City Council member's family opens BBQ restaurant on Westside

City threatens lawsuit over economic development grant


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown has opened a new barbecue restaurant on the city's Westside, at the same location where the family had planned to launch a barbecue sauce manufacturing business.

Jerome Brown BBQ Westside on Commonwealth Avenue opened Friday. 

The city of Jacksonville has told another company linked to the Brown family, COWEALTH LLC, that it needs to repay a redevelopment grant, because it has not followed the terms of its agreement.

The city said it could sue the company if the money is not repaid.

A letter, dated June 24 and addressed to JoAnn Brown and COWEALTH LLC, states that the company needs to pay $210,549.99 within 15 days. According to state records, JoAnn Brown, who is Katrina Brown’s mother, is the registered agent of COWEALTH LLC, and an officer of the company. Katrina Brown, elected to represent District 8 in 2015, is also listed as an officer.

READ: City letter demanding payment | City letter advising grant default

According to the letter, the company agreed to create 56 new jobs on or before April 30, 2016, as part of its agreement for a Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund grant, but failed to do so. The agreement also called for the company to submit annual reports regarding job creation, which the letter states also has not happened. The grant was to help the company launch a manufacturing facility to produce a wide range of products, including Jerome Brown's BBQ Sauce.

According to city officials, any jobs created by the restaurant will not count as part of its agreement. 

The News4Jax I-TEAM spoke Friday with the owner of the restaurant, JoAnn Brown, who said she had no comment.

The I-TEAM also reached out to Katrina Brown for comment Friday, but has not yet heard back. 

City officials said they are still in discussions with COWEALTH LLC about repaying the grant.