Jacksonville, the largest and most populous city in Florida, is filled with people with a broad range of tastes. That’s figuratively true when it comes to sports and other interests, but it can also be taken literally as food. The area’s dining landscape caters to a broad flavor demographic ranging from affordable grilled cheese joints to five-star establishments by the bay. Entrepreneurs can enter the market with almost any culinary option and find a niche customer base.
For business-savvy individuals ready to conquer the community’s food market, the firms on this list are some of the top restaurant architects in Jacksonville. Our editorial team found these studios after an extensive research process that involved stringent criteria. We looked at each company’s history, portfolio quality, client reviews, the awards they have received, accreditations, the principals’ backgrounds, and more.
6903 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32211
Established in 1989, ACT Architects is a Jacksonville studio well-versed in crafting spaces that elevate the client, the community, and the environment as well. Considered among the best design firms in Florida, the firm focuses on commercial, institutional, and hospitality markets. The firm’s portfolio includes local work that spans the counties of Duval, St. John, Nassau, and Clay, along with most of the Southeast US. To date, the full-service practice has completed over 1,000 projects across 12 states, composed mostly of restaurants, offices, and healthcare facilities.
Brad Hollett leads the company as a 30-year industry veteran once named among the top commercial remodelers and commercial contractors in North Florida along with his partner Dave Christine RA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C. These all-around professionals carry design, building, and management skills in his arsenal. Brad spearheads Accelerator Contractors, the sister company of ACT that handles construction-related projects. He is also a strong proponent of sustainable architecture and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C).
Jollibee is considered the most successful fast-food corporation in the Philippines and all of Asia. The multinational restaurant currently has 37 stores in the country, (and over 5000 in the world) one of which is located in Jacksonville and designed by the ACT team. Hollett created a new prototype design that involved an extended angled front soffit on its exterior which, despite the structural challenges, was efficiently completed with a sleek and functional design. The Owner said it was the very best of all his stores when he saw the final product.
1032 Hendricks Ave Jacksonville, FL 32207
Design Cooperative (DCOOP) is an award-winning practice known for its upscale architecture and interior design work. The acclaimed firm strives to create meaningful spaces that inspire and engage through modern design and high-quality craftsmanship. A sample of its work is the pictured Il Desco restaurant, a 2,500-square-foot Italian bistro located in Jacksonville’s Riverside community.
DCOOP is led by principal Tom Reynolds, a 40-year architecture veteran certified in Florida and North Carolina. The LEED AP has a renowned design catalog across the country, which includes the University of North Florida Student Housing, the Pasco County Courthouse restoration, and the PGA Tour Media Center. He also served for many state organizations such as the San Marco Preservation Society’s Board of Directors and the University of Florida’s Architecture Director Search Committee and the Professional Liaison Committee. For all of his contributions to the industry and the community, he was honored with the John W. Dyal Memorial Award by the AIA’s Jacksonville Chapter.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded the firm with the People’s Choice Award, the Award of Honor, and the Award of Excellence for various standout projects. The studio’s remarkable work has also been featured in the Florida Caribbean Architect, the Florida Times-Union, Realty/Builder Connection, and the Jacksonville Business Journal.
13500 Sutton Park Drive South, Suite 301, Jacksonville, FL 32224
The firm dig Architecture specializes in custom residential design and private commercial architecture with coastal and contemporary energy. Its team meticulously taps into the client’s vision to create a design that accurately depicts the owner’s taste, budget, and lifestyle. Reviews of the firm on third-party sites are filled with commendations from former customers. One of the company’s locally-designed oceanfront residences won an AIA Jacksonville Design Excellence Award in 2017, further proof of its high-quality work.
The studio’s balance of collaborative and creative savvy has produced a portfolio of design-build homes as well as commercial properties like the featured LIT nightclub and restaurant in Downtown Jacksonville. The project was designed on a small budget, which required a lot of creativity and maximization of space. It features a bar with a restored mural, a second story with mural advertisements, and drink rails repurposed from existing beams in the building.
The Jacksonville company was founded by Nicholas Renard, an NCARB and AIA certified architect with a portfolio that spans Florida, Ohio, and South Carolina. Prior to dig Architecture’s inception, he spent seven years at the helm of Cote Renard Architecture as its co-founder and architect of record. Renard’s industry tenure produced a well-decorated resume with awards from the AIA, Jacksonville Historical Society, and various local competitions.
2233 Park Ave #303, Orange Park, FL 32073
Dura Architecture is a Jacksonville-based firm renowned for its modern visual style and top-notch craftsmanship. The design practice operates in sync with Dura Design-Build, its building contractor counterpart. The studio strives to enhance communities through high-performance spaces that deliver functional and aesthetic qualities, traits evident in its vast project catalog.
Daniel Garcia, who serves as the principal and CEO of the company, was once a recipient of AIA Jacksonville’s Emerging Design Professional Award in 2012. He currently stands as one of the most prominent architects in the city whose portfolio covers high-end residential properties, restaurants, core and shell projects, and commercial tenant improvements.
Sonny’s is a well-established Florida restaurant famed for its barbecued meats, delicious sides, and salads. Located in Orange Park, it is a local favorite among foodies and offers dine-in, to-go, and catering services. Its straightforward design features wooden tables, benches, dividers, cushioned seats, metal chairs, and metal food counters. The interior uses a strict palette of black, red, and gray that gives the site a uniform and signature look. Coupled with a welcoming ambiance and a spacious layout, the stylish restaurant’s contemporary flair adds to the overall dining experience ensuring all-around satisfaction for patrons of the food chain.
Group 4 Design, Inc.
1520 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32207
Group 4 Design is a full-service studio with a focus on architecture and interior design. Innovative projects, collaborative spirit, and efficient management are the three elements that have marked its rise to Jacksonville prominence. Based in the city, the firm’s projects focus on multifamily, single-family, corporate, and hospitality markets in the area.
The practice is composed of industry professionals with experience in local, regional, and international projects. Interior design principal Leigh Gunn has over 20 years of experience in the field. A member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), her expertise lies in multi-family, senior living, and clubhouse design. Other key partners includes Jamie Jaxon, construction administration principal and an all-around specialist in building and design for over 40 years, and Karie Kovacocy, the architectural design principal who serves as a LEED AP and an affiliate of the AIA.
The Southern Grounds coffee shop is a food hub and a communal space for residents of the San Marco community. The 3,615-square-foot project was designed by Group 4 in collaboration with the Osterer Construction Company. The interior’s sleek white palette and a clean layout are bolstered by modern furniture and stylish fixtures.
kasper architects + associates
10175 Fortune Parkway, Suite 701 Jacksonville, FL 32256
The firm kasper architects + associates is committed to high-end designs that positively affect the community. It is an award-winning firm with standout projects that have earned accolades from the AIA, Jacksonville Business Journal, and the City of Gainesville. To date, kasper has completed over 1,500 projects, and all with a creative, innovative approach.
The full-service architectural and interior design practice is headed by Erik C. Kasper, who has served as principal and CEO since 2004. The NCARB-certified professional is licensed in 10 states with a portfolio that spans retail, office, industrial, and ecclesiastical sectors. Prior to his firm’s inception, Kasper worked for a number of renowned studios such as Rink Design Partnership, HOK, and Flad and Associates. These stints formed the foundation of his self-operated endeavor, which has grown into a company known for quality work and service.
Brucci’s Restaurant is one of the premier pizzerias in Jacksonville. Brucci’s serves pizzas and pasta as well as a broad selection rooted in Italian cuisine. kasper architects was tapped for the project, which required a contemporary design and an ergonomic layout. Streamline hues composed of black and white were used for the interiors, with a large black wall that bore the food shop’s brand. The small space creates a homey, welcoming atmosphere—an inviting ambiance fit for social gatherings.
315 East Bay Street, Suite 303, Jacksonville, FL 32202
Studio9 Architecture is considered one of the most preeminent design firms in North Florida. Founded in 2009, it is headed by the team of Craig Davisson, Jason Faulkner, and Jim Prey, who all serve as principals and co-partners of the firm. The studio specializes in three departments—residential architecture, commercial architecture, and interior design. Exceptional work is delivered from a project’s inception to completion, and clients are guided every step of the way to keep them in the loop. A streamlined operation ensures that there are no gaps in the process of planning, design, and delivery, and its efficient approach guarantees that projects are completed on-time and on-schedule for the owner’s convenience and satisfaction.
Sbraga and Company is a Jacksonville restaurant designed by the Studio9 team. The 6,650-square-foot property is a mixed-use development that serves as a food hub and social space with a residential set-up that includes home-styled tables, cozy couches, outdoor lounges, and even a large bedroom. The sophisticated layout evokes the luxurious fixtures and decor that allude to the owner’s taste for elegance. A massive courtyard with a large swimming pool is connected to the lake and offers scenic views of the expanse, offering routine views of gorgeous sunsets.
ZINN architecture + interiors
1022 Park Street 407, Jacksonville, FL 32204
ZINN creates projects that possess aesthetic and functional qualities as well as inspiring people through captivating design. The firm is led by co-founders Kassia and Rob Zinn, who serves as president and vice president, respectively. The Jacksonville practice operates with a process-oriented and client-driven approach that aims to deliver optimal spaces that elevate the owner’s way of living. Core values like creative and experiential properties are weaved into its framework, meticulously shaping every project not only in terms of design but also in the management and service aspects of the job.
The firm’s portfolio covers residential, corporate, hospitality, entertainment, government, institutional, and real estate markets within the Florida state. A sample of ZINN’s work is The Bread and Board gourmet sandwich shop featured in this article. The local grub hub is famed for its deconstructed sandwiches that are served on wooden charcuterie boards. The place is mostly known for its outdoor dining options surrounded by landscaped terrain, which provide an airy experience. Its interiors were designed by the ZINN team, which includes a playful mix of fixtures and decor, a pristine palette, and furniture made of metal and wood. The artisanal shop’s renovation earned a 2018 Award of Excellence from the AIA’s Jacksonville Chapter.