New fish and steaks restaurant to replace former Wine Cellar downtown

City Grille Raw Bar

August 8, 2022

After sitting vacant for six months with the closure of the former Wine Cellar restaurant, the 4,200-square-foot space on the Southbank is becoming City Grille and Raw Bar, a restaurant serving fresh fish and steaks.


John Nagy will own the restaurant in the fall with his wife, Karen Belloit Thomas. They also own Eleven South and 3 Palms Grille, restaurants at Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedre Beach, respectively.


Nagy said City Grille will source high-quality ingredients similar to Eleven South, though City Grille will probably have a smaller offering of lunch and dinner cuisine and “a significant raw bar” offering “big-city style raw-food cuisine” — oysters, tartares, and so on — in its place.


As a Beaches restaurateur, Nagy said he felt there was a market among patrons of Eleven South and 3 Palms who live in the downtown area or urban core. While they might desire the ambiance and cuisine those restaurants offer, they might prefer not to drive out to the beach every time to get it.


He also said all the renovation and revitalization in the area — new infrastructure projects, including residential buildings going up, among other things — made him and Belloit Thomas view this as the perfect time and place to open their restaurant.


“Nothing better than a product that people really want and they can walk to get it,” said Nagy, who lives with Belloit Thomas in the Riverside area.


While he didn’t want to go into detail on City Grille’s exact plans, Nagy said he and Belloit Thomas were well aware of the recent spike in fish and beef prices. He felt confident they could “redesign” their dishes to “take advantage of what’s available at a particular price, integrate that into a dish and design our way out of the food cost.


“We’ve been doing our best to put value on the plate by not being afraid to redesign food on the fly,” he added.


Though official hours are forthcoming, City Grille is expected to be open six days a week for lunch and dinner with a brunch offering on the weekend. The restaurant will have 150 seats and will hire 50-65 staff members, positions for which will be promoted within the restaurant group that includes Eleven South and 3 Palms.