First Watch, the “daytime” café, which has three locations already in Jacksonville, is coming to Brooklyn Station.
The breakfast-brunch-and-lunch restaurant will take over the more than 4,000-square-foot free-standing building that formerly housed the Corner Bakery Café at 192 Riverside Ave., said Eric Davidson, a spokesman for Regency Centers, which owns the shopping center.
First Watch has signed a 10-year lease deal, and will begin construction on the restaurant location this summer. In addition to the Brooklyn restaurant, the restauranteur is also currently building outposts on Southside Boulevard and in the Shoppes at Bartram Park.
“Jacksonville is a strategic part of our continued growth in Florida, and we are excited to continue our expansion with these high-profile locations,” said Matthew Livingston, southeast director of real estate for First Watch.
Presently the chain, which is based in Bradenton, Florida, has three other locations in the Jacksonville area – Mandarin, Southside, and in Jacksonville Beach.
The Corner Bakery Café at Brooklyn Station was one of two such restaurants in Jacksonville that closed suddenly without notice in early December 2016. The other location was on Bonneval Road off Butler Boulevard. Both locations had opened in 2014. The two Corner Bakery restaurants were owned by Lee Wesley Group LLC, which is headquartered in Orlando with offices in Jacksonville.
“Economic conditions and other factors often force a restaurant to close, and these are circumstances that are difficult to control,” said Breana Whalen of Fishman Public Relations in Illinois in a prepared statement on behalf of The Corner Bakery. “Restaurant sites that might have seemed ideal when first opened can become less desirable locations, due to changes in traffic flow, nearby construction or even a shift in the primary commercial area.”
“We think First Watch will be an excellent addition to the retail mix in Brooklyn Station as well as for Riverside,” said Carrie Smith, a Riverside resident and managing director for Franklin Street, a commercial real estate company.
Brooklyn Station and 220 Riverside have become a destination for both residents and daily commuters who work in the area, and First Watch’s “daytime café” concept is a good fit for this location, she said.
“There was a lot of competition with other restaurants and retailers for this space, which tells us the former tenant’s experience may be specific to only them. We have done a tremendous amount of research and market analysis related to this location before making the commitment,” Smith continued.
“First Watch is confident in the location and so am I. The center fills an interesting gap nestled between downtown and Riverside and is easy to reach for business people and residents. First Watch’s concept is a little different than the previous restaurant – First Watch has full service as opposed to counter service, focuses on breakfast, brunch, or lunch anytime during its opening hours and the concept touts its healthy and nutritious cooked-to-order offerings. While not based here, the concept has become a go-to ‘neighborhood’ spot in its other locations across the city,” she said.