Gas station demolished, clearing space for Mellow Mushroom

Battle lasted for months between owner, residents


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Shell gas station in Avondale was demolished Monday morning to clear space for a Mellow Mushroom set to be built.

It took about 10 months for the restaurant owner and Avondale neighbors to come to an agreement about bringing the pizzeria to the historic neighborhood. It will be located at St. Johns and Ingleside avenues.

The biggest complaints for the new eatery were the noise, late-night crowds and parking problems in the area.

"It's bittersweet. It all started out with, 'We're going to open a Mellow Mushroom in Avondale,' and some of the residents were upset," owner John Valentino said.

It's been a long year and a half for Valentino. The new Avondale store will be his fourth Mellow Mushroom and has been his biggest challenge.

Valentino says there won't be any issues.

"We are a family-friendly restaurant, even though some tried to portray us as not being," he said. "I've always contended we always have more high chairs than any other restaurant in this neighborhood."

The pizza place will have 204 seats with 26 new parking spots total.

"More traffic issues is the problem," resident Maureen Ely said. "Since I walk (my dog) Percy all the time, I see them. They come around and they zoom down this street, which is Pine Street, trying to find a parking place."

Others say parking problems come with the territory.

"I think that if you live in a neighborhood like this, you expect to have people parking in front of your house," said Bonnie Brady, who's lived in Avondale for 17 years. "It's what happens when you move into a neighborhood like this."

The owner hopes to have the restaurant up and running by December.

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