After delays, City Grille & Raw Bar opening July 25

The upscale restaurant has a new look and menu while paying homage to the former Wine Cellar.

The City Grille & Raw Bar on the Downtown Southbank opens  July 25. The former Wine Cellar has a new look inside and out.
The City Grille & Raw Bar on the Downtown Southbank opens July 25. The former Wine Cellar has a new look inside and out.
Photo by Dan Macdonald
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After a few months delay, the City Grille & Raw Bar opens July 25 at 1314 Prudential Drive on the Downtown Southbank. 

It is in the former Wine Cellar restaurant which closed in October 2021 after 47 years in business.

The soft opening is reservations-only which will be taken July 20-22.

Owners John Nagy and Karen Belloit Thomas hoped to open the restaurant in March or April, but supply chain disruptions and the age of the building caused delays, they said. Property records show that the building was constructed in 1974.

The Garden Room can be used for private parties or corporate dinners. Otherwise, it is another dining option for guests.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

“When you are working with an older building, it seems every day you find something new,” said contractor Fabio Fasanelli, president of Fasanelli Construction Inc.

Fasanelli Construction built the couple’s restaurant, 11 South in Jacksonville Beach, as well as their former restaurant, 3 Palms Grille in Ponte Vedra Beach. That restaurant, which served The Yards golf and recreation facility, closed May 1.

There are plans to reopen 3 Palms Grille at another Beaches location when the City Grille and Raw Bar has established itself, Nagy said in April.

The construction budget for the 6,700-square-foot City Grille & Raw Bar was $600,000, Fasanelli said.

Guests are greeted with a long bar and high-top tables for an appetizer or beverage.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

Savings were found by subtly repurposing usable fixtures throughout the restaurant. A support beam, for example, was incorporated into the storage locker above the bar.

The building’s exterior is painted white with gold signage. The Wine Cellar’s elegant front door was incorporated into the new design.

Belloit Thomas and Shannon Hughes Design designed the interior.

Inside, guests will find the raw bar to the left and the Velvet Room, for customers waiting to be seated, on the right.

City Grille & Raw Bar staff members stand in front of the former Wine Cellar restaurant's wine rack in the Tuscan Room.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

The Velvet Room is blue with red carpeting and plush antique furniture. A chandelier illuminating the room helps create an upscale restaurant atmosphere.

Walking past the bar, Wine Cellar regulars will recognize the large wine rack that was a mainstay of the restaurant. 

A dining area is separated into private dining nooks with a wall with arched openings. The original glazed windows remain.

The Garden Room and Treehouse Room can be used for corporate or private dining events. It will be used as a regular dining space.

The Raw Bar at the entrance will feature an assortment of shellfish among its appetizers.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

The outdoor patio bar and dining area will be open when the weather is appropriate. It is built around a 300-year-old moss-draped oak tree. The area may be decorated with lights so that it can be seen from the entrance, Fasanelli said.

Nagy said in February that Chef Kevin Gaston from 11 South initially will be the executive chef. 

Craig Sammons, also of 11 South, will be the general manager. 

They will transition to corporate leadership to help Nagy and Belloit Thomas operate their two restaurants as well as future ventures.

A variety of shellfish and oysters will be rotated onto the menu, depending on availability. Appetizers will include tartar, crudo and seafood towers. Most appetizers cost between $15 and $19.

The Garden Room and the Treehouse Room offer views of the appointed patio and a 300-year-old oak tree.
Photo by Dan Macdonald

Entrees include scallops, halibut, salmon, chicken, lamb and pasta as well as steaks, including a 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye for $160. Sides are a la carte. Most main courses cost between $29 and $41. Steaks range from $38 to $62. 

In addition to the ribeye, specialty cuts include a 6-ounce Iberico Pork Secreto for $52 and a 6-ounce Japanese A5 Wagyu New York Strip for $120.

The restaurant’s regular lunch and dinner hours begin July 25. Lunch starts at 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Sunday brunch begins at 11 a.m. 

Visit for reservations and menu information.



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