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Jacksonville’s King Street Beer District infographic

Lately I have been really into infographics. I love the way they can convey a lot of information in an easy to understand format. In the spirit of these fun graphics, I have created the image below for your enjoyment. I hope you like it and will share it with your friends.King_Street_Infographic

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Infographic

 

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Sweetwater Brewing Hosting Pub Crawl to Benefit St. Johns River Sunday

The St. Johns River Keepers are a group of concerned people who raise awareness for issues that affect the river that runs through the heart of Jacksonville. For ten years they have been responsible for many efforts to educate the public and stop the abuse of the city’s number one natural asset. To help in the cause, Sweetwater Brewing is hosting a pub crawl that begins at O’Brother’s in Riverside at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 3.

Sponsored by the young professionals group associated with the Riverkeepers, the Rising Tide, the pub crawl is meant to show support for the establishments that are supporting the organization’s cause. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend, restaurants and bars throughout the Jacksonville area began selling paper fish in $1.00, $5.00, or $10.00 denominations. Proceeds from the sale of the fish will go directly to help fund programs of the Riverkeepers. The contest will end on Independence Day.

The pub crawl will take crawlers to several of the establishments selling the fish in the Riverside/Avondale area. The crawl begins at O’Brother’s and visits Grassroots for a sampling table, Birdie’s on Park in 5 Points, then up to Kickbacks, European Street, The Rogue, and ends at The Garage.

A suggested donation to participate is $5.00 (free for dues paying members of Rising Tides). For your donation you will receive a wrist band and pick up a raffle ticket for every Sweetwater brew and paper fish you purchase during the crawl. A raffle for great prizes will be held at The Garage.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Craft Beer Brewery, Events

 

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Jax Beer Week Off to a Rollicking Start

A lively and raucous gathered at Kickback’s last night to get Jacksonville Beer Week underway. Congregated around the tables of the beer wonderland where luminaries from many of the local breweries including Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works, and Eric Luman of Green Room Brewing. Presiding over all was the omnipresent and always gracious Steve Flores, owner of Kickback’s.

Beers were drank, stories were told, and friends kept pouring in. It was one of the nights were brewery staff and brewery fans sat as equals and celebrated the Jacksonville’s good fortune to have such a vibrant and exciting beer scene. All of my favorite bartenders from Intuition were there; Lindsey, Hannah, Robin, and Tap Room manager Brian. Also from Intuition were brewer Andrew and business manager Cari. From Green Room, I briefly spoke with Bar Manager Jason, and the before mentioned brewer and owner, Eric.

The favored beer of the night was a craftily tucked away keg of Intuition Underdark. This delicious creation was first introduced for the first anniversary party or Intuition, but Steve – astute as he is – hid a keg away for a rainy day or exuberant Jax Beer Week crowd. The brew is nearly jet black with a wonderful brown head redolent with caramel, coffee, and bourbon aromas. The mouthfeel is thick and smooth as silk, flavored with roasty malts, coffee, chocolate, and bourbon. The brew is a rare treat that was perfectly appropriate for the celebration.

Jax Brew Week is definitely off to a good start and with at least a dozen more events before the close of the week, there is no reason you cannot get out and enjoy at least one. Now, go forth and enjoy good local beer!

 

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Kickback’s, Bold Bean Kick Off Jax Beer Week

Jacksonville Beer Week is finally here and there are a lot of unbelievably cool events taking place all over town. No longer do Jacksonvillians (Jacksonvillites?) have to travel to other cities for a quality beer week. From this moment on we can triumphantly pronounce that we, the people of Jacksonville have our own spectacular beer week, and we are darned proud of it!

Each day this week I will add a post with the events happening that day. Believe me when I say, there are some truly amazing events happening.

To kick things off tonight what better place is there than the beer capitol of Jacksonville, Kickback’s Gastropub in Riverside/Avondale? Steve Flores owner and beer connoisseur – freshly returned from Belgium — is putting 15 beers from local brewers on tap tonight for local beer night; five each from Intuition Ale Works, Bold City Brewing, and Green Room Brewery. And to top that, each will be sold at happy hour prices all day! Look for visits from brewery reps as well as distributors, too!

Not to be outdone, Bold Bean Coffee in Riverside is offering $4 pints of local and coffee-inspired beers all week. Look for the special series of beers brewed by Bold City Brewing, it’s a knockout!

Watch for my post tomorrow with the events happening tomorrow night. You don’t want to miss a single one!

 

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Kickback’s a King Street Institution

Ten years ago your good beer choices in Jacksonville were restricted. You had a choice of going to any neighborhood bar and slugging back a bottle of watered-down, tasteless brews brought to you by the mega-breweries, or you could go to River City Brewing Company on the south bank for something a little better and definitely local brewed. Back then Ragtime was open in Atlantic Beach and Seven Bridges had beers on Southside Boulevard – but, they are corporately owned by the same company that runs the Gordon-Biersch restaurants. So, I say again, good beer was very hard to find in Jacksonville.

Fast forward to 2012 and your choices have literally exploded. There are literally scores of restaurants around the First Coast serving quality craft beer both on tap and by the bottle from the beaches to the west side. Nothing illustrates this explosion of craft beer goodness than the King Street district of Riverside/Avondale. This once blighted and crime-ridden area of Jacksonville was the home of corner drug dealers and prostitutes. But, over the past few years the area has been transformed by an influx of beer-centric, restaurant, and entertainment venues. It is no longer a scary area of town, it is now an area some are dubbing; The King Street Brewery District.

The area’s transition from drug-infested Hell hole to bustling entertainment district seemed to hit high gear when in 2005 Kickback’s appeared and a new standard was set for the area. At a recent city Land Use and Zoning committee hearing, the owners of Kickback’s emphasized the struggles they endured during the first months of the establishment being open. Steve Flores, one the owners, recounted tales of chasing drug dealers down alleys, over fences, and through streets to rid them from near his property.

Today Kickback’s serves as an anchor for the busy district. Most evenings you will find the establishment buzzing with conversation and full of patrons enjoying some of the 84 beers on tap and hundreds of bottled beers available. The food brings the crowds in too, though. With an eclectic mix of comfort foods (they have Ramen Noodles, Spaghetti O’s, and corn dogs on the menu along with more traditional fare) and pub fare all served with a home-cooked feel. But, it is not just the food and drink that pack the crowds into this King Street institution. People come for the ambience, the sense of belonging, the knowledgeable staff, and the cheerful attitudes.

On weekends, Kickback’s is a hive of activity and, at times, a challenge to get into. The packed interior is filled with a cacophony of voices all talking, laughing, and enjoying the weekend. Navigation from one side of the pub to the other is a bit of a challenge too, since the tables are so close together and always full. Around midnight, an influx of partiers arrives from nearby restaurants and breweries. Most are only open until 11:00 or midnight at the latest. And since the King Street community of workers, residents, and regulars is so tight knit, a new round of hellos, handshakes, and squeals of delight at seeing old friends follows the influx.

The interior of Kickback’s is a shrine to the marketing of the world’s favorite beverage, beer. The walls are lined with empty beer bottles hanging from eye-bolts and strung on rods. Other walls are festooned with metal beer signs, rock memorabilia, and a large chalkboard listing all the beers currently available on tap. From the rafters, hundreds of tap handles hang from threads embedded in the exposed wooden beams. The doors are heavy, carved wood reminiscent of the type of doors you would find in Europe’s oldest Public Houses. The bar is packed with the 84 tap handles and spigots that have made Kickback’s a favorite among beer freaks.

At any time one could enter into the beer Nirvana on King Street and find several hard-to-find brews such as HopSlam from Bell’s or Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. You may find an interesting import like Schneider Weisse Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin, a special edition brew created in Germany for ABT Cafes in Holland. Or, since Flores is a Belgian beer enthusiast, you might an exceptional Belgian like Kasteel Cuvee Du Chateau.

In the near future the owners of Kickback’s, Flores and business partner Ed Salem, are planning on building a new restaurant next door to the existing establishment. The new place will sport a Steam Punk theme and share an expanded kitchen with Kickback’s. In addition the restaurant, named Gooslepipes and Guttyworks, will feature a separate Belgian basement bar and beer storage catacombs.

In the long history of exceptional beer bas and pubs that have come and gone in the city of Jacksonville, Kickback’s has all the signs of being one with real staying power. Flores and Salem have built something special, a magical place that makes patrons feel welcome. If the enthusiastic crowds that pack into it are indication, the new restaurant will do just as well. We sure hope so.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Beer, Food, Pubs, Relaxing, Restaurant

 

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Kickback’s Gastropub Needs Your Help

For several years now I have been visiting this beer emporium on King St. I bring all of my friends and family there when they visit from out of town. I go in for lunch, for dates, for late-night snacks, football on Sundays, beers with “The Gang,” and for an after-work beer. Kickback’s is a home-away-from-home. It is an Oasis of comforting food, great people, and outstanding beer. This is a business that is well-respected, run by conscientious management, and is an asset to the community. And now they need our help.

There are those who do not see the upcoming expansion plans of a successful business as complimentary to their way of life. There is a self-appointed, self-righteous, quasi-HOA trying to impose their will on a business that has been nothing but good for the neighborhood. Indeed, Kickback’s has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the King Street corridor. Without the vision of Steve Flores and the other owners of this establishment, King Street may well have slipped into obscurity and been devoured by urban decay. Instead, it is a bustling hub of activity drawing new entertainment and dining choices for a city in dire need of both.

Please read the letter from my good friends at Kickback’s posted below. Do what you can to help them through this situation.

“Kickbacks Gastropub As many of you know, we are in the final stages of planning a new restaurant next door to Kickbacks called Goozlepipe & Guttyworks. Hundreds of you have asked how you can help and here is your chance…

The city’s planning and zoning department is overwhelmingly in support of our project and the city’s planning commission voted unanimously in October to grant us a parking deviation that we needed.

The Riverside Avondale Preservation Association (RAP) has filed an appeal of the planning commission’s decision to the Land Use Committee of the City Council (LUZ) and is attempting to make our project a political issue. They have been knocking on doors, sending emails, making phone calls, flyering the neighborhood, starting on-line petitions and engaging in an all out campaign of lies and distortion in an effort to win the support of the neighborhood and the city council. RAP wants to be the voice of the neighborhood, they want to represent YOU. We feel that RAP can have a voice…their OWN voice. They can represent themselves and their members but they aren’t the voice of the public. The public fills our seats every day and night, our neighbors come by car, foot, bike, shuttle, cab, stroller, rickshaw and skateboard.

Just so we are clear, we are building another restaurant. One that the neighborhood can be proud of, that families and people of all ages can enjoy. A new restaurant that will create 35 new jobs within the neighborhood. We are not building a strip club, night club or pool hall.

In the worst economy in any of our lifetimes, we plan to invest over $1,000,000 in a commercial corridor that most people agree was stimulated by our original investment of money, time, blood, sweat and tears over 6 years ago.

A few years ago, a “zoning overlay” was written and introduced covering most of our neighborhood. The intent of the overlay was to allow any restaurant to open in any existing contributing structure in Riverside/Avondale without having to provide ANY parking spaces. The overlay also gave a 50% parking reduction to any new construction in the neighborhood. We are tearing down a non-contributing duplex next door and building new construction. According to the overlay, we would have to provide 19 or 33 parking spaces, depending on your interpretation of the technical language within. We are providing only 8 new parking spaces, but they technically don’t count because they are in our alley. The city planners recognized that it would be physically impossible to provide this many spaces and after considering a list of mitigating circumstances, allowed the exception. If we built a parking lot instead of a new building, we could only build 8-10 parking spaces on the entire lot.

There is an increasingly long list of restaurants that are planned or have opened in the King St. district since we first proposed this project. Pele’s, Carmines will open a new restaurant in the Jackson’s space, The Garage, Dahlia’s Pour House, Alpha Dog…and more coming. That’s just in the last 9 months. What do they all have in common? None of them are new construction and therefore none of them had to provide ANY parking! RAP wants to “protect the neighborhood” from our customers but has zero concern for the cumulative effect of all the other restaurants? That makes no sense. The overlay was written such that every single building can be a restaurant, of varying sizes, and none of them need to provide any parking. RAP has no concern for the parking and traffic generated by businesses in old buildings but only wants to “protect the neighborhood” from the one business constructing a new building? They call our project “irresponsible”! They say our customers urinate in peoples yards, litter and block driveways…have any of you done that? Is it possible that these people are coming from other businesses?

Despite the fact that we were granted the parking deviation, we continue to work on providing parking solutions for our customers and for the district as a whole. We recognize that we will not succeed as a business if people can not make it to our front door safely.

What can you do to help? Plenty. We’ve resisted your offers for months out of respect for your time and the time of the LUZ. We are now asking you to let the LUZ know how you feel about our project. We want you to email them (please cc us) and call them. We want you to show up at our next public hearing on February 22nd at 5pm at City Hall. Please send us your contact information and let us know if you u can make it!

Reginald Brown- Chair RBrown@coj.net 630-1684

Ray Holt- Vice Chair Holt@coj.net 630-1380

Lori Boyer LBoyer@coj.net 630-1382

Doyle Carter doylec@coj.net 630-1380

Jim Love JimLove@coj.net 630-1390

Robin Lumb RLumb@coj.net 630-1387

Don Redman Redman@coj.net 630-1394

Stephen Joost Joost@coj.net Phone: (904) 630-1396

Kickbacks Gastropub Kickbacks@comcast.net 388-9551

The subject line can be Kickbacks Gastropub/Goozlepipe & Guttyworks “Zoning Exception and Administrative Deviation E-11-54 & AD-11-58”

It can be a bit confusing, so let me be clear. If you are in support of the new restaurant, then you are against the appeal.

We have supported RAP throughout our careers, and will continue to do so, but we feel that their efforts should focus on preserving contributing buildings. Despite the fact that their support and membership have plummeted in recent years, they have a very loud voice and have focussed considerable time and financial resources on trying to stop our project.

As a small business owner in Jacksonville we are deeply disturbed by the appeal that has been filed by RAP. With the difficult economic times we all face and the existing regulations imposed by the city, the last thing we need is a glorified homeowners association telling the city how to run the city government. The planning Commission is a group of professionals that have been appointed to make these decisions. Small businesses have a hard enough time providing jobs for this great community. Please ask the LUZ to vote no on the appeal and allow the new restaurant to be built without further delay.

Please call or write with any questions. We are happy to speak with you or meet with you anytime.

Thank you so much.”

This is your rallying call! Write those letters, make those calls, and show up at City Hall on February 22 at 5:00 PM. Let’s support our local businesses instead of hampering their growth and success.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Beer, Pubs, Restaurant

 

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Kickback’s Expansion Details

The King Street corridor in the Riverside/Avondale has become a real beer destination. With two breweries, Pele’s Wood Fire boasting 50 taps, Kickback’s with 84 taps, European Street, Dahlia’s Pour House opening soon with 50 taps, and at least two other destinations opening soon, if you cannot find a good beer to drink in that area, you are not trying very hard.

A few months ago, I wrote about the Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner held at Kickback’s. I also mentioned that during that dinner Steve Flores, the owner of Kickback’s, announced his plans for a new restaurant to the immediate left of his current establishment. Today the Florida Times-Union is running an article on their website — http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-01-23/story/kickbacks-expansion-fuels-riverside-controversy — about the new eatery with details that sound very interesting indeed.

The main article at the link above details a controversy going on with Riverside Avondale Preservation. I will not go into that here; you can read that part of the article if you want. But, the new place Steve has planned does sound amazing. I cannot wait to claim my throne in the Belgian bar.

Roger Bull, of the Times-Union writes this about the new place:

Here’s what the owners have planned for the new restaurant next door to Kickbacks Gastropub:

Two stories and a basement for a total of about 10,000 square feet, with a kitchen that Kickbacks will share.

It’ll have 249 seats. Seventy-six of the seats will be outside, including 24 on the sidewalk and 52 on the front covered patio.

The basement will be a Belgian beer bar with 50 seats.

The food, Steve Flores said, will have “75 items from around the world that haven’t been seen much on a menu in Jacksonville.”

He mentioned five flavors of moules-frites (that’s mussels and fries for those who haven’t seen it on a menu before) along with vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Much of the emphasis will be on beer. Kickbacks already has 84 on draft and more than 600 in bottles.

The downstairs bar will be for serious sipping and there will be storage for 1,000 kegs.

“I don’t think Dogfish 120 should be served until it’s at least five years old,” Flores said, “so I’ll store it at least that long.”

For me, this place cannot open fast enough! The food sounds awesome – true Belgian fare in Jacksonville? Yes please! A dedicated Belgian basement? It may be in a basement, but – as a Belgian beer lover and some say expert – it will be heaven for me.

Jacksonville is growing up. We are finally getting the kinds of restaurants and entertainment options other cities have enjoyed for years. And, as far as beer culture, we are nearly afloat in it.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Beer, Belgian, Pubs, Restaurant

 

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