Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lava Grill Closes; Site Hasn't Been Good for Restaurants

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lava Grill Closes; Site Hasn't Been Good for Restaurants

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

The message on the Lava Grill restaurant's telephone answering machine says it all:

"We are sorry. We closed our doors for good. If you are interested in purchasing the business, you can reach us on a cell phone at . . ."

The waterfront restaurant in Mandarin closed quietly a few weeks ago, the fourth dining spot to open and close there in a decade.

Donna Burnside and Vicki Finney opened a 152-seat facility behind the Mandarin Holiday Marina at 12760 San Jose Blvd. in early 2001. David Greenbaum and his family took it over in September 2004, saying it was a "fun" place to operate, but didn't make a profit. So now he's posted a sign that says the equipment is for sale. He added that his lease runs out in a few months.

"It got too fancy for the neighborhood. I changed the menu to a nice seafood menu, and that is apparently not what the customers were looking for. They liked the bar environment with simple menu," said Greenbaum. "Parking was one of the biggest problems. It was a dangerous intersection as well. I tried to combat parking with a valet service, but that didn't work -- only $2 per car."

News the restaurant is gone pleased Fruit Cove resident Ray Wentworth, one of 11 Mandarin and St. Johns County residents who filed noise complaints against it with Jacksonville officials over the past two years. While none of them were substantiated by city noise inspectors, the 63-year-old man said the Lava Grill's outdoor speakers blasted music right at his neighborhood across Julington Creek and was louder than his television.

"It is peaceful again and I hope it never opens again," Wentworth said. "It's gone and everyone here is happy."

The Lava Grill was on Julington Creek behind the Mandarin Marina, just before San Jose Boulevard crosses into St. Johns County. The Thirsty Camel operated there through the late 1990s, followed by a Corky Bell's Seafood Bar and Grill for two years, then Shepherd's -- Everything Under The Sea for 10 months. …

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