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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, May 15, 201312:00 PM EST

Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille targets Jacksonville for 5-8 locations

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The 37th Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille opened Tuesday on Long Island and the Maryland-based chain of casual-dining sports bars envisions up to 150 restaurants within five years along the U.S. East Coast, including five to eight in metropolitan Jacksonville.

Tom Finn, vice president of franchising, said Tuesday he would visit Jacksonville in mid-June in the company's search for a franchise developer.

The name is not to be confused with the Green Turtle Tavern in Fernandina Beach or the legendary Joe Adeeb's Green Turtle restaurant that once held court among local dining establishments.

The Long Island Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille is one of a 10-unit development by a new franchise group and is the first Greene Turtle outside of the Mid-Atlantic region, Finn said.

The chain is based in Edgewater, Md.

In a couple of weeks, Finn said he heads to Central Florida and later to Jacksonville. He expects the Florida market could accommodate up to 40 Greene Turtles.

He's familiar with the area. His mother lives in St. Augustine Shores.

He said Jacksonville is one of the most dynamic marketplaces in the state and the Southeast.

"We are very interested in it and we are looking for strong strategic franchise groups to develop the marketplace," he said.

Finn said the Greene Turtle restaurants are 6,500 to 8,000 square feet and some are being developed in restaurant sites vacated by the former tenant or owner.

Greene Turtle restaurants seat 225-275 customers and offer outside seating as well. Each location employs about 100 people.

The menu lists soups and salads, appetizers, burgers, entrees, sandwiches, wraps, gourmet tacos, desserts, and meals for children. Prices on the menu for Chesapeake, Va., ranged from $8.99-$11.99 for burgers and $9.99 to $17.99 for entrees.

The "all-in" investment is $1.5 million to $2 million per restaurant, most of which is financed, according to the company.

"This is not your everyday franchise," Finn said. "We are looking for people who have the financial means and ability to fund multiple projects. Equal to that or even more important, we are looking for groups with the ability to develop and operate, on a long term, multiple units."

He said Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, the southern Florida Gulf Coast and the Miami area represent development areas in the state. He said there could be three to five operators in Florida.

Finn said the Greene Turtle retail sites vary. Many are traditional end-caps in regional strip centers. There now are "a lot of conversions," he said, including a former steak house and a pizza restaurant.

One opened in March in a former Ruby Tuesday in Maryland.

He said some free-standing restaurants have been built in Maryland.

Competitors include Chili's, Applebee's, Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters, as well as local bars and restaurants.

"One of the strategic advantages that we believe we have is a very broad demographic appeal," he said.

"You will see every kind of person in a Greene Turtle — seniors having dinner, young families, young groups. It appeals to a very broad demographic," he said, adding that he doesn't believe some of the competitors can say the same.

"We have a very heavy emphasis on sports," he said, with 55-65 TVs in each bar and grill.

Each booth has a TV and there are large-screen TVs around the restaurant and bar so that "no matter where you sit, you can look up and see a sports program."

Finn said the Greene Turtle restaurants comprise a family-friendly dining restaurant and a sports bar.

In choosing a location, Greene Turtle looks for a dense and diverse population, sports fans and business people so that there is a daytime mix with lunch and happy hour.

"We like being where a lot of restaurant activity is," he said.

Finn said Greene Turtle would like to have a Jacksonville franchisee identified and in place within a year and to open the first restaurant within 14-18 months.

Of the 37 restaurants, 13 are company-owned, three are owned by the three founders and the remaining 21 are owned by franchisees.

The website, thegreeneturtle.com, shows 36 locations are open and 29 are in development. The site did not reflect the opening of the latest location.

"We are not looking to slay the world at this point," Finn said. The Greene Turtle executives would like to be able to reach the markets within a couple of hours of drive or flight time "so we can support our franchisees."

Finn said the economy was improving for Greene Turtle's market. He said some of the casual dining concepts have built-out over the past five years and some have fallen out.

The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille opened its first restaurant in 1976 in Ocean City, Md., and has expanded in Maryland and into Delaware, Virginia, New York and Washington, D.C.

The company said that in January 2013, it again made Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 listing of top opportunities. Franchise opportunities are handled through The Greene Turtle Franchising Corp., whose majority stakeholder is JPB Capital Partners, a Columbia, Md.-based private equity partner for lower- to middle-market companies.

Web.com expansion space approved

The City approved renovations for the Web.com project to use 17,094 square feet of space in Flagler Center at 12854 Kenan Drive, No. 100. C. Harrison Construction Inc. is the contractor for the $504,081 project.

As reported, Web.com Group Inc. announced in January 2012 that it would create 200 additional jobs at its Southside Jacksonville headquarters in Flagler Center, adding to the 450-job workforce it had at the time.

Web.com sells services to small businesses to build and run their websites, social media and other Internet services.

Early this month, Web.com Chairman, President and CEO David Brown said employment has grown to 780 and he expects to add another 100 jobs by year-end.

That means the company will have basically doubled in size in the two years since the January 2012 announcement.

Web.com employs 2,200 people in 16 offices, and Brown said after the company's annual meeting May 8 he expects to add 60 to 80 jobs outside of Jacksonville.

The company has grown with the acquisitions of competitors Register.com in 2010 and Network Solutions in 2011. Those deals helped increase revenue from about $100 million a year to $500 million.

With the increase in jobs, Web.com has outgrown its 112,306-square-foot headquarters building at 12808 Gran Bay Parkway W. Brown said about 120 employees had to be put into conference rooms because there was no other space.

Because of that, Web.com took the lease for 17,094 square feet of additional space at the nearby 12854 Kenan Drive building. Once that space is built out, Web.com will move those employees out of the conference rooms and into regular cubicles.

The building-permit application shows the space will include offices, conference space, training and vending on the ground floor of a two-story building.

Brown said the company has an option to take another 18,000 square feet in that building as growth continues. "We fully expect to take that space," he said.

LUSH pending at The Avenues mall

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, which is expected to open in June in St. Johns Town Center, is progressing with plans to open at The Avenues mall, a sister center.

A pending building permit shows LUSH plans a $100,000 build-out of an almost 1,500-square-foot store at The Avenues, at 10300 Southside Blvd. The store location is in space 1550 near the mall center. No contractor was listed on the application.

LUSH already is building out about 1,500 square feet of space at St. Johns Town Center at a project cost of $102,543. TDS Construction Inc. is the contractor.

As reported in March, the lushusa.com site reported that LUSH began in the 1970s in England when Mark Constantine, a trained trichologist, who studies the health of hair and scalp, and Liz Weir, a beauty therapist, met in a hair and beauty salon in Poole, England. They began creating products at home with natural ingredients for the hair and skin.

The site says that in the early 1980s they developed products for The Body Shop and became a supplier. The agreement prevented them from opening another retail shop for five years, so they set up a mail-order cosmetics company called Cosmetics-To-Go, which eventually was sold.

The two and several others from Cosmetics-To-Go spent money on fresh fruits and vegetables and created and sold products in a shop. Mark Constantine created the fragrances.

In a customer contest, the name LUSH was chosen. That was 1995.

According to the site, on a 1996 trip to England, Canadians Mark and Karen Wolverton visited the LUSH shop and decided to open the first international store in Vancouver.

In 2003, the first American store opened in San Francisco and the company now has more than 150 shops in North America, all supplied by two cosmetic kitchens in Canada.

The website shows 12 Florida locations, including the two "coming soon" at the town center and The Avenues. One of the 12 is at a Macy's store in North Palm Beach.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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