Whiskey Jax Kitchen & Cocktails reopened March 16 at 725 Atlantic Blvd. in Atlantic Beach.
It relocated from 950 Marsh Landing Parkway in South Jacksonville Beach, where it closed in November.
The restaurant was known for its live music. Bands aren’t on the new menu yet, but in time they will return, said Tom Fisher, owner of the Atlantic Beach Whiskey Jax.
“We want to start with our regular menu and get that right. Then we’ll start adding higher-end dinner specials and then once we can execute those we will focus first on a Sunday brunch and then one on Saturday. We want to make it right,” Fisher said.
The restaurant opens daily at 4 p.m., closing as businesses dictates. Fisher said his goal is to have the kitchen open as late as 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight or later on weekends.
The new restaurant was able to keep a few former staffers among the 25 they have hired. Fisher credits Richard East, general manager, for recruiting a staff that he is familiar with from his work at Seven Bridges and Ragtime over the past dozen years.
When coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, Fisher lost several employees, especially in the kitchen. To remain open he placed a higher priority on music to attract customers. The new Atlantic Beach location gives him the opportunity to focus instead on food and drink.
The new location is smaller, seating 186 customers inside and outside under umbrella tables. The previous location could hold more than 200.
The new bar area is larger than the dining room.
The location previously was Firefly Bay and before that was the longtime home of North Beach Bistro. It was move-in ready after some cosmetic changes. A brick accent wall grew to become a dominant feature.
“I’ve learned a lot about bricklaying and building. You have to do that when you are restaurant owner,” Fisher said.
“When a restaurant sits a bit there are always some issues. We called in a plumber and we had to work on the AC. But those issues sorted themselves out.”
The Baymeadows and Jacksonville Beach Whiskey Jax Kitchen & Cocktails restaurants had been co-owned. After the November closing the partners split amicably, Fisher said. The Baymeadows location is open.
When entertainment returns, Fisher plans to start on the first Friday of each month with a deejay playing top 40 dance music from the 1980s to today.
“I’d like to see it become a place for adults to have a little dance party. A place for my wife and her friends to go,” Fisher said of the First Friday promotion.
“We’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t work, we’ll change it. That’s a good thing about being locally owned.”