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Pancheros is the latest chain coming to Jacksonville.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 9, 201712:00 PM EST

Pancheros Mexican Grill entering Jacksonville market

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Pancheros Mexican Grill, an Iowa-based chain, is entering the Jacksonville market with a location at Beach and Hodges boulevards.

It will be the first of at least three planned by franchisee Joe Logan.

“I have been here 18 months finding my first location,” he said. “My first location has to be a home run.”

The Beach and Hodges location is a busy corner of an active shopping area on the way to the Beaches. He hasn’t chosen the next two sites, which he wants to open within five years.

He hopes to open the first one in May, pending permits.

Ticon Inc. will renovate almost 2,800 square feet of space for Pancheros at 13423 Beach Blvd., Unit 104.

The fast-casual restaurant will seat 90, Logan said.

He also will share patio seating with neighbor Jersey Mike’s Subs.

Pancheros features freshly made tortillas it says are “structurally sound” and mixes the customer’s chosen ingredients before building and sealing the burrito, avoiding what the company says is “re-routing a big glob of guac to your chinos.”

Logan said there is a Pancheros in Jupiter and the Jacksonville location will be the second in the state.

At Beach and Hodges, it will join at least three other restaurants at the site where GFS Marketplace intended to develop a store: Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pita Pit and Your Pie.

The GFS store wasn’t built and the developer sold the property to AD Development LLC of Jacksonville Beach. AD Development has put up two structures, totaling 14,400 square feet on the roughly 2-acre site.

Lechonera El Coqui coming to Cedar Hills

Owners of Lechonera El Coqui, with one location in Fernandina Beach, are preparing to open at 3620 Blanding Blvd. in the Cedar Hills area of West Jacksonville.

Harold Santana said he and his wife hope to open in May or June. They are seeking a zoning exception to serve alcohol at the full-service restaurant.

Santana said the 180-seat restaurant will serve Puerto Rican food.

The location also will have event space that can accommodate another 300 people, he said.

A Jacksonville resident, Santana said they looked for a location in the city at the beginning but, unable to find a suitable one, opened in Fernandina.

There, customers from Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala and Ponte Vedra Beach asked when a second location would open.

Driving in the Cedar Hills area one day, Santana said he saw a former Chinese buffet restaurant was available.

Ameliaisland.com called the Downtown Fernandina restaurant “a Puerto Rican taste explosion” that features authentic, family-style Puerto Rican cuisine including pulled pork sandwiches, codfish fritters, flan, turnovers and seafood.

Private dining at Cowford Chophouse

As the Cowford Chophouse takes shape at Ocean and Bay streets Downtown, owners also are preparing for interior work.

The city is reviewing plans for a private dining-room addition at the 101 E. Bay St. project. The 1,600-square-foot space is shown on the second floor of the almost 9,400-square-foot building.

Danis Construction LLC is the contractor for the Cowford Chophouse project, including the $220,000 build-out for the private dining area.

When completed, the Cowford Chophouse will feature a two-story dining room and a rooftop terrace bar and lounge.

Design Cooperative LLC is the architect.

There’s no opening date yet, but construction is on track for completion this summer.

Cowford Chophouse is part of the independent Forking Amazing Restaurants group based in Jacksonville, which also includes Ovinte, Bistro Aix and Il Desco.

Work beginning on Mandarin Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s was approved for the start of renovations in Mandarin.

The city OK’d shell and facade work for the popular grocery store at 11112 San Jose Blvd. in the Claire Lane Shopping Center.

Trader Joe’s said in late January it will open its second area location, leasing about 13,700 square feet. The Monrovia, Calif.-based chain opened in October 2014 at the South Beach Regional shopping center in Jacksonville Beach.

Target Contractors Inc. will handle the $387,400 job at the Mandarin site, which includes loading dock modifications and mechanical, engineering and plumbing work.

The store build-out would be permitted separately.

Trader Joe’s said it would open in the second half of the year, but did not specify beyond that. It declined to say how many employees it will hire or how many work at the Jacksonville Beach store.

La Nopalera to open near Avenues

La Nopalera seeks a zoning exception to sell alcohol at a restaurant it wants to open at Avenues South at 11035 Philips Highway.

The site formerly was a furniture store.

Jose Valencia, an owner, said the property owners wanted a restaurant there. “They gave us a really good deal on the lease, so we decided to move forward,” he said.

The location is near car dealerships, which could translate into a strong lunch business, he said.

La Nopalera Avenues Inc. seeks the exception in conjunction with opening a full-service restaurant.

Plans show a 164-seat restaurant and a bar, although seating isn’t finalized. Valencia said it could open 90 days after permitting and approvals.

La Nopalera Mexican Restaurants’ website said it has nine locations: six in Northeast Florida, two in Georgia and one in South Carolina.

Valencia also intends to open one in Bartram Park. Plans are in for permitting for La Nopalera to renovate part of the former Daruma Japanese Steakhouse at 12640 Bartram Park Blvd. That also would open 90 days after approvals.

Food note

• Zoës Kitchen expects to open its Mandarin location at 10422 San Jose Blvd. in April and will hire about 30 employees. Zoës is renovating the former Cabana Grill.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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