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From left, Sam Kassab, his wife, Rola Kassab, and his brother, Tony Kassab, want to resume furniture imports at Mary's Wholesale Furniture.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 22, 201412:00 PM EST

Kassabs buy Mary's Wholesale Furniture


A well-known established Westside business, Mary’s Wholesale Furniture, changed hands last week and the new owners said Thursday they will do what Mary Combs did and also resume more importing.

“We’re going to do the same thing Mary has been doing,” said Sam Kassab, who bought the business with his wife, Rola, and brother, Tony.

Kassab Wholesale Furniture Inc. bought the business at 5062 W. Beaver St.

“Mary’s known for having those pieces nobody else had,” Sam Kassab said.

The Kassabs, who own other retail businesses and real estate, said they would resume importing furniture and add more chandeliers and rugs. They intend to make improvements to the 16,000-square-foot store.

They said Combs remains as a consultant.

The Kassabs were customers of the store. Sam Kassab said Tony Kassab “came in to buy a sofa and ended up buying the business.” They’ve been working on the deal about two months, they said.

The Kassabs said they will import from the Philippines, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Egypt. Customers also can order “anything they see” on the Internet, from magazines or elsewhere, said the Kassabs, saying they work with 75 manufacturers.

They said they also would sell wholesale.

Improvements should start within 60-90 days, they said.

The business, 5 miles west of Downtown, operates 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The Kassabs said after the improvements, hours probably will change to 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and possibly 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

The store offers furniture, artwork, lamps, clocks, centerpieces, rugs, chandeliers, curio display cabinets and other furnishings.

A description on says Mary’s Wholesale Furniture has been family-owned and operated for more than 25 years.

State corporate records show that Mary’s Oriental Imports Inc. was registered with the state in 1996 by Mary Combs. Its name changed to Mary’s Imports Inc. and it does business as Mary’s Wholesale Furniture.

By 2000, it operated at 597 Edgewood Ave. S. It expanded there before moving about a mile north to the current location. The new address was reflected in a January 2007 corporate filing.

Duval County Clerk of Court records posted Thursday show Kassab Wholesale Furniture bought the property Aug. 13 for $500,000 from Mary and Phillip Combs as co-trustees of the Combs Family Revocable Trust.

Records reflect that the Combs Trust issued a $375,000 mortgage and Mary’s Imports issued a $375,000 second mortgage to Kassab Wholesale Furniture.

Kassab Wholesale Furniture Inc. was filed with the state Aug. 4. Salim “Sam” Kassab is president and a director; Antoun “Tony” Kassab is vice president and a director; and Rola Kassab is secretary, treasurer and a director.

Kitchen on San Marco to open next spring

San Marco’s new Kitchen on San Marco restaurant should open in early spring, the project owner announced Thursday.

“I could not be more thrilled about the grand opening of our new restaurant, Kitchen on San Marco,” said Randy Mueller, group president of Education Corporation of America, in a news release.

Education Corporation of America is the parent company of Virginia College in Jacksonville, which owns and will operate Kitchen on San Marco.

Kitchen on San Marco, at 1402 San Marco Blvd., will serve lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch. It will feature dining, private dining and booths as well as a bar. The dining areas should seat 125 to 130 patrons, and the bar will add another 15 seats.

The company said the restaurant’s menu will consist of “fresh, contemporary American food,” which will be served in small plates or bowls or as larger traditional entrées. It said whenever possible, locally sourced ingredients will be used “to provide patrons with the fresh, bright flavors of the region while providing the healthiest, highest-quality foods at an affordable price.”

It also will offer an extensive selection of fine wines, the release said.

The news release said about $600,000 is expected to be spent on the 4,533-square-foot full-service restaurant.

Kitchen on San Marco will be modeled after Kitchen on George, the Culinard restaurant in Mobile, Ala. Education Corporation of America said Kitchen on George recently was voted “Best Chef,” “Best First Date Place,” “Best Restaurant Wine List,” “Best Happy Hour Bar,” “Perfect Martini” and “Best Bartenderess” in Lagniappe magazine’s 2014 Nappie Awards.

Kitchen on San Marco supports Culinard, The Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Jacksonville, where a staff of professional chefs provide a learning lab and teaching establishment for culinary and pastry arts students, said the release.

“This allows students to gain real-world experience while working as externs at Kitchen on San Marco,” it said.

P&C Construction Inc. will combine four suites at the former pizza-burger location at 1402 San Marco Blvd. into one to create Kitchen on San Marco. The site is at San Marco Boulevard and Children’s Way.

Jacksonville RaceWay part of portfolio for sale

NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC announced Thursday it has been retained by RaceWay to coordinate the sale of 17 convenience stores with gasoline, including the store at 8405 Beach Blvd.

The portfolio includes four locations in Georgia, three each in Alabama and Florida, two each in Kentucky and Tennessee and one each in Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A news release from NRC in Chicago said the lots are no longer a fit for RaceWay’s business model. They range in size from about 22,600 square feet to 3.9 acres, while store sizes range from 700 square feet to 4,600 square feet.

The release said 16 of the sites being offered are fee-owned properties, and the remaining site is leasehold. All sites are being sold without convenience store or fuel branding. Sites are also being sold without fuel supply.

“This sale provides a great opportunity for operators already in these markets as well as those looking to enter them. They may be of particular interest to jobbers since the sites are being sold without fuel supply,” said Dennis Ruben, executive managing director of NRC, in the release.

“And, given the large parcel sizes, this creates a unique opportunity for a real estate play as well.”

NRC’s website shows the 3,040-square-foot Beach Boulevard store opened in 1989 and sits on 1.12 acres.

A complete list of the properties and information regarding submitting offers is available online at

Diocese to break ground on Newman housing

Bishop Felipe J. Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine and officials with the Dallas-based Newman Student Housing Fund will ceremonially break ground next week for a new faith-based, student housing community near the University of North Florida campus.

The event is 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesday at the Catholic Student Center at 11277 Alumni Way.

The diocese and Newman Student Housing are working together to provide apartment units for students of all faiths who want the option to live in an environment aligned with faith-based principles and moral values, said a news release from the diocese.

“Renewing God in the lives of young adults is vital in today’s society,” said Estévez. “The new student housing community will provide them a place where they’ll live spiritual as well as academic lives.”

Construction will begin in September for the multiphase project and is expected to be completed next fall.

The first phase will include a 204-bed, three-story housing facility that will provide 69 apartment units for students and three residential-assistant units. The second phase will add 158 beds.

The Newman Student Housing community will join the Catholic Student Center owned by the diocese on the same property. The diocese bought the former Jacksonville Fireman’s Credit Union in 2013 for use as a Campus Ministry Student Center.

The Diocese of St. Augustine plans to renovate the interior of the existing Catholic Student Center structure, adding a 576-square foot chapel that will seat 60 people, the release said.

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