Avondale restaurant opening gets mixed response

Agreement reached with 'We Love Avondale,' Mellow Mushroom to open at 11 a.m.

Author: Erica Rakow, General assignment reporter, erakow@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 05:39:30 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 10 2014 10:10:00 AM EST
AVONDALE -

A restaurant that's been under intense debate will open its doors Monday.

Many people are excited to have Mellow Mushroom in Avondale while others, not so much.

Many residents are concerned about parking and some worry a corporate business will take away from the historic vibe of the community.

The doors are set to open at 11 a.m. and staff at Mellow Mushroom have been waiting for this day for quite some time. Many locals have also been waiting for this day, while others we talked to have not been looking forward to it.

“As far as a big corporation coming into a neighborhood that is full of a lot of local restaurants, I’m not a big fan of it,” said Grace Hasha.

Hasha thinks Mellow Mushroom has great pizza, but doesn't think Avondale is the right neighborhood for the Atlanta-based Corporation. The third Jacksonville Mellow Mushroom is set to open Monday after it took months to approve the plan due to criticism from neighbors about parking and noise concerns.

According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, owner John Valentino finally came to an agreement with the group ‘We Love Avondale’ last January, nearly a year after he announced his plan. Hasha thinks there will still be strong opposition to the opening.

“This is such a tight knit community and a lot of people in Riverside and Five Points support local business, so to have a big corporate company coming in a lot of people aren’t happy about it,” said Hasha.

But not everyone is against the grand opening. Some residents said it's good business for the city and hope it will bring more people to Avondale from the other side of the river.

One woman said she thinks parking will be a problem no matter what types of businesses open, but hopefully the city can come up with some solutions.

“Even if it was a trendy new nightclub or bar it’s one of those things Riverside and Avondale has to deal with, so if that means the trolley runs more or a parking garage opens up somewhere in Riverside or towards the public off Roosevelt, those are options that can help,” said Eileen who supports the new restaurant.

The agreement that the owner reached with ‘We Love Avondale’ included reducing the number of seats and revising the plans to renovate the Shell station that was located right next door, and instead demolish it so there would be more room for parking.