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Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille: Good Meals, Memorabilia, Visors, Ball Performs … and a Sport Plan

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Because the touring get together of three bounced from one spacious room to the subsequent, Steve Spurrier was reminded of an concept that had come to him not too long ago. An addition for the bar upstairs. His bar at his restaurant. Spurrier pitched it to Freddie Wehbe, managing companion. 

“Hey Freddie! Let’s get a chair that claims ‘HBC’ and put it there on the bar subsequent to at least one that claims ‘Mrs. HBC,’ and folks can sit there with their spouse or girlfriend,” the “Head Ball Coach” mentioned. “Then they’ll say, ‘Hey, we sat within the HBC chairs!’ “

His chairs. 

With a caveat. 

“But when I am coming in that evening, I will name forward and let ’em know,” Spurrier added. “I am gonna need to sit in my chair, proper?” 

Proper. However the HBC additionally is true that the patrons will need to park themselves within the spots reserved for he and spouse Jerri. Within the greater image, soccer followers of all sorts — sure, Florida followers, particularly — are going to need to try Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille, an bold and distinctive consuming and consuming institution within the Celebration Pointe growth simply throughout Interstate-75, tentatively set to open in late July. 

Spanning 18,600-square foot, costing an estimated $11 million, Spurrier’s shall be house to a downstairs restaurant that includes an immersive expertise of elevated eating the likes of which shall be a primary for Gainesville, in addition to an out of doors rooftop bar, referred to as Visors, that may overlook the Celebration Pointe promenade and leisure venue. Memorabilia, together with Spurrier’s 1966 Heisman Trophy, the jersey he wore as College of Florida quarterback his senior yr, the shoe that famously kicked the sector purpose to beat Auburn that 1966 season, a plethora of Southeastern Convention championship stuff from these 12 incomparable seasons teaching the Gators, in addition to images and nostalgic objects both on show all through the joint or woven into the Gator-themed menu. 

Have a seat, people, and benefit from the Ike Hilliard Catch of the Day. Or perhaps the Hen & Wuerffel. And wash it down with one of the fancy specialty drinks, just like the sure-fire, big-seller 52-20. Get it? 

“We have executed every thing proper to succeed,” Wehbe mentioned. “You understand Coach. He did not get into this to fail.” 

The 18,600-square foot restaurant and bar is situated within the increasing Celebration Pointe growth, simply west of Interstate-75.  

It was a decade or so in the past that Spurrier’s daughter, Amy, took measure of the glut of trophies and trinkets his father had gathered through the years — a lot of it scattered and jammed into closets all through their properties in Gainesville, Columbia, S.C. and Crescent Seaside, Fla. — and made an informal suggestion that he wanted a spot to place all of them. 

Like a restaurant. 

Little did she know. 

“That is grander than something my household ever might have dreamed of,” Amy Moody mentioned. “We had been pitching one thing, perhaps in Crescent Seaside, the place issues may very well be on show, however that is 10 instances what we might have imagined.”

Spurrier stepped down as coach at South Carolina in 2015 and eight months later returned to UF as an “ambassador” and advisor for the College Athletic Affiliation. A mere handful of the memorabilia accompanied Spurrier to his small workplace within the third-floor communications division at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, however together with the remaining nonetheless wanted a extra everlasting and applicable house. 

Freddie Wehbe

In time, Spurrier had a dialog with Wehbe, a restaurant entrepreneur who got here to city in 1994, purchased a Domino’s and switch it into 11 shops, making his native pizza enterprise one of the crucial profitable Domino’s franchises within the nation. After promoting his pizza outlets, Wehbe fashioned a advertising and consulting agency and finally approached Celebration Pointe developer and former UF basketball participant Svein Dyrkolbotn, together with native advertising professional Ryan Frankel, to start strategizing the right way to make a Spurrier restaurant not only a actuality, however successful. 

The business, in fact, is excessive danger. There aren’t any ensures, not matter how large the title on the marquee. For each Elway’s (in Denver), Troy’s (as in Aikman, in Dallas), or The Woods (as in Tiger, in Jupiter, Fla.) that succeed, there are 10 instances extra which have gone beneath, together with the likes of Mickey Mantle’s (New York), Harry Carey’s (Chicago), Bernie Kosar’s (Cleveland), Dan Marino’s (South Florida), Bobby Bowden’s (Tallahassee) and Vince Carter’s (Daytona Seaside) Simply final yr, Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto closed its doorways after 27 years, an admirable run. The pandemic additionally was not variety to the Shula’s Steak Home franchises across the nation, together with in Gainesville, with rumors swirling within the business the franchise is on the brink. 

“We have executed every thing to be financially sustainable and profitable. Eating places have a really excessive charge of failure. Superstar eating places have an excellent increased charge of failure,” Wehbe mentioned. “We visited celeb eating places across the nation and abroad the final two years to attempt to study what to do and to not do. Failure is just not an choice.” 

Added Spurrier, now 76: “You have to have a sport plan. We predict we have got one. I wish to say, ‘I haven’t got a lot expertise constructing a foul staff.’ ” 

The restaurant’s elevated-cuisine menu will characteristic a handful of Gator-themed objects. 

Wehbe estimates the advertising staff sank near $1 million into its advance analysis. What it discovered was Gainesville had only a handful of eating places thought-about to be within the high-end, fine-dining class (akin to Mark’s Prime, Embers, Dragonfly, Prime & Pearl, Amelia’s), adopted by a bevy of so-called quick informal choices, akin to Friday’s, Bahama Breeze, Appleby’s and the like. What was lacking was one thing in between. Polished informal, as it’s recognized. One thing large enough, however good sufficient that provided well-liked, elevated delicacies, within the mould of (suppose Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville) Season’s 52, J. Alexander’s and Stonewood Grille & Tavern.

The information additionally confirmed the market lacked a venue massive sufficient to host non-public gatherings, be it for graduations or soccer sport tailgates, and would welcome an out of doors, elevated institution that took benefit of the climate. 

The imaginative and prescient for Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille was hatched. 


Visor’s rooftop bar’s namesake

* Between the downstairs Grille and the rooftop Visors bar, Spurrier’s shall be massive sufficient to accommodate almost 500 patrons and might convert to as many as 5 non-public eating rooms. One of many eating areas, the Lettermen’s Lounge, will double as a museum, with Spurrier’s Heisman (and visitor appearances from Danny Wuerffel’s and Tim Tebow’s trophies, as properly), championship rings, award plaques, and many others. The rooftop bar will overlook Celebration Pointe’s outside promenade and leisure sq. that features an space for dwell music. 

* Advertising and marketing surveys broke down how the Gainesville neighborhood prefers its meals. The menu will replicate as a lot and provide quite a lot of meat, poultry, seafood — all farm-to-table or freshly caught the identical day — and vegetarian dishes. Most entries shall be within the $20 to $35 vary, however there shall be higher-end choices of as much as $60 for what they’re branding as polished American meals, with some worldwide taste sprinkled in. A delegated take-out counter on the facet of the constructing is anticipated to generate a 3rd of the enterprise’s income. Be aware: Do not depart with out an order of Jerri Spurrier’s delicious chocolate chip cookies, the identical ones she used to bake for gamers on their birthdays

* A downstairs, glassed-in studio will host native radio reveals and podcasts, together with Dan Mullen and Mike White‘s coaches’ reveals, beginning within the 2021-22 athletic season. The SEC Community’s Paul Finebaum already has dedicated to coming to city for every week of reveals, whereas ESPN shall be in the home for the Florida-Alabama run-up in September. On-site use of the studio shall be free, although topic to availability. 

* A pair wall shows will line up a bevy of head ware related to Spurrier’s profession, in addition to his leisure life. A wall of helmets contains his time at Science Hill Excessive in Johnson Metropolis, Tenn., plus the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, USFL Tampa Bay Bandits, South Carolina Gamecocks, the Orlando Apollos, and, sure, even the Washington Redskins Soccer Workforce. When exiting the elevator upstairs at Visors, clients shall be greeted by a wall of — guess what? — visors, each from Spurrier’s groups in addition to a whole bunch of golf programs he is performed around the globe

.* Make certain (significantly) to go to the remaining rooms (even when you do not have to), that are wall-papered with a barrage of Spurrier’s most well-known “ball performs,” from Terry Dean-to-Jack Jackson (Alabama, ’93 SEC Championship Sport), Wuerffel-to-Reidel Anthony (4th-and-12 at Tennessee ’96), and Doug Johnson-to-Jacquez Inexperienced go (Florida State ’97). Sure, the performs are within the girls’ room, too.

* One of many non-public eating areas (“The Championship Room”) shall be embellished with portraits by former Gators linebacker James Bates, whose distinctive people artwork has turn into wildly well-liked throughout city and is well-known amongst Gator Nation. He is doing one among every of the 19 Florida coaches (throw in males’s tennis’s Bryan Shelton, as of final weekend) to win a nationwide championship. 


“I have been to Ditka’s place in Chicago and a variety of different cool eating places across the nation, however I simply love the way in which they’ve taken the levels of Coach Spurrier’s life — going all the way in which again to Science Hill Excessive — and made the hassle to place all of it on show,” mentioned Bates, additionally commissioned to do the restaurant’s paintings and textual content for the youngsters’s menu. “It’ll be a Gator fan Mecca.” 

That is the plan, sure. 

“Freddie and our staff have researched how profitable eating places function, and the purpose is to do it the way in which the highest eating places have executed it. We all know it is a enterprise that may be actually good and actually dangerous, however I just like the group we have put collectively and I like our location — Celebration Pointe, the place Gators go to have a good time,” Spurrier mentioned. “We all know we’ve got to have actually good meals and wonderful service, and we predict we have got that in place to make all of it go.”

His 1966 Heisman Trophy would be the big-ticket merchandise on show, however hardly the one merchandise at Steve Spurrier‘s restaurant and bar.

When Spurrier returned to UF in his ambassador position 5 years in the past he extolled the joy of being again and a part of a staff once more. Provided that it is his title on the restaurant, it is solely honest to say it is his staff. 

“Once we bought began, even in speaking to Jerri, we talked about their legacy right here,” Wehbe mentioned. “Our plan is to at all times be right here, to maintain it going and hold the Spurrier title alive.” 

So get able to stomach up and settle in at this HBC-inspired landmark. 

Ideally, if you happen to’re fortunate, in one among his chairs. 

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