Serving Up a Fight Over Kickbacks Expansion | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Kickbacks Gastropub is planning a large scale expansion on King Street in Riverside, but all is not going according to plan.
The Riverside Avondale Preservation Society has raised some serious concerns with the construction, and neither side is backing down.
For the past four years Jymmie O'Connell has served the growing crowd at Kickbacks restaurant and bar.
"It's a little bit like Mardi Gras. Trying to get through Bourbon Street at the height of Fat Tuesday," said O'Connell.
It's so busy they can barely serve everyone who walks through the doors.
"We have a lot of people who love this place, and we just can't serve them properly because we can't expand to meet the demand," he said.
There is a plan in place to expand Kickbacks to an additional restaurant and bar, but they're getting significant push back from the Riverside Avondale Preservation Society about the already crowded parking problems on the street.
"I've had to park further away from the front door of Walmart when I go there than I do here even on the busiest of days," said O'Connell.
But parking isn't the only issue for the opponents of the expansion, who have signed petitions and spoken out at zoning board meetings to block construction.
"We're not anti-business. We're not anti-Kickbacks. We've actually referred quite a few of our clients to Kickbacks," said Tom Merten.
The Mertens own The Jenk's House B and B down the street and while they support the pub, Mr. Merten said enough is enough.
"Adding 250 seats to what's becoming an already bloated entertainment district is just too much," he said.
"It's a much bigger and more complex issue than parking and mayhem. It's about the value of the neighborhood," said Ila Rae Merten.
Back at Kickbacks, though, they argue the booming business has done nothing but help Riverside.
"The clientele has gone up, the average age has gone up, the average income of people coming in here has gone up, all around it's just getting better and better," said O'Connell.
The next public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 22.