JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Late Thursday night the Jacksonville Planning Commission approved a plan by regional restaurant chain Mellow Mushroom to move into the historic Avondale area, with some changes.
"Ultimately, I'll be happy and I'm quite confident that the neighborhood will be happy too," said Mellow Mushroom and property owner John Valentino.
However, neighbors have been pushing to have the restaurant scaled down for months and could appeal the commission's decision. A grassroots group called "We Love Avondale" said their biggest concerns were having enough parking to accommodate the large restaurant and making sure the development fits into the area.
"You know, we're not against John Valentino or Mellow Mushroom," shared Tommy Donahoo, a member of We Love Avondale. "We know he's a very successful businessman, but we just don't feel this is a proper fit for our area."
Valentino said he has scaled back his plans many times to accommodate neighbors' concerns.
"A lot of Mellow Mushrooms go into very historic locations and adapt with the neighborhood and that's what we intend to do here," Valentino explained.
Though some believe the plans have not changed enough and are worried about the prominent bar slated for the restaurant, which they think will change the atmosphere of the area.
"When you're open [un]til 2:00 a.m., I mean, let's face it, there are things that happen then that you don't really want in your backyard or in your side yard," said Donahoo.
Valentino said the Mellow Mushroom will be a family-friendly restaurant and he does not understand why people have been resistant to adding another option on a piece of property that he believes does nothing for the area.
"This vacant lot has kind of been an eyesore of the neighborhood for a long, long time and I think it'd be nice to invest dollars here and provide jobs and improve the economy," Valentino reasoned.
First Coast News