare the Florida Cracker Kitchen menu.

“From a staffing perspective we had to readjust the menu and they didn’t want us to go away from their concept. We can’t hire enough people to facilitate their concept.”

The Florida Cracker Kitchen at 14329 Beach Blvd. at San Pablo Road remains open and is being rebranded as Orange Blossoms Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch.

There are no plans to close it while the interior redesign is taking place. The name change will take effect by June 27, Norman said.

Heartfelt Hospitality also will rebrand the Florida Cracker Kitchen location in Keystone Heights as Orange Blossoms Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch.

“The new menu will be something that we can facilitate,” Norman said.

The new San Marco concept will specialize in locally caught seafood provided primarily by C&C Fisheries of Mayport. Local produce also will be emphasized.

Trey Hartinger, who owns Cast Iron Grit, a catering and restaurant consulting company, is working with the owners to develop the menu. He is a former executive chef at Marker 32 and Blackfly Cafe.

“I’ll be involved in the flow of the food – what it looks like and tastes like,” Hartinger said.

He does not expect to be the permanent chef.

“Chef Trey is passionate about utilizing products that are locally and regionally sourced to not only have the freshest ingredients but also to support local farmers and vendors,” Norman said in the release.

The San Marco Florida Cracker Kitchen served breakfast and lunch. It opened in May 2020 in the former Wimpee Fuel Oil Building.

It opened to serve the neighborhood and Downtown workers and residents.

Norman cited the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and remote working for affecting the company’s business plan.

“We were banking on the 70,000-plus people who used to come into Downtown. Now there are no office dwellers coming into Downtown. We thought the rebound would be stronger. Lunch was going to be a strong draw,” Norman said.

“Corner Lot and Heartfelt Hospitality Group are vested in San Marco and are committed to making the site successful for the community,” the release said.

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