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long gone gainesville institutions

Discussion in 'GatorTail Pub' started by buckeyegator, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. Crusher

    Crusher GC Hall of Fame

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    There is still one in Brunswick, GA if you are up for a drive (run by the same gentleman that ran the one here in G'ville prior to it closing).
     
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  2. Crusher

    Crusher GC Hall of Fame

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    And Granny's was up top next to Eckerds.
     
  3. gatorknights

    gatorknights GC Hall of Fame

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    It was good but not that good. :D Mrs. GK was horrified when she heard a was a regular. I'm pretty sure they lost money on me on the AUCE breakfasts.
     
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  4. vicchu

    vicchu Recruit

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    Did you ever find anything about Mac's? That's what brought me here too.
     
  5. vicchu

    vicchu Recruit

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  6. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  7. etennant

    etennant Premium Member

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    I miss Tony & Pats over off Archer. Their lunch buffet was the best.
     
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  8. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    Been in the Gvl area since the 60s if I could bring back one eatery it would be this one I miss the heck out of sitting in the shade of the trees and eating potato wedges and the best burgers and chicken sandwiches in town, I got to know the owner Steve over the years a truly great guy
    After 34 years, Cafe Gardens shuts its doors
    When the doors close Sunday night, it will mark the end of an era for Cafe Gardens.

    When McKinney was asked the reason for closing, he said to refer to his e-mail correspondence.
    “In this economy, with our business plan my projections indicate that we would be unable to keep pace with the rising expenses in this location,” he wrote.
    Serving the Gainesville and University of Florida community since 1976, Cafe Gardens has been an enduring icon in a town where businesses come and go as frequently as the student population.

    It all started in 1975 when a couple of recent college graduates, Mike Leet and Wade Blaker,
    made the trip from Georgia to Gainesville with a dream to open a beer and burger joint in a college town.
    They asked Steve McKinney to be their chief executive adviser, and by April 1, 1976, they were ready to open for business.

    After changing hands in 1979, Cafe Gardens and McKinney reunited in 1983 and have been together since.

    The restaurants 34th anniversary was celebrated April 1.

    Just a month and a day later, the doors will close for good.

    The decision to close was not an easy one for McKinney, who announced the news to his staff on March 29.

    “For the first few days, I couldn’t talk to anybody about it,” McKinney said. “It was very difficult to tell the staff, but they were very supportive. I explained to them the situation and they all got up and said a bunch of nice things about what a great place to work it was.“
    McKinney declined to comment on the rent or the Smysor family. who owns the property.
    The restaurant at 1643 NW 1st Ave. is nestled behind The Swamp Restaurant, another property owned by the Smysors.

    “Times have changed. I think that my concept has remained strong throughout the years - good products, made-to-order and personal service. We’ve kept true to that business model, but we’ve gotten to the point where I realized that to meet the rising expenses at this location, I’d have to change the business model.“
    Changing that model is not something McKinney is willing to do, especially with the risks involved in the restaurant industry, he said.
    “I started this business when I was a young man and now I’m a little bit older young man,” he said. “At my age, I need to be doing things that aren’t risky.”

    As a result, McKinney is officially retiring from the restaurant industry when Cafe Gardens closes.
    He said he is involved in starting a new business to help home and business owners save on utilities.
    John Fleming of Trimark Properties has been acting as a media liaison for the owners.
    “They have thoroughly enjoyed having Cafe Gardens there for over three decades and wish Steve McKinney well in his retirement,” Fleming said.

    The owners “will look for a similar neighborhood concept to replace it,” Fleming said. “There aren’t any development plans for that site or any other sites in the area.“
    Hooters of Gainesville employees denied the rumor that Hooters might be moving into the location.

    “We are not at this time planning on relocating. 34th and Archer is the only one that will be opening up in Gainesville,” a Hooters manager said.

    Bruce Clary, assistant director for the Office of Technology Licensing at UF has been a patron for 25 years.
    “It’s like a loss in the family,” Clary said. “I was shocked when Steve told me and I told everyone I know it’s closing so they can go there one last time before it closes.”

    Clary described Cafe Gardens as his “island of tranquility from the office” that took only a few minutes to get to from campus.

    Devon Vlasin has been working at Cafe Gardens for almost six years and has been the kitchen manager for more than four years.

    “It’s upsetting. An icon in the community is shutting down and is not going to be here for people to enjoy in the fall,” Vlasin said.

    Vlasin will miss the tranquility Cafe Gardens has provided.

    “Our patio dining area alone is very serene and peaceful, especially being so close to campus,” Vlasin said. “On game days and different football games, basketball games, or concerts, it was almost like a getaway from the hustle and bustle of life on University Avenue. This provided a great place to eat great food, have a few beers, sit back and relax and enjoy the weather.”

    McKinney will miss Cafe Gardens, but the relationships he has built over the years are what matter to him the most.

    Beside reminiscing about how many students he has helped put through UF, he likes to tell the story of a couple who had their first date at Cafe Gardens, got engaged there and returned with their family 25 years later to celebrate their anniversary.

    “We’ve developed a lot of great relationships with staff members over the years,” McKinney said. “The relationships I’ve built with the customers over the years are worth more to me than any monetary fortune I could ever have acquired in this business.”
     
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  9. gtr2x

    gtr2x GC Hall of Fame

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    Big fan back on the day. Sorry to see another icon go.
     
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  10. gatordavisl

    gatordavisl VIP Member

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    Awww man. As an undergrad, I enjoyed many a good sandwich. During my years as a grad student, I played several gigs out on the patio.
     
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  11. g8orbill

    g8orbill Old Gator Moderator VIP Member

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    as a 40 year veteran of the restaurant biz- I can tell you the industry has greatly changed and it is much harder for a Mom and Pop restaurant to compete these days with all the chains- I miss the people, but I do not miss the bulchit that went along with being an owner. As far as financial- my 7 years in real estate have been much more financially positive. Life goes on and things change- you just have to adapt and this guy realized adapting would change who he was and what his biz model was- he went out on top by his own choice- good for him-
     
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  12. gatorknights

    gatorknights GC Hall of Fame

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    Sad to see it go I've spent more than a few $$ there over the years, but sometimes you gotto do what you gotto do. Best of luck to them.
     
  13. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    I keep hoping he will open a new place today we're just really good at what they did and it was a matter of the rent and I happen to know the people who own the properties I was very disappointed
     
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  14. gatordavisl

    gatordavisl VIP Member

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    Didn't Cafe Gardens close a couple decades ago and then make a comeback? I seem to remember it happening maybe around the mid 90s?
     
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  15. murphree_hall

    murphree_hall GC Legend

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    As a business owner, with buildings, employees, machinery, tools, etc... I dream of selling everything and becoming a successful real estate agent when I grow up. :(
     
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  16. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    it started, ran several years shut down and then Steve reopened it and it ran until he closed it because of the rent increase from the Smysors, we lived in the Finley neighborhood in the 80's and walked to CG several times a week for a great outside dinner, I used to take clients and colleagues there even after we moved from that neighborhood
    an aside: one of my favorite sides at CG was their potato wedges, they disappeared from the menu after a week or so we were there and asked to talk to steve, he sat with us and told us that the wedges were just not cost effective, I asked him about just raising the price to what would work for them, he did it and the wedges were back on the menu in less than a week at a dollar more then they were previously he kept them on the menu until the place closed, he was just that kind of guy he listened when customers had ideas and suggestions.... really miss the place
     
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  17. gatordavisl

    gatordavisl VIP Member

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    Thanks JJH. Is the Finley neighborhood there behind the UF Alumni Center? As I recall, JJ Finley elementary school is back there several blocks, so I might be answering my own question. The student ghetto was directly north of campus, but my impression was that the neighborhood north of the stadium was much nicer, where faculty and high-ranking professionals lived. Some really nice properties in that area. The vegetation is exceptional.
     
  18. gatordavisl

    gatordavisl VIP Member

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    P.S. I always liked Cafe Gardens too. Lived in G'ville 88-93 and 05-12. During the second stint, they had a larger patio area and as I mentioned above, I had the pleasure of playing jazz gigs there many times. If you were a regular, you probably heard Taylor Roberts (guitar) play many times. He had a stable gig there for a few years.
     
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  19. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    The Finley neighborhood was a mix of students and others, really enjoyed the atmosphere, lived at the corner of 7th ave and 17th st rented a house there for several years
     
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  20. Crusher

    Crusher GC Hall of Fame

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    Can't call it the Finley neighborhood no more:

    J.J. Finley Park to be renamed
    Jesse J. Finley - Wikipedia

    Matter of fact, the City, Nathan Collier, nor UF likes the term "student ghetto" either.....connotations, you know. The acceptable term is now College Park. Or just refer to it as Mid-town like the students now do.
     
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