2010 U.S. Open Champion and four-time Ryder Cup golfer Graeme McDowel’s Nona Blue Modern Tavern is expanding to Ponte Vedra Beach’s newly redeveloped Sawgrass Village in the spring of 2016. After experiencing success in Orlando’s Lake Nona area, the founders of the restaurant and bar set their sights on Ponte Vedra because of TPC Sawgrass and the area’s home status for the PGA Tour, according to a release.
“My family and I love spending time in Ponte Vedra Beach when I compete at The Players,” said McDowell, who won the OHL Classic in Mexico on Monday. “I’m thrilled to expand Nona Blue to such a beautiful city with so much golf heritage. We considered many options for our second location, but I can’t think of a better place to bring our restaurant. We’re looking forward to welcoming the residents of Ponte Vedra Beach and the many visitors to the area when we open in 2016.”
“We embrace the spirit of a neighborhood tavern – a place where you always feel at home and comfortable whether you’re right off the course, hanging with friends or having dinner out with family,” said Joe Davi, one of the founding partners and veteran restauranteur. “We then polished and modernized the traditional tavern concept by elevating the food service to a level that could rival a more formal dining experience.”
Davi has 13 years of experience with the regional management of J. Alexander’s, including opening the one located at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville in 2007. Davi combined forces with Bill Bona, whose family owned a popular restaurant and bar in Celebration, Fla., to develop a new restaurant concept for Central Florida.
“Our goal was to create a restaurant with high quality food and the social tavern atmosphere of the Celebration property,” said Davi. “Hardwood grill, cooked over hickory. Smell the grill, see the centerpiece bar.”
Davi and Bona approached Graeme McDowell with the idea. McDowell suggested they bring the concept to the Lake Nona area.
“The Lake Nona Area, which I live in, is a quite underdeveloped part of town,” McDowell said in an interview last year. “I’ve been there for eight years on and off. Any time we want a nice glass of wine and a nice steak, we’ve got to jump in the car and drive 30 minutes. So the area was crying out for something.”
After the meeting between McDowell, Davi and Bona, they opened Nona Blue in 2013. Since opening, Nona Blue has won dining awards and wine list awards in Orlando, including a Foodie award from Orlando Sentinel nine months after opening.
“We won best burger, best newcomer, best wine list, best bar menu, best outdoor dining,” Davi said proudly.
“We cook the cheeseburgers, and Graeme hits the golf balls. With his exposure worldwide, we have guests from around the world who are exposed to him. He really has a huge fan base. We doubled our expectations.”
Nona Blue will be located in a waterfront, free-standing building at the front of the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center, facing A1A.
It will occupy 7,148 square feet of indoor space and 1,564 square feet outdoors. The tavern will have close to 300 seats.