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Jacksonville is in the middle of a major renaissance fueled by local ‘Makers’, people who are helping the city find its true identity by combining the city's grit with hard work, creating an influx of originality and local businesses to the community.
Jax’s new wave of ‘Makers’ are young, passionate and hungry for all things local and real. They are embracing the city’s unique culture and history, and carving a progressive path that fuses our coastal and southern influences to create a unique experience and a new sense of place.
A Community of Makers
The Railyard District is an emerging commerce and artisanal borough off Downtown Jacksonville with a collective sense of history and innovation. Home to locally owned businesses like Engine 15 Brewing Company, Eco Relics, Rethreaded, the Jacksonville Farmers Market and unique architectural gems like the Glass Factory, this evolving neighborhood is focused on highlighting the history that once made it one of Jacksonville’s busiest areas and repurposing its once abandoned warehouses and buildings into new creativity centers.
Jacksonville has undertaken an initiative to re-purpose old industrial buildings for the artists’ community. The CoRK Arts District is one example of this initiative. The CoRK Arts District is comprised of more than 80,000 square feet of warehouse space in several Riverside warehouses centered around artist studios and galleries. CoRK's network of warehouses date back to the 1920s. Businesses such as the Atlantic Match Company, Peter Ballantine & Sons, Francis H. Leggett & Company, Schell-Sasse, and Dixon Powdermaker established a presence there.
The Doro District
Comprised of several early-20th century industrial buildings originally owned by the Doro family. The area is aiming to become an epicenter for culinary, cultural and artistic creativity in Jax. The Doro District is already home to an all-organic craft distillery, Manifest Distilling, and Jacksonville’s largest tap room and craft brewery, Intuition Ale Works. The Doro District is located across the street from a parcel of land on the St. Johns River that is being developed into a massive half billion-dollar mixed-use development spearheaded by local billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shad Khan.
Mention coffee in Jacksonville, and people don’t think of perennial instant coffee giant, Maxwell House, which opened a processing plant in 1910 that still stands today. They think of entrepreneurs like Jason Kelloway, a U.S. veteran who started Social Grounds Coffee. In addition to sourcing the best coffee from around the world and roasting it in-house, Social Grounds works with the City of Jacksonville to employ and empower homeless Veterans. Another local coffee maker has created a local cult-like following. Bold Bean Coffee has several locations through toy the city and partners with several breweries for unique craft beers.
Congaree and Penn Farm is a Jax success story that came out of nowhere. It is the only rice farm in Florida, and one of the only in the nation that mills its own rice fresh all year long. They also have the largest Mayhaw orchard in the world. Local couple, Scott and Lindsay Meyer, run the farm and collaborate with dozens of local restaurants on unique recipes, as well as sell the farm’s products nationwide, including rice, grits, jams and shrubs.
Jacksonville locals Allison and Kurt D’Aurizio are opening Flour & Fig Bakehouse in the Springfield neighborhood this spring. Flour & Fig represents a brick-and-mortar incarnation that was born out of “My Grandmother’s Pie” and “Provision Goods”, two farmer’s market-based operations that Allison and Kurt made popular in Jacksonville. While Allison wowed locals with her baked goods at farmer’s markets, Kurt produced and sold pestos, cashew cheese, marinades, and granolas at Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market.
Jacksonville’s food scene has embraced young chefs and restauranteurs, and a good example is Kenny Gilbert, a contestant on Top Chef (season 7) who owns Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, and Gilbert’s Social, famous for its “southern ramen.” He’s one of the truly disruptive chefs on the Jacksonville food scene, with an outsized personality and a nose for culinary creativity.
Jonathan Insetta has been elevating the Jacksonville food scene for over a decade, becoming a pioneer by opening high-end concepts everyone could enjoy. Bellwether, Black Sheep and Orsay are some of the best examples of Jacksonville’s culinary scene and Insetta is responsible for making them all a reality.
Jacksonville’s beer scene is gaining some serious credibility. Thanks to popular craft breweries like Intuition Ale Works, which was the first craft brewery in Florida to can its beer, to newcomers like Jacksonville’s first nanobrewery, Hyperion Brewing Co., beer lovers are starting to take notice. Hyperion was founded and is owned by Jacksonville native Alexandra Keown, one of the few female craft brewery owners in the state. Hop along the Jax Ale Trail to learn more.
One Spark is an innovation festival aimed at showcasing new ideas and projects to potential investors and the community. This local festival gives startup companies a platform to grow their footprint and take off! There is an art, culture, and social component to One Spark.
These are not your grandmother’s craft markets! Jacksonville host several ‘Makers’ fairs during the Spring and Fall showcasing the products and projects of local innovators and creators. The year-round Riverside Arts Market features dozens of local craft makers, food trucks, and even craft beer brewers under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge every Saturday morning.
To learn more about Jacksonville’s Makers scene, go to www.VisitJacksonville.com.
Local Expert Guest