Two months ago, several local restaurant owners decided to do something to level the playing field with the onslaught of larger, chain restaurants who promote themselves in St. Augustine.
According to records filed with the Florida Division of Corporations, Ted McLemore of Zhanraâ€™s and South Beach Grill joined Lorna McDonald owner of the Raintree Restaurant, Pat Morrissey owner of Gypsy Cab Co, Chris Way owner of Barnacle Bills as well as Michael McMillan owner of Opus 39 and the Tasting Room, to form The St. Augustine Independent Restaurant Association, Inc.
The non-profit association is organized for the purpose of representing the interests of independently owned local restaurants in St. Johns County, Florida.
The group has come together to enhance the visibility of local dining establishments who, they feel, provide St. Augustine with culinary and cultural diversity.
The goal of the association of restaurants is to get local people to think about them when they are deciding where they are going to eat. Some members of the group feel that the larger chains have taken away the ambiance offered by the â€œlocal eateriesâ€ that once made up the character of St. Augustine.
If the organization is successful, more residents will return to the local restaurants, so they are undertaking an advertising and promotional campaign to get the word out.
Working with community groups like the St. Augustine Art Walk, Uptown Saturday Night and EPIC Community Services, the restaurant owners are committed to working together on an updated website, advertising initiatives and expanding the associationâ€™s member base.
More information is available at the St. Augustine Independent Restaurant Association website.