Former Firehouse Subs founding partner Stephen Joost has become the majority owner of Cap’s on the Water restaurant at 4325 Myrtle St. in St. Augustine.
Bernard De Raad, who bought the restaurant in 1999, is staying on to manage daily operations.
Joost purchased the business in a private transaction. He does not own the property or the building. He declined to disclose the purchase price.
The two are partnering to develop new full-service, coastal restaurant concepts.
The first will be announced this year.
Joost said he is currently in negotiations with owners of waterfront locations.
“I would consider anything in Florida but obviously we’d like to stay in Northeast Florida to take advantage of the existing staff,” he said during a telephone interview.
Several employees have worked at Cap’s on the Water for 20 years or more. Many started while in high school and have made it their career, he said.
“We would like to leverage that staff knowledge and the best way to do that is to stay in Northeast Florida. I have two or three managers who could run a restaurant on their own,” Joost said.
Joost’s new company is Southside Rita LLC. It is named after his late mother.
Joost was one of the partners in Firehouse Subs, which sold to Restaurant Brands International Inc. in December 2021 for $1 billion. RBI also owns Popeyes, Burger King and Tim Hortons.
After the Firehouse Subs sale, Joost invested in Yoga Den, the largest privately owned yoga brand in Northeast Florida.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of the restaurant industry in Jacksonville for the last 30 years, but I’m not finished yet. I wanted to build another restaurant company, but never imagined this opportunity or that I would find such a perfect fit with Bernard,” Joost said in a Feb. 7 news release.
“It is an honor to own an iconic restaurant like Cap’s on the Water and continue the legacy that Bernard and his team have built.”
Cap’s on the Water is on the Intracoastal Waterway off Florida A1A in the Vilano Beach area.
It has inside and outside dining. It is open for dinner daily and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Menu mainstays include Sesame Seared Tuna, Calamari Vilano and Pear Ravioli.
De Raad’s menu offerings as well as the craft cocktails are made from scratch.
“Stephen believes in the culture and philosophy we have built at Cap’s and will ensure that it remains intact and that is very important to us,” De Raad said in the release.
“I have been dreaming up ideas for future concepts for years. We share a vision of opening new, iconic restaurants that use the same proven model as Cap’s on the Water.”
Their partnership is defined.
“I’m the business guy. I am the framer. I can get us deals. He is the artist. He is the food guy,” Joost said.
Future ventures will be similar to Cap’s on the Water in location and some menu items but they will not be called Cap’s. The idea is to have upscale, waterfront dining.
They are not locked into any one model.
“If we put a restaurant in a family-friendly area then we might sell more finger foods and appetizers. You have to cater to your audience,” he said.
Joost served on the Jacksonville City Council from 2007-15 and was Council president during the 2011-12 term.
He was comptroller for The Loop Restaurants from 1990 to 1993.