It didn’t take local restaurant entrepreneurs T.J. Pelletier, Roberto Pestana and Al Waldis long to cash in on their wildly successful downtown Fernandina Beach Amelia Tavern as after less than three months they handed over the keys last week to their key financial backer, Amelia Island resident Dr. Robert Hogan, and his newly recruited management team.
The downtown Fernandina Beach tavern, at 318 Centre Street on the corner of South 4th in what used to be O’Kane’s Irish Pub, had its official opening April 21 and quickly became one of the most popular eateries and pubs in the county.
My late Uncle Norm told me once that you only start a business in order to sell it and it didn’t take the Tavern trio long to cash in their chips.
Al and T.J. bought Roberto’s share just a few weeks ago enabling the personable and talented chef to go back to concentrating full time on his successful 4th Street Espana restaurant. Dr. Hogan, who also helped back Al and T.J.’s incredibly successful Salty Pelican on Front Street, decided he wanted a more hands on “say so” in the Tavern and worked with Al and T.J. to buy their shares and then bring in his own management team. From all reports I’ve heard from the principals — and I’ve talked to each of them — all the transactions have been amicable and everyone walked away happy with continued respect for each other, a situation that doesn’t occur often in deals like this.
And there is more in the works from Dr. Hogan and his team as he’s also purchased the old Gourmet Gourmet restaurant building (aka GG’s Bistro) on the island’s south end and is converting it into an eatery to be named Pogo’s after the late Walt Kelly cartoon character. That concept has a way to go and will open under Dr. Hogan’s new management team as well, possibly next February.
Dr. Hogan brought in internationally renowned chef Marshall Ziehm from Chicago to head the new team which also includes Carol Prescot, who will handle front of the house duties at Amelia Tavern. Carol, a West Virginia native who has lived here 27 years, has been a daytime bartender at the downtown harbor’s Brett’s for some 23 years. The team is currently searching for a brew meister while they continue to await for the federal government’s official stamp of approval to brew their eight different beers in the glass-enclosed areas set up in house.
Bringing more than 30 years of culinary experience with him, Ziehm moves to Amelia Island with his wife and son from Chicago, where he was most recently executive chef at the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/Loop, home to the well known Roanoke Club, where he also ran an upscale restaurant and lounge. A graduate of the Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts) in Portland, Oregon, he has also served as a corporate chef for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. He opened Petterino’s restaurant in Chicago theater district as well as Chicago’s Ena restaurant and has cooked at Michelin starred restaurants in Europe and South America.
He shared with me a sample menu that he says is still being worked on but includes some interesting items that may or may not stay including a white shrimp chowder, shrimp ceviche, grilled octopus, roasted pig, and mac & cheese & hog. It also includes and a “chef’s exotic plate” for $15 and a “large chef’s exotic plate” at market price, with both containing what the chef likes to fix. There are many more but, once again, not all are firm as of this writing. The Chef’s exotic plate is the priciest small dish while “big plates for big beers” can also be purchased at prices that appealed to me at $18 and $21 for chicken and redfish respectively. A huge bone in strip steak may also make the menu weighing in at a hefty $48, the most expensive item on it by far.
The only things gone from the previous menu that I will miss include the home made pork rinds, big pretzels, and poutine. Come on guys, you have to
have big pretzels in a beer joint. And how about some bratwurst, knackwurst, bockwurst. weisswurst, sauerkraut and German potato salad. Or maybe this winter a Choucroute garnie, a tasty dish I can even make and do often. I know it’s not a German themed joint, but here is no place within 50 miles you can find any of these Teutonic edibles and this stuff goes great with craft beers. Just saying.
Marshall says the Tavern will close this coming Monday, July 18 and reopen July 24 while the team readies the new menu, conducts training, and makes a few other adjustments to fit their concepts. He told me that the current staff will be retained and will also be paid while the restaurant is temporarily closed, which is, I am sure, a relief to those folks.
Dr. Hogan, the man behind the screen, is a psychologist internationally known for his innovations in personality testing, and is an international authority on personality assessment, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. He is president and founder of Hogan Assessments, an almost 30-year-old worldwide firm that helps companies predict workplace performance by reducing turnover and increasing productivity, hiring the right people, developing key talent, and evaluating leadership potential. His firm’s services are used at some of the largest and most successful companies in the world.
With Dr. Hogan in the mix it looks like George Sheffield and Ernie Saltmarsh, who between them own a dozen restaurants and bars on the island, will have a kindred spirit in their midst. It would be interesting to listen in on a lunch or dinner conversation among the three of them.
Even though my suggestions don’t carry much weight, if the tavern management was to ask, I’d still propose Tyrolean slap dancers in lederhosen, an OOOM-PAAA band, ceramic beer steins, and buxom Fräuleins in revealing drindls. As I said when the Tavern originally opened in April, those ideas may be why I’m not in the hospitality industry.
Too Close To Home: Earlier this week, a guy who identified himself as Neil called the Rush Limbaugh show from St, Marys, Georgia and alerted Rush’s audience to a Black Lives Matters protest in that tiny Southeast Georgia town just north of Amelia Island tomorrow (Saturday, July 16) 6-8 p.m. and asked Rush where the folks who participate in these protests get the funds to spew their hatred. According to Rush the largest benefactor of Black Lives Matter is George Soros, who he accurately described as: “A very extreme, angry and mean-spirited liberal who is doing his best to destroy capitalism wherever it is in the world.” Rush went on to tell the caller that Soros has contributed an astounding $33 million to Black Lives Matter and said: “I’ve learned George Soros has given these people $33 million in the last three or four years, $33 million. ….. What are they using it for? How much does it cost to organize a bunch of malcontents to show up and stand around somewhere with signs and so forth?” Apparently some of that money is being used in St. Marys to bus malcontents in from Savannah. BLM is a vile, dangerous, anti-police organization and I’d advise folks to avoid St. Marys this weekend.
Unplugged or Unhinged? The Sunday, July 10 Life Section of the Florida Times-Union featured a front page story (Unplugged) by TU reporter Jacqueline Persandi that left me feeling sorry for this pathetic young lady whose entire life apparently revolves around staring at her cell phone and sending and reading text messages to family, friends and anyone else who will respond. Based on what she wrote the rest of her time is apparently spent looking up weather reports and watching TV on her electronic devices.
Her article chronicled a recent 72-hour period in this poor creature’s life where she abandoned all of her electronic gear and then gauged her reaction. Based on what she wrote, and the trauma she experienced, I assumed by the end of that article there would be an editor’s note that the 27-year-old electronic junkie had been admitted to an detoxification facility for the electronically addicted.
In the article she admitted that she regretted the withdrawal almost immediately, but also divulged that she had read a 400-page novel during her electronic hiatus. But so what? My 92-year-old friend, Cal Atwood, here on Amelia Island reads two or three of those a week. Want a book recommendation? Then ask Cal. And I have stacks of books in every room of my house, most I’ve read and many I’m still reading. The fact that Ms. Persandi actually read a book and it was reported as news is a sad commentary on today’s society and the TU‘s hiring practices.
Possibly this muddled millennial needs the address of one of the Jacksonville libraries, museums, symphony hall, some of the local parks, concert venues, beaches, biking or hiking trails, etc. Or maybe she needs a new group of friends who don’t sit around and stare at their cell phones and actually have conversations with each other. Instead of thumbing her way through mindless email, Facebook, YouTube, text messages, etc. how about joining a book club, doing charitable work, mentoring a needy kid or visiting an elderly neighbor?
The only real news in this article was to verify the fact that many young people are completely oblivious due to their electronic toys and that’s frightening. I see them daily stumbling around on the streets, bumping into each other, signs, buildings, and other folks while starring at their gizmos. And it’s even more frightening that one of them happens to be a reporter whose job it is to keep the public informed and who is now probably roaming the streets of Jacksonville glued to her cell phone while she searches for imaginary Pokémon creatures.
Dumb & Dumber Department: Until I read the list of charges in the 22-count, 53-page federal indictment against her I thought Jacksonville area Congresswoman (D-FL, 5th Congressional District) Corrine Brown was just loud, stupid and obnoxious. Add “liar” and “crook” to that list. And despite what appears to be an airtight case against this terrible woman she has lemming-like followers who will defend her despite the unbelievable evidence of tax fraud, theft, lying and stealing tax payer and charitable funds for her personal use — among them the chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party, Neil Henrichsen, who apparently is dumber than a barrel of hair. Ms. Brown, who graduated from the same Saul Alinsky and Al Sharpton schools of race baiting, deception and lying as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is, of course, screaming that the charges against her are racially motivated.
Joseph Goebbels would be proud of this fruitcake. The indictment claims that of the more than $800,000 collected by the One-Door educational “charity” only $1,200 went to underprivileged kids for scholarships while tens of thousands of dollars of the money was deposited in this despicable woman’s personal bank account for her use in paying for Caribbean vacations. luxury box seats, and more. Following her court appearance last week folks holding pro-Corrine signs were last seen handing their signs over to a Brown staffer while collecting cash payments. Ms. Brown says the charges are part of a witch hunt, and she may be correct, as it appears they have successfully snared the witch. And the folks that continue to look the other way are the same ones who will vote for Hillary Clinton this fall. Once the Corrine Brown debacle is finally over that leaves just two more national embarrassing stains on Florida’s Congressional delegation that need to be removed — Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-F, 23rd Congressional District) and Alan Grayson (D-F, 9th Congressional District).
What’s Wrong With This Picture? If I was a policeman of any race, I’d think twice before I responded to a call in a predominately black neighborhood these days after what Black Lives Matter and Barack Obama have done to discredit the police across the country and instigate anti-police attitudes and the assassination of police among the black community. I’d also be looking for another line of work. The Associated Press reported that police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were followed by calls from black militant groups and others to seek vengeance against officers. And is it just me or has anyone else noticed that during an Obama speech following a black person being killed by a policeman it is always the policeman’s fault and when policemen are assassinated by blacks it is always the gun’s fault. And when blacks kill blacks it isn’t even mentioned. Looking at the TV coverage of the Dallas murder of five policemen and the wounding of seven more I saw hundreds of “Black Lives Matter” protestors running away from the gunfire while Dallas police officers were running toward it in an attempt to protect the BLM protestors. The same day Black Lives Matter cretins in Oakland were chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” while the same group caused chaos in Atlanta, Phoenix and other U.S. cities following the Dallas’ murders. And later there were news reports of more police being ambushed in Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia. According to the Wall Street Journal a number of law enforcement agencies are blaming Obama for the racial tensions between minorities and police that lead to police shootings. At the rate he’s going the country’s first black president’s legacy will be nationwide anarchy and a race war.
Politics & Golf: Canadian cousin, Bill, sent me the following notice: “There will no longer be a penalty stoke for hitting a ball into the water or out of bounds. The USGA, the R&A, and the PGA, after a private meeting with Hillary Clinton and James Comey, have recommended that your opponent must prove that you intended to hit the ball into these hazards in order for there to be a penalty. Carelessness or ignorance is not intent.”
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: This Sunday at the South 3rs Street Green Turtle Tavern there will be the second annual reunion of The Honey Badgers from 2- 6 p.m. featuring former island resident Hupp Hupmann. At the same time The Turtle is also hosting the charity event “Christmas in July” to support the “Joy to the Children” project – bring a new and unopened toy along for the kids n exchange for a cold beer. Check ’em out at www.joytothechildren.org.