Plans For A Time Out Sports Grill Moves Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
A Jacksonville entrepreneur wants to balance neighborhood safety and respect for religious tradition with expanding business in his former neighborhood.
Matt Harris, the owner of Time Out Sports Grill, wants a second sports restaurant, Time Out Sports Grill Mandarin, located at 10140 San Jose Blvd. Open, the location of a Village Inn restaurant that closed in 2016.
Harris went before the Jacksonville Planning Commission on April 22nd to request a waiver of zoning for serving beer, wine, and liquor in restaurants and an exemption for serving outside on a patio he proposed.
The 5,000-square-foot building is adjacent to a subdivision on San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road and is close to a school and four places of worship.
Practicing Orthodox Jews live in the surrounding neighborhoods who do not use modern conveniences such as cars, cell phones, and electricity during the Sabbath Friday evening through Saturday evening and on other holy days.
Because of this, there are more pedestrians in the area than in most parts of the city.
In addition, their traditional clothing is black, making pedestrians difficult to see at night.
Harris, 30, grew up in the neighborhood and is of Jewish faith.
He said he was sensitive to the community and that he was a phone call away if there were any problems.
“A national chain could have come in here. If there are any problems it is fundamentally impossible to call these people, ”said Harris.
Plans to convert this former Village Inn into a sports restaurant met with concerns about traffic, parking, and noise in the neighborhood.
At the meeting of the planning commission, 20 residents spoke out against the terrace and the sale of spirits and referred to an increase in traffic, noise, lack of parking and the fear of anti-Semitic ridicule by visitors to the terrace.
There were voices of support as well, including a real estate agent who said the new use would not hurt property values.
I hope for a compromise
No decisions were made on April 22nd.
The Commission voted 6-0 to postpone zoning requests to May 6, with the option to postpone them to May 20 if no compromise is reached.
“It seems like we’re really close to satisfying everyone. We’ll sit down with the leaders of those who don’t want to and see what we can do to get everyone on the same page, ”Harris said.
The commission’s recommendations will be forwarded to the City Council’s Land Use and Zoning Committee and then to the full council to vote on the application.
The terrace was a major point of contention.
Several speakers said the noise from sports fans watching a game would disrupt the contemplative peace sought during a worship service.
Others spoke out against a proposed 3v3 charity basketball tournament, saying the dribbling balls on the tarmac would also be an unwanted distraction.
The former Village Inn at 10140 San Jose Blvd. (Google)
In terms of parking, the property has space for 77 vehicles as well as two disabled parking spaces. The zone code stipulates that only 50 are required.
However, residents said the reality is that 20-25 seats are being occupied by staff and that the nearby Blue Bamboo restaurant is using the vacant Village Inn property for overflow parking.
Major events shown on the sports bar TVs will bring more than 50 cars, opponents said.
They fear that visitors will park in their neighborhood.
Harris said he would call to have customers’ cars towed that are parked in the neighborhood. While cars are legal to park, Harris stressed that he would be proactive in ensuring that customers’ cars remain on the restaurant premises.
Since the property is reserved for a restaurant, Harris could serve beer and wine without getting permission. But cocktails generate more sales.
Harris said rising food prices made alcohol sales a crucial part of the business plan.
For example, the cost of a 40 pound box of chicken wings, a staple for sports restaurants, has increased from $ 87 to $ 150.
“That way, I can keep selling chicken wings for $ 10.99, offsetting them with a $ 5, $ 6, and $ 7 cocktail,” Harris said.
Rogers Towers attorney TR Hainline, who is representing Harris on the zoning, told the planning committee that the restaurant owner was willing to forego the terrace.
However, the commissioners wanted to see if the terrace could be relocated to another location on the property and landscaped so that customers would not be able to interact with pedestrians.
Due to COVID-19, more deviations in outdoor dining have been allowed than in the past, according to the commission.
Ramzy Bakkar, who owns the building, said he kept an eye on the neighborhood while the building remained empty.
He said he turned down rental offers to those who wanted to place a cannabis dispensary, shisha lounge, and gas station on the property.
Existing zones allow not only a restaurant with an indoor restaurant, but also companies such as drive-through restaurants, car washes and convenience stores.
Commissioner Ian Brown was inclined to seek a compromise.
“(Harris) could be your golden ticket. He wants to put something on the corner that you can tolerate, ”Brown said to the audience.
A focus on security
Harris offers to help pedestrians in new ways.
He said when he reached out to religious leaders to support the renunciation, three agreed.
Rabbi Yaakor Fisch of the Etz Chaim Synagogue at 10167 San Jose Blvd. hesitated.
Fisch feared a store on this corner would increase traffic and make it more dangerous for parishioners going to the synagogue to cross the often busy San Jose Boulevard.
In 2013, a woman was hit by a car while on her way to the services of Yom Kippur and was killed at this intersection.
Even before the fatal accident, Fisch was working with state and local authorities to improve pedestrian safety in the area. He called for additional crosswalks, longer crossing times of nine seconds to 44 seconds, as well as camera-activated intersection lights so that no one has to touch the button.
Harris offers to hire a border guard at his expense to help people cross this intersection before and after the service.
“I am pragmatic. While I’m not thrilled that a sports bar is coming in and bringing a lot of traffic into the community, I have to be realistic. Nevertheless, there will be a facility at some point, ”said Fisch.
Harris said the cost will be expensive, but it will pay off.
“I’ll probably have to pay thousands of dollars a year. But we want to be the local restaurant where people can hang out and watch sports, ”he said.