Many lawyers pursue careers unraveling complicated legal puzzles and providing solutions designed to meet the needs of parties on both sides of an issue.
That’s what lawyer Marc Hardesty of Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton and two partners did when they took over the Palms Fish Camp project in November.
They are in the middle of their restaurant ‘soft opening’ with a full-service tiki bar, boat dock, and kayak launch ramp along Clapboard Creek at 6359 Heckscher Drive.
“The demand is incredible. We just opened the doors and people are showing up, ”Hardesty said Wednesday.
The partners were the solution to a redevelopment project that began in 2002, when the city bought the property and made a deal with the existing operator to keep the old-style no-frills Florida restaurant open.
This lasted for about three years – and due to disputes between the city and the operator over issues such as rent payment – in 2005 the two sides went their separate ways and the city demolished the dilapidated building.
The site housed nothing but a sign proclaiming that a new restaurant was on the way until 2008, when the city finally began construction and then made a deal with a new operating group to take over. the restaurant once it is finished.
With the building about three-quarters ready to open, the two sides found themselves in court in 2012.
That’s where the project stayed until about a year ago, when the city settled the lawsuit for $ 125,000 and then issued a request for proposals to find another potential operator.
Enter HARDESTY and his partners, Marshall Adkison, owner of Adkison Towing, and Jay McKenzie, owner of the Sandollar restaurant on Heckscher Drive a few miles east of the Palms.
The only respondents to the city’s call for tenders, the partners agreed to complete the construction of the restaurant and complete the vision initiated 14 years earlier.
The group signed a 20-year lease and began the final phase of construction in December. Hardesty said there are still some adjustments to be made, but the Palms is open for business.
“We think we turned it from a sour note for the city into something really good,” said Hardesty.
After a few weeks of opening the doors and welcoming customers who introduced themselves, the response was positive for the concept based on North Florida products and a neighborhood atmosphere.
“What sets us apart is our fresh, local seafood like Mayport shrimp that we buy here on Heckscher Drive and only book local groups,” said Hardesty. “It’s also one of the few places where you can moor your boat, kayak or jet ski and come for lunch or dinner.”
While they were setting up the kitchen, the partners struck a deal on a wood-fired pizza oven they couldn’t pass up, Hardesty said, and it adds something to the menu that you don’t usually find. in a fishing camp.
“There aren’t a lot of places on Heckscher Drive where you can buy pizza,” he said.
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