Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

MAY 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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120 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MAY 2017 facility design p r o j e c t o f t h e m o n t h "Before Aqua Grill moved, this was a tough time for the restaurant because so much construction was going on around it," Meek says. "It was like operating in the middle of a war zone. The owners had to work in these very disrup- tive conditions and do things like bring in valets for parking because the main parking lot area was ripped up during the site construction of phase two." Meek worked with Aqua Grill to negotiate the financing and develop a new restaurant to meet Hart's and Paige's needs. "The outside objective of the transition to a new restaurant was to be open for the The Players Champion- ship, one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the country," Meek says. "However, our goal was to be open by October 2015 in time for the huge college football rivalry game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia held annually in Jacksonville. We were able to meet this objective." The main challenge in moving into the space allocated for Aqua Grill was to properly situate and finance the restaurant to allow for the outdoor patio to overlook the lake. The landlord was cognizant and respectful of the fact that Aqua Grill had to open as soon as possible from the time it was shut down on Sept. 13, 2015, until it opened on Oct. 28, 2015. "They were shut down for six weeks," Meek says. "They closed on September 13, and on September 14 an auctioneer came in to sell what was possible." During this transition and shut-down time, Aqua Grill continued to pay the core management team and retained many of the hourly staff. "In spite of all the challenges, Aqua Grill's business blossomed," Meek says. "In spite of all the physical challenges they were confronted with, they opened up with a bang and hit a home run." FE&S Cary Hart, proprietor. After moving to Gainesville, Fla., in 1983, Hart opened a restaurant, Aw Shucks, which remained open until 1993. When he moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in 1988, he opened another Aw Shucks and changed the name to Aqua Grill in 1998. In 1990, he started a golf tournament to raise funds for Lukeumia research, which ran until 1997, and he also organized a Child Cancer Fund event in 2012 after 9/11 that raised more than $158,000. He continues to run annual fundraisers in conjunction with anniversary parties for the Child Cancer Fund. Cary Paige, managing partner. Opening Aqua Grill in 1988 as a partner, Paige left the industry to help his family's business in 1994. He returned to Aqua Grill in 2001 as managing partner. The restaurant business has always been his passion, and he appreciates that the day-to-day business operation is never the same. Mike Thomashunis, executive chef. Born in Germany and moving as a child with his military family to the U.S., Thomashunis took his first job as a dishwasher at the age of 15. He quickly worked his way up to a cook's position and worked in numerous Central Florida restaurants. After receiving a degree from the American Culinary Academy, he interned at the Terrace Hotel in Lakeland, Fla., and later took a sous chef position. Moving to Jacksonville, he worked his way up to sous chef at Aqua Grill, moved to Park Place Café in Atlanta as chef de cuisine and returned to Aqua Grill in 2012 as executive chef. He has a love for local fresh ingredients and developing new ideas and techniques. Thomas Galvin, FCSI, president, Galvin Design Group Inc. Galvin has been a food facilities and architectural design consultant for 35 years. He has worked on projects in 32 countries for every segment of the hospitality industry, including restaurants, amusement parks, businesses, schools and resorts. He has also taught foodservice design at colleges, including Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando, Fla., and Boston University. Craig Meek, president, Meek Development Group, Jacksonville, Fla. Meek served as the owner's representative and construction manager for Aqua Grill. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., he formed Meek Development Group in 1991. Meek Development Group provides comprehensive commercial real estate, project, development and construction management services throughout Florida. It has been involved in the delivery and development of more than 2.6 million square feet of commercial-related facilities. Marianne L. Poltar, IIDA, NCIDQ, director of interiors and brand, Gravity Architecture and Design LLC, Orlando, Fla. Born, raised and college educated in Ohio, Poltar joined the design industry 13 years ago. She joined Gravity Architecture and Design in 2007 and brings her experience to projects in hospitality, retail, education and commercial business. She serves on the Florida Central Chapter board of the International Interior Design Association. MEET THE PLAYERS

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