Sweet Pete’s co-owners Allison and Peter Behringer intend to open Fizzies & Fare on July 9 in the historic Seminole Building.
For nearly two years, candymakers Allison and Peter Behringer have toyed with the idea of opening a restaurant in Downtown Jacksonville’s historic Seminole Building, home of their Sweet Pete’s candy shop.
“We never really wanted to pull the trigger. We’re not restaurateurs by trade. We’re candymakers,” Allison Behringer said.
The Behringers plan to open Fizzies & Fare on July 9 in the building’s vacant first-floor restaurant space.
Sweet Pete’s shared the historic three-story structure with the Alice in Wonderland-themed 10/Six Grille from October 2019 until March 2020, when the owner shut it because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was the third restaurant to operate in the space.
Allison Behringer said they felt a void in the space at 400 N. Hogan St. and a chance to create a second business concept.
“We’ve loved all the restaurants that have been here. We’ve collaborated with them,” she said July 6.
“There’s definitely a different energy in the building when this space is empty and nothing’s in it,” she said.
“So we felt like now is our opportunity to do what we had envisioned for a couple of years.”
Operating hours for what the Behringers call a “sweet dining experience” will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Allison Behringer said Fizzies & Fare will be “a modern take on your classic soda shop.”
The Fizzies & Fare name comes from the 500 sodas for sale in the shop, she said.
Before opening Fizzies & Fare, the Behringers increased the soda variety from the 300 available at Sweet Pete’s with a goal of 1,000.
The Fizzies & Fare menu on the Sweet Pete’s website lists “over-the-top” milkshakes, burgers, wings, fries, chicken salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and more, including a vegan burger, vegan bratwurst and dairy-free cheese.
“In terms of the food, we wanted something that is simple. If you’re coming here with your children, if you’re coming here on a date, there’s something for everyone — easy, not a long wait,” she said.”
Behringer said recipes include Peter’s homemade chili for chili cheese fries and Chicago dog the couple has made at home for years.
Prices start at $5 for a wedge salad; $6 for a corn dog; $8 for a BLT; and they rise to $13.50 for the Fizzies’ Impossible burger, the most expensive entree on the menu. Kids’ meals are $5 and $6.
The dessert menu includes ice cream scoops, sundaes, floats, shakes, a banana split and more. Coming soon are a $10 Guinness Float, Sparking Sorbet Float and Sangria Sorbet Float.
A single scoop of ice cream is $3.50. Sundaes start at $5.50 and “Crazy Shakes” are $12.
A $55 Farrell’s Zoo comprises 30 scoops of ice cream and toppings, including animal crackers.
Fizzies & Fare will offer table service and a place for guests and “belly up to the bar,” she said.
The restaurant has a bar in the main dining room.
For a $300 beer, wine and/or food purchase, people can reserve a portion of the dining area, Behringer said. The website says one table for eight to 12 people can be reserved.
Behringer said the dining area primarily is walk-up service.
She said the couple approached Seminole Building owner JWB Real Estate Capital LLC in April with the idea for the restaurant.
Bringing a restaurant back to the space allows the Behringers to resume services like wine, beer buckets and appetizers with Sweet Pete’s Boozy Truffle Classes, she said.
New features like giant Jenga and Connect Four games aim to give customers a reason to stay at the Seminole Building and Downtown.
“People coming Downtown want to be here more than 30 minutes. So when they can take a class, take a (Sweet Pete’s) tour, sit down and eat, have a drink, they can make a day of it,” Behringer said.
“It helps to have something going on.”
Behringer said using the existing kitchen and Sweet Pete’s marketing and graphic design team reduced Fizzies & Fare’s build-out and start-up costs.
The Behringers invested less than $50,000 to make cosmetic changes to the dining and bar areas, she said.
The restaurant walls are covered with soda bubble graphics and pastel accents. Candy-colored lighting and fixtures hang from the ceiling over the tables and a revamped bar.
Fizzies & Fare hired four to five employees for the opening, including back-of-house staff with “years of restaurant experience” and Peter Behringer will run the restaurant, Allison Behringer said.
The Behringers tested the menu with its employees for the past two weeks and had a family and friends event last weekend.
Behringer said Sweet Pete’s co-owner, investor and TV reality star Marcus Lemonis, who moved the candy shop to the Seminole Building in July 2014, is not part of Fizzies & Fare.
Lemonis bought the building and initially leased the restaurant space to the Candy Apple Café.
It did not reopen after the building closed temporarily in 2018 for repairs. Lemonis, based in Chicago, then briefly operated MLG – Marcus Lemonis Grill – in the building.
The 10/Six Grille closed after several months.
Lemonis sold the building in January 2020 to Jacksonville-based JWB Real Estate Capital for $1.7 million.
Behringer said strong sales at Sweet Pete’s as the pandemic eases also allowed them to try the restaurant concept.
Behringer said the couple hopes to expand Fizzies & Fare’s menu and operating hours as the restaurant attracts business in the Downtown North Core neighborhood.
The structure is across Hogan Street from City Hall and on the block that JWB intends to redevelop with mixed-use renovations of the Baptist Convention and Federal Reserve buildings.
“We just want to take it slow and do a few things really, really well and then go into brunch and dinner.”