Flying Fish Taphouse owner to rebuild, reopen Clark’s Fish Camp

Jim Franks has experience reviving restaurants that have seen better days.

The entrance to Clark’s Fish Camp and Seafood Restaurant in 2018.
The entrance to Clark’s Fish Camp and Seafood Restaurant in 2018.
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Clark’s Fish Camp and Seafood Restaurant is going to be rebuilt.

New owner Jim Franks is president of QBS Inc., an Ohio-based construction firm. He also owns Flying Fish Taphouse at 1341 Airport Road.

He is aware it will be a major undertaking. The project is expected to take well over a year to complete, he said.

“We’re probably gonna have to tear down about two-thirds of it and bring it up out of the water to get it within the proper flood stage. Because there’s really no other way to do it,” Franks said.

Parts of the building are two feet below the flood plain, he said.

The building at 12903 Hood Road is on the bank of Julington Creek. It is prone to flooding whenever a nor’easter or hurricane skirts the Northeast Florida coast.

The building was constructed in 1954. There were additions in the 1970s and again in 1995.

Clark’s Fish Camp and Seafood Restaurant in a 2013 photo from its Facebook page.

“There’s just a whole hodgepodge of additions that have been put on over the years and the building life of those additions has pretty much been exceeded,” Franks said.

“Until I really dig underneath this thing, I don’t know what’s under there. We’ve got to tear up a lot of flooring and see what they’ve done for 47 years under there.”

Franks wants to retain the fish camp vibe as much as possible.

He paid $1.4 million for the restaurant and 3 acres of property. He also acquired the Clark’s Fish Camp name, its website, social media, phone numbers and its large collection of taxidermy.

Former owner Joan Peoples wanted the menagerie of stuffed wildlife, to remain on display when the restaurant reopens, Franks said.

Despite being closed for a year, the air conditioning has been running to control humidity to protect the collection.

The rebuilt restaurant will retain the Clark’s Fish Camp name and the menu will be similar.

Franks is in the beginning stage of the project. He will be the general contractor but will hire area engineering and design firms.

An alligator guards the entrance to Clark’s Fish Camp and Seafood Restaurant in 2018.

The project is self-funded and Franks said it is too early to state a rebuilding cost.

Franks said he wants to put in a small beer brewery for the restaurant.

Besides reconstructing the restaurant, the 10- to 12-slip dock also will be rebuilt.

Clark’s Fish Camp closed in September 2022 after 47 years in operation. Originally, the Facebook page said it was closing for repairs, but it did not reopen.

Franks has been bringing back closed Northeast Florida restaurants.

The Flying Fish Taphouse opened in March after he remodeled the former Millhouse Steakhouse. Earlier, he rehabbed the former Paradise Alley beer store and attached motel to build Seachasers at 831 First St. N. in Jacksonville Beach. It opened in 2016 and he sold it 2022. It opened as Refinery Jax Beach later that year.

“I bought the place to renovate and breathe new life back into it. It’s an iconic nostalgic building and I think it’s important,” he said of Clark’s Fish Camp.

“I think it’s important for the community to have this facility. And it can be a successful facility again, but it’s just got to have a complete makeover. It all has to be brought up to code. And the whole thing has got to be completely overhauled.”

Clark's Fish Camp featured a large taxidermy collection including a tiger.



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