The owners of the Thai cuisine restaurant launched their concept in 2016 in Harbour Village.
Almost five years after opening in Harbour Village at San Pablo Road and Atlantic Boulevard, Blue Orchid Thai Cuisine chose Riverside for its second Jacksonville location.
Owners Jeff and Bam Schofield are building-out a former dermatology office at 1551 Riverside Ave. at what is now called Riverside Village near Memorial Park.
“We are really confident this location is perfect for our concept,” Jeff Schofield said March 15.
The city is reviewing a permit application for renovation of the facility into a restaurant with outdoor space. Schofield estimates a $900,000 build-out.
Schofield said Blue Orchid could be open in September. It will seat 141 inside, with a full bar, and 44 outdoors in an area that features an Asian garden theme.
“It’s always been our plan to open a second location,” Schofield said.
The first Blue Orchid Thai Cuisine operates at 13475 Atlantic Blvd., No. 32, in Harbour Village. It seats 150, with a small outside space.
The Schofields moved to Jacksonville from Orlando in 2015 for his job with GE Oil & Gas in Cecil Commerce Center.
“My wife is Thai and Thai cooking is a passion,” Jeff Schofield said. Owning a restaurant “has always been on her radar screen.”
Montakran “Bam” Schofield is a Thai native and naturalized U.S. citizen.
Bam Schofield is the executive chef and Jeff Schofield is the chief executive.
The Schofields started the restaurant “to inspire a love of Thai cuisine and culture.”
“As a family owned and operated restaurant, Blue Orchid values tradition and hopes to bring a bit of traditional Thailand to the local community,” says the blueorchid.menu site.
Entrees include Blue Orchid Pad Thai, Volcano Shrimp, Honey Duck, curries, stir-fries, noodles and fried rice, and lunch, starters, desserts and a full bar.
Entree specialties start at $19 while curries and stir-fries start at $14. Lunch dishes start at $10.
Schofield said the couple chose the Harbour Village location because it was existing restaurant space, which reduced startup costs.
He said it was readily available and the area demographics matched well with the target market.
Blue Orchid quickly won awards as a top restaurant in Jacksonville.
The Schofields decided to look for a second location.
“We’ve been looking for probably three years,” Schofield said.
He said they had criteria. One was that it needed to be a “wow” space that could provide options like a rooftop bar or a beautiful view.
“It had to have something dramatic and something distinctive,” he said.
“There aren’t many opportunities for us that are the right size that have ‘wow’ component.”
The Schofields learned of the Riverside Village space, a 1.26-acre corner of property comprising several buildings owned by dermatologist Frank Schiavone.
Schiavone founded North Florida Dermatology Associates in 1983 and the practice operated in two of the buildings and the others were used for administrative offices and storage.
Maitland-based Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery acquired North Florida Dermatology Associates in 2014 and moved the Riverside office functions to San Marco.
Schiavone remains the landlord of the Riverside property and rezoned it into a planned unit development to include residential, commercial and retail uses.
“It was a doctor’s office built in the 1970s,” Schofield said. “We had to imagine for a moment.”
The wow factor: It overlooks Memorial Park, a riverfront property.
“The outdoor space is going to be amazing,” Schofield said.
The garden will overlook Memorial Park under a more than century-old tree canopy.
Schofield said Blue Orchid was looking for a mix of lunch and dinner traffic and customers who would walk and drive.
“It would be nice if it were in a pedestrian-friendly environment,” he said. “There aren’t many restaurants where that is.”
That’s why the Schofields looked at Riverside, an established neighborhood near Downtown, and they looked at St. Augustine.
“We toured the space within a few months of it being put on the market.”
Property records show the almost 4,200-square-foot Riverside building was developed in 1971.
Schofield said he had been talking with Schiavone for 1½ years, with plans on hold during the pandemic.
The contractor is Robert Mayhugh and the architect is Doherty Sommers Architects Engineers Inc.
NAI Hallmark retail specialists Austin Kay and Eric Yi represent Schiavone. Lara Bahri with CBRE represented the Schofields.
The Riverside Blue Orchid will open at 11 a.m. daily and close at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and midnight Friday-Saturday.
The Schofields posted a video on the blueorchid.menu site to describe the concept.
The first restaurant features artwork, decor and other items to share the experience of Thailand.
“We didn’t create this restaurant exclusively to provide Thai food,” he said.
“Our mission is to inspire people to enjoy Thailand.”
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