It's a go: Black Sheep gets OK for Downtown location

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 12:00 p.m. November 16, 2015
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
The floor plan for the new Black Sheep restaurant, along Forsyth Street Downtown at The Jacksonville Bank building.
The floor plan for the new Black Sheep restaurant, along Forsyth Street Downtown at The Jacksonville Bank building.
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Jon Insetta can’t wait to once again stand over a stove Downtown.

That was the Black Sheep 5 Points owner and chef’s reaction Friday when the Downtown Investment Authority approved a $102,000 forgivable loan with a five-year term.

Insetta and his Black Sheep partner, Allan DeVault, will use the grant to cover part of the $686,000 investment to build out the former Midtown Deli along the Forsyth Street side of The Jacksonville Bank building.

The restaurant group will pay $375,000 of the investment and the landlord, Farah & Farah, will pick up the rest.

“I could open somewhere else, but Allan and I want to come back Downtown,” Insetta said. The Black Sheep restaurant in Five Points will remain open.

Insetta admitted he learned some valuable lessons when he operated Chew, his first Downtown culinary venture. It closed in January 2012 after five years of serving lunch along Adams Street in the space now occupied by Pho A Noodle Bar.

“We had a lot of critical success with Chew, but not much business success,” Insetta said. “Now we have a realistic understanding of the challenges Downtown.”

After closing Chew, Insetta developed his French-themed restaurant, Orsay, in Avondale before opening Black Sheep in Five Points.

The plan for Black Sheep Downtown will be carried out in phases. Insetta said he’ll begin with lunch service Monday through Friday with sandwiches and salads at a $9 price point.

The next phase will add dinner service Thursday through Saturday with lunch menu items plus entrees in the $10-$25 price range. Weekend brunch is scheduled to be offered before the end of the first year of operation.

The business plan submitted with the grant application shows Black Sheep 5 Points does about $75,000 a year in takeout business during lunch. DeVault said more than 25 percent of those sales come from people who work and live Downtown.

Under the terms of the Retail Enhancement Grant program, Black Sheep’s Downtown location must be open within six months of executing the agreement and loan contract with the authority. A six-month extension, creating a 12-month deadline, is possible under the terms of the agreement.

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