New St. Augustine restaurants opening despite COVID-19 hardships

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Pandemic or not, St. Augustine’s booming restaurant industry cannot be stopped.

Even as the virus forced many long-standing restaurants in the area to permanently shut their doors - new eateries are popping up. These innovative restaurants are eager to feed locals coming out of their (very hungry) pandemic hibernations. One thing is for sure, not even COVID-19 can stop good food from reaching eager appetites.

Following the tail of the recent lift on dining restrictions, Culinary Outfitters Waterfront, a “upscale, yet affordable” seafood restaurant opened earlier this month at the St. Augustine Shipyards. Chase Pritchard, chef and owner, said he wanted to make a restaurant St. Augustine hasn’t seen before.

The location features an extensive wine menu and entrees including Sourdough Crusted Snapper, Miso Painted Striped Bass and a Buttermilk Pie for dessert. Guests can relax by the outdoor fire pits and live music or watch boats come in and out of the 85 docking spots by the restaurant.

Prior to COVID-19, Bozard Ford Co. bought the closed Gander Mountain store at St. Augustine’s Indoor Mall to expand its dealership and include the dining amenity, Ford’s Garage, that will be open to the public. The dealership announced via YouTube last year that the restaurant would open, and it’s set Sept. 24 for a grand opening.

The restaurant is designed as a “prohibition-style” bar with 1920s service station décor restaurant, including Ford vehicles, gas pumps and fixtures. The menu features classic burger joint fare, including Angus beef patties with gourmet toppings and “comfort” mac and cheeses. A full bar with an even fuller craft beer selection is expected, as well.

Currently, Ford’s Garage has 12 other locations in Florida, including Orlando, St. Petersburg and Fort Myers.

Edwin Baltzley, current owner of the St. Augustine Amphitheater’s Bullet food truck, is opening a new “family table-style” eatery called Sunday Gathering Table. The cozy restaurant will be open for breakfast and lunch, as well as “small bites” on weekend evenings.

Sunday will be located at 73 San Marco Ave and plans to open its doors tentatively on June 28. The menu will include sandwiches on fresh sourdough and locally sourced salads in a homely, neighborhood-dining-table setting. Baltzley plans on making an official announcement about the restaurant’s opening this weekend.

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