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First Coast Foodies: Navy veteran serves up eclectic comfort food near Mayport Naval Station

Lt. Chris Straw served in the Navy for 20 years, but when he left he couldn't find the job he wanted so he created his own business.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Finding meaningful jobs for our veterans is important. The veteran unemployment rate is currently 5.9 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

When a local Navy pilot finished his 20 year career with the military, he needed a job but couldn’t find what he wanted. So Lieutenant Chris Straw created one by opening The Hangar Bay Cafe just down the road from Naval Station Mayport.

“The hangar bay on a ship is where the aircraft lived and that’s a pretty cool place because everyone wants to go there even if they’re not part of aviation,” Straw said. 

Straw was a pilot in the Navy for 20 years. He’s humble about his service so it’s best to learn more about his story on the walls of the restaurant decorated with Navy memorabilia and memories of the aircraft he piloted. 

Straw opened his café about five years ago with the hopes that shipmates down the road will stop in.

“Basically Hangar Bay has an eclectic comfort food menu," Straw described. 

Fried chicken and ramen bowls are a staple. The ramen bowls are like taking a bite out of his Navy memories after his time in Japan. 

The menu also serves seafood, including shrimp and grits. 

Straw is closing shop for Veterans Day, but if you see him out thank him for his service. When asked what more we can do to thank our veterans, Straw said a thank you is enough.

“If you can acknowledge that it’s a hard job and a challenge for the family and the individuals and just say thank you sincerely, that’s good enough," said Straw.

When they open back up, you can find him eating fried chicken at the counter surrounded by all things Navy.

Check out the full menu here.

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