Progress at Publix, East San Marco making strides

Construction continues as the plans for the long-awaited East San Marco shopping center nears completion at Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

Patrick McKinley, the Regency Centers VP and market officer overseeing the project said in an e-mail, “We are approaching the final stages of the buildout, where we can then turn over the spaces to Publix and our incoming merchants for them to perform their own interior work.”

The nearly 60,000 square-foot shopping center will be anchored by a Publix grocery store and will host additional shops, including shopping and dining options. Tenants of the anticipated shopping center include Orangetheory Fitness, Foxtail Coffee and Gemma Fish & Oyster — a new restaurant launched by owners of St. Johns County’s Ember & Iron.

While Ember & Iron’s menu focuses primarily on the restaurant’s live hearth grill, co-owner Brittany Cooney said Gemma Fish & Oyster will have a different flare and different focus — namely, seafood with an emphasis on the oyster.

At the oyster bar, guests can select from the six to eight daily fresh oyster offerings in various quantities — “one, two, 12, 24, whatever you want,” Cooney added.

While the main menu — still being determined — will include meat options, and the restaurant it-self will have an open-fire grill, Cooney explained that Gemma will have a heavy seafood influence “with a worldly approach.” This involves moving away from typical southern seafood meals like shrimp and grits, she said, although a southern influence will still be there.

Cooney added she has no doubt chef and co-owner Michael Cooney “will bring all the noise when it comes to food, I’m so excited.”

According to developer Regency Center’s website, the 6,500 square-foot space will offer rooftop seating in addition to the oyster bar, which Cooney explained will be a “big highlight” of the restaurant.

Cooney said she welcomes the opportunity to become part of the San Marco neighborhood and weave into the fabric of the community.

“It just goes way back,” Cooney said. “My dad has stories of going to the square with his mom, my grandma. And so I want to be part of that story with other people coming up, raising their families in San Marco or even older generations, giving them something a little bit different, different offerings they may not find in the square typically. We’re really excited to try to bring something a little bit different and just be in a new space.”

Per Cooney, Gemma Fish & Oyster is scheduled to open in Spring 2023.

According to the Regency online brochure, other tenants of East San Marco shopping center include Crumbl Cookie, St. Johns Eye Associates and Publix Liquors with one remaining space available.

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