Excerpted from Jacksonville Business Journal story.
Just four months after its first day of business, the Derby House Diner – formerly known as Derby on Park – announced it would be closing its doors permanently.
The announcement came just two weeks after Derby House Diner celebrated its grand reopening on Sept. 28 and 29, but owner Michael Schmidt said the restaurant hadn’t generated the amount of business necessary.
“It’s unfortunate. We just weren’t seeing the people coming into the door to cover overhead,” said Schmidt.
Located on the corner of Park Street in Five Points, restaurant ownership has changed hands several times in recent years. The original owners, Cheryl and Neil Corrado, sold the Derby on Park concept in 2018 to Jonathan Cobbs and Dwayne Beliakoff, owners of The Bread and Board on Oak Street. Several months into that operation, Cobbs and Beliakoff closed down the restaurant.
By January 2019, Schmidt and co-owner Chad Munsey, who also own The Bearded Pig and Rec Room, purchased the restaurant. After pouring several hundred thousand dollars into the project, renovating the interior and creating an entirely new menu, the pair opened the restaurant on June 17.
Schmidt said that their operation’s staff and menu were functionally great, and even received numerous positive reviews on social media; however, he said they made a “conscious decision, a business decision,” to close down.
“All the appreciation in the world to our staff,” said Schmidt. “We had a great menu, food quality was great. We just weren’t getting the numbers of people that we needed.”
When asked if he was considering opening a new concept in the same location, Schmidt said they would not be and instead would focus on their other concepts. He added he would be working the landlord to figure out how to handle the remainder of their lease.
Ricky Ostrofsky, a senior associate with commercial real estate broker Franklin Street, said he was surprised to see the sudden closure, adding that the previous iteration of the restaurant was a staple of Jacksonville.
“For so many years, Derby on Park was a favorite of the locals,” he said. “It’s something that everyone knows about.”
Being familiar with the Five Points area, Ostrofsky said that despite the restaurant closing yet again, the area holds strong in terms of commercial value.
“That market is just booming,” said Ostrofsky. “There’s no doubt about it, if you have the right concept and operator on that corner, it will be successful. It’s a staple of Jacksonville. That corner is excellent real estate. I would call it iconic for that part of town.”