Category Archives: Food & Drink

Downtown Clubs, Eateries Ready to Ring In 2017

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Gainesville’s official New Year’s Eve party returns to Bo Diddley Plaza this year, but several clubs and restaurants will also have special celebrations as we say goodbye to 2016.


There will be a full range of food and entertainment options available on Saturday night as downtown Gainesville prepares to ring in the new year.

Most of the activity will be centered around Bo Diddley Plaza, where The Couch Messiahs and Wild Blue Yonder will provide a free concert beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing past midnight.

The Couch Messiahs

Here is a list of New Year’s Eve events in downtown Gainesville:

Downtown Countdown: The Couch Messiahs, a Gainesville-based rock-and-roll band, will pay tribute to the music of The Allman Brothers, The Band, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones during a New Year’s Eve celebration concert at Bo Diddley Plaza, 111 E. University Ave. The evening begins at 9 p.m. with a performance by popular local band Wild Blue Yonder. Downtown Countdown begins at 9 p.m. and continues until midnight, when there will be a countdown to the New Year, along with the sounds of noisemakers, which are passed out to the audience earlier in the evening. The event is sponsored by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department and WIND-FM. For further info on the concert, read our University & Main blog. Continue reading

First Magnitude Fundraiser Aids Satchel’s Crew

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The downtown brewery is stepping up to the plate this holiday season by throwing a benefit concert on Friday to help three employees whose jobs went up in flames during a recent fire behind Satchel’s Pizza.


The former site of Lightnin’ Salvage. (Photo courtesy of Satchel’s Pizza)

Longtime customers at Satchel’s Pizza recognize Jordan Borstelmann as the bartender donning a kilt, a bushy beard and a huge smile. For more than five years, he poured drinks and served food in Lightnin’ Salvage, the entertainment venue and gift shop/toy store situated directly behind the Gainesville pizza joint at 1800 NE 23rd Ave.

On Monday, Dec. 5, a fire engulfed Lightnin’ Salvage and destroyed one of Gainesville’s most iconic hangout spots, where collections of dead butterflies and pine cones shared a home with artwork made from recycled cameras, cellphones and other household items.

The blaze, which occurred when the restaurant was closed, also left Borstelmann, 36, and fellow Satchel’s employees Danny Lore and Judy Keathley out of jobs.

However, thanks to the generosity of First Magnitude Brewing Co., Borstelmann and his co-workers should still be able to enjoy the holiday season and beyond.

On Friday from 4-10 p.m., the brewery at 1220 SE Veitch St. will sponsor a benefit concert to raise funds for the three Satchel’s employees while Lightnin’ Salvage is being rebuilt.

“It’s a little surreal,” Borstelmann said. “You don’t stop to realize how much people care until something like this happens.”

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Gourmet Sandwich Shop Keeping It All in Family

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Three longtime Gainesville area chefs — all related — are combining their talents to open Piper Gi’s, specializing in hand-crafted soups and sandwiches. The restaurant will open for business in mid-December.


From left, Jacon Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gis. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

From left, Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gi’s. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Take three chefs with almost 50 years combined culinary experience, put them together in a restaurant kitchen with quality ingredients and their imaginations, and — voila! — you have the recipe for success.

At least that is what Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and Shanti Riesch-Newman anticipate when they open Piper Gi’s later this month at 204 SW 2nd Ave., next door to High Dive. Riesch-Newman said the eatery is shooting for a Dec. 14 soft opening and a Dec. 15 grand opening.

The carryout restaurant, with a tropical decor that extends to its pastel-colored picnic tables, will specialize in hand-crafted sandwiches, soups, salads and side dishes.

“I would say that we’re bringing the love back to sandwiches and the love back to food and to actual cooking,” said Shanti Riesch-Newman, executive chef at Emiliano’s Cafe for the past five and a half years.

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Giving Thanks Where Thanks is Due

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thanksHave you taken a look around downtown Gainesville lately? New eateries and other small businesses are opening on an almost-weekly basis. Fascinating exhibits are on display at museums and galleries. Memorable performances are taking place at local theaters.

There is also excitement in the air with the opening of Depot Park and the reopening of Bo Diddley Plaza this year. People are gathering downtown like never before.

Simply put, downtown Gainesville is a better place today than it was a year ago not because of large corporations and big money, but because of individuals who are passionate about what they do.

Today we recognize some of the individuals who have made and continue to make downtown Gainesville worth visiting and enjoying. (We have listed them alphabetically so as not to show favoritism, but we love them all!)

If we have left someone out, our apologies. Please let us know who also deserves our thanks! Continue reading

Final Weekend Ahead for Market Street Pub

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The bar and nightclub on Southwest 1st Avenue will close its doors following Saturday night’s one final burlesque show.


dscn3055The owners of Market Street Pub & Cabaret, home to weekly burlesque shows and an eclectic mix of other entertainment for the past two years, have decided not to renew their lease.

The club at 112 SW 1st Ave., next door to Loosey’s, will close Saturday night after the Market Street Revue burlesque troupe performs one final time under that name.

“It’s going to be sad,” said Market Street Pub co-owner Tony Grezlik, who said it cost upward of $10,000 a month to run the place. “Money is the biggest issue.”

Grezlik and Jill Dumas took over the location in March 2015 and were determined to take the historic building and create a bar space where performance art thrived. They succeeded by lining up burlesque acts, circus sideshow acts, aerialists, magicians, puppeteers, comedians, live bands and singing troupes.

The only problem, Grezlik said, was that people generally visited Market Street Pub only during shows and didn’t patronize the bar at other times. Karaoke and trivia nights never generated strong interest. Also, a weekly comedy show struggled to find an audience.

“If we didn’t have a show, that space did not make money,” he said.

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Alpin, Tamal Add Flavor to Local Restaurant Scene

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Are you sure about building that wall? In the past two weeks, a pair of family-owned eateries have expanded downtown Gainesville’s dining options well beyond our borders. 


Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli in front of their former food cart at Tamal. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli behind their former food cart at Tamal. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Unbeknownst to each other, two determined couples spent the long, hot summer putting love, sweat and tears into a pair of dining establishments that are now helping to give downtown Gainesville more of an international flair.

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Alpin, a French bistro owned by Romain and Sita Marlier Challandes, opened earlier this month at 15 SW 2nd St., in a space formerly occupied by the Motor Room lounge.

Tamal, a storefront tamale shop owned by Nicholas and Rachel Iannelli, is now open for business four days a week at 439 Main St., in the complex that also includes the Civic Media Center and Wild Iris Books.

“This is Mom and Pop comfort food — nothing fancy,” Rachel Iannelli said about her 15-seat eatery that opens at noon Thursday through Sunday and closes each day whenever the last tamale is sold.

During the first two weeks of operation, Tamal has sold out of that day’s supplies of handmade tamales by 5 p.m.

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New Pizza Restaurant Spelled V for Victorious

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V Pizza, which opened last week in a prime spot in downtown Gainesville, has gone to great lengths to bring authentic Neapolitan-style pizza to town. All the way to Italy, in fact.


Executive Chef Matt Kepp in front of one of two wood-fired ovens at V Pizza Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Executive Chef Matt Kepp in front of one of two wood-fired ovens at V Pizza (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Most everyone can agree that Gainesville has its share of pretty decent pizza joints. After all, this is a college town, where pizza plays an essential role at the top of many students’ food pyramid.

Now we’re pleased to report that downtown Gainesville has a great pizza restaurant.

A pepperoni pizza from V Pizza.

A pepperoni pizza from V Pizza.

V Pizza is the new guy on the block, and it’s a premium location at 115 SE 1st St., on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn in the large, open space formerly occupied by Vello’s.

“When you think of pizza, you think of greasy and fattening, right?” said Matt Kepp, executive chef for V Pizza. “With our pizza, you can eat the whole pie and feel good about eating it.”

That’s because V Pizza uses only premium ingredients with no preservatives and chemicals. Better yet, the dough, cheese, tomato sauce and most other toppings have Italian connections.

And everything the restaurant cooks, including piping-hot calzone and stromboli, is baked in massive wood-fired ovens made from clay molds and soil from the base of Mount Vesuvius. Yes, that Mount Vesuvius!

“We get the ovens up to 900 degrees, and that allows us to cook our pizzas in 90 seconds,” Kepp said. “The intense heat allows the pizza dough to puff up and become nice and airy. It all translates into great flavor.”

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