Artwork on display inside the restaurant (Photo by Karen Brune Mathis)
Southern Grounds & Co. hopes to open Nov. 9 in Avondale.
It will be the Jacksonville-based coffee shop concept’s third location, and not the last.
Mark Janasik owns the Southern Grounds business while the properties of the first three locations – Neptune Beach, San Marco and Avondale – are owned by Edward Skinner Jones.
“They’re in old, established neighborhoods. They just fit in the community,” Jones said during a tour Oct. 29 of the Avondale location at 3562 St. Johns Ave.
The Angelo Group Inc. is the contractor for the 8,000-square-foot building in the Shoppes of Avondale. Group 4 Design Inc. is the architect.
“It’s a place for people to meet and gather,” said operating partner Aaron Helmer.
Consultant Chris Goodin, who is helping secure new locations for Southern Grounds, said the first two shops are considered meeting spaces.
“Avondale lends itself to being a community gathering space,” Jones said previously of the established neighborhood.
“People can walk here; they can ride their bikes. We felt like it was a good fit.”
The city issued a permit in April for Southern Grounds to build its Avondale coffee shop, restaurant, market and art gallery at a cost of $1 million.
Stellers Gallery, now in San Marco, announced Oct. 12 it will open a second location and will lease 600 square feet of space in the Southern Grounds building.
Southern Grounds will occupy the bulk of the building with 150 seats – 120 inside at tables, couches, a wine and beer bar and a private-dining area that can accommodate 20-25 people; and 30 people on the front patio.
Southern Grounds will operate a market for charcuterie meats and cheeses, wine and other goods between the main area and Stellers. Stellers has an exterior door onto St. Johns Avenue and an interior door into Southern Grounds.
Southern Grounds will showcase artwork by Holly and Heather Blanton and by Sean Dampier. It also will display pieces from Stellers Gallery.
The main restaurant area includes the point-of-sale area where cakes and pastries are available from Southern Grounds’ blueberry artisan bakery. The Avondale store also will make pastries in-house.
The Avondale menu will be similar to that at the San Marco location and also feature daily specials, with food made in-house from scratch.
It will employ 30-40 people.
Hours will be 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, possibly later on weekends, depending on business.
Janasik said the restaurant will have digital and seasonal menu boards. Customers also can download through a QR code or order on the website.
It’s also a place to connect digitally. Ample connections throughout the restaurant allow laptops, phones and other devices to remain powered up and plugged in.
Jones declined to provide the investment cost, but so far, it is reaching $2 million.
The Avondale property, with 18-foot ceilings, is new construction.
The city issued a permit in September 2019 for Realco Recycling Co. Inc. to raze the previous 7,200-square-foot building. Jones applied to the city Dec. 5 for a permit to build the one-story, 8,000-square-foot building on the site at a cost of $1 million.
Jones, who leads Avondale Sogro LLC, bought the structure in November 2018 for $763,000. It was developed in 1958.
Jones considered renovating the structure, then realized a more efficient space could be built.
Jones and Janasik opened the first Southern Grounds coffee shop at 200 First St. in Neptune Beach in February 2016 and the second at 1671 Atlantic Blvd. in the San Marco area in June 2018.
The first two Southern Grounds also serve beer and wine.
They feature breakfast, brunch, soups, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, tartines, protein grain bowls, charcuterie and cheese, children’s fare, seasonal items and beer and wine.
There also are pastries, breads, cakes and beignets as well as other food, shirts, hats, mugs, wholesale coffee, wine and food for sale to take out.
Jones describes the concept as a chef-driven coffee shop that serves food, beer and wine.
Southern Grounds carried the cakes and pastries from Biscuit and Buttercream and then bought it, renaming it “blueberry, an artisan bakery.” It set up production at Southern Grounds in San Marco.
That business also is expanding. Janasik said the bakery, at theblueberrybakery.com, signed a distribution agreement with Sysco to deliver baked goods from Daytona to Savannah to clients from country clubs to restaurants.
All three Southern Grounds locations also have outdoor patios. Jones said he will redo the San Marco patio with brick pavers, lights, bench seating areas and plants.
Janasik said previously Southern Grounds will pair a seasonal menu with its fresh-roasted coffee, which “is critical to what we do.”
“We feel we are expanding the idea of what a coffeehouse can be,” Janasik said.
He said Southern Grounds serves “simple, whole, unprocessed food from scratch.”
Janasik said the brand focuses on health and local and sustainable food while supporting vendors and farmers that focus on the environment.
He said the definition of healthy includes giving back to the community.
Southern Grounds partners with the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Teen Challenge, The Donna Foundation, Beaches Go Green and other organizations.
Goodin works with Jones and Janasik to find sites. They are looking in South Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Lakewood, downtown Fernandina Beach and other “walkable communities.”
Janasik also is working on Southern Grounds shops at Jacksonville International Airport and at The Hub Brooklyn near Downtown.
Janasik said Nov. 2 the airport project is a partnership and licensing agreement with HMS Host. Southern Grounds expects to be in Concourse A by June.
He is working on HUB Brooklyn with architects Clifford Duch and Joseph Cronk.
“Our plan is to expand not only the Southern Grounds brand to that area but to open a seasonally fresh restaurant concept as well,” he said.
He said his group is interviewing several local chefs to join the team for that concept.