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Steakhouse closure surprises residents

Morton's was Southbank fixture since 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News that Morton's Steakhouse closed came as a surprise to those who live along the Southbank.

If you drive by, you're likely to miss it because the letters have already been removed from the building.

The restaurant has been a staple in Jacksonville since it opened in 2000. Now it bears no name.

"Any business closing in Jacksonville is a major loss, major because it hurts the economy," said Jay Dowling, who works across the street from what was once Morton's.

He's not the only one that feels that way.

"We hate to hear of any businesses in Jacksonville closing," said Katie Kurycki, of Visit Jacksonville. "Restaurants, store fronts, we hate to hear that happens."

"When you hear about businesses shutting down, people start to get a little frantic and paranoid, especially other people in that business thinking about the same thing," resident Jodie Warren said.

Some aren't all that worried about the loss of the steakhouse.

"I don't think it will hurt downtown," resident Lynn Drysdale said.

The question on the community's mind is, why? Some blame prices, others blame location. Dowling said people drive by and miss his workplace all the time.

"See that little sign right there? People don't even know we're here because of that, this location," he said.

The people at Morton's weren't willing to talk about the closure Thursday.

Michael DeSanto stored his wine at Morton's. He's been going there since it opened.

"It's just beautiful inside," he said. "To see it go out of Jacksonville to me is not cool."

The restaurant was the only Morton's in north Florida. The other Florida locations are Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, North Miami Beach, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

"It's just heartbreaking to see anything close in Jacksonville," DeSanto said. "I want Jacksonville to stay just like the Jaguars so there's places to go. It's a shame."

The company that owns Morton's was unavailable for comment Thursday, so it's unclear what the building's future may be.