Most everyone in Jacksonville, Florida has been anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Whisky River at the St. John's Town Center. The Whisky River chain is owned by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and describes itself as a "unique blend of unpretentious charm, feel-good music and enticing food." The menu includes all the bar-food favorites like two-wide burgers, chicken fingers, sweet potato fries and pizza. They also claim to have some hot wings that are "seriously spicy."
I did not make the opening weekend events but read great comments on Facebook and other NASCAR blogs including comments from lots of local fans. This is how one person described Jacksonville’s latest hotspot: “Take two ounces of ROCK AND ROLL, an ounce of COUNTRY, add a splash of SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, mix and serve.”
I became very curious, being the NASCAR fan that I am, and decided to visit Whisky River to see it for myself. Knowing the crowds that new nightspots can draw in Jacksonville, I decided it would be best to start with lunch first. Plus, what better way to see the race from Texas than on several different size plasma televisions.
Here is my report card of expectations BEFORE lunch:
MENU: typical bar food
DÉCOR: lots plasma televisions, more like a sports bar with little or no style
STAFF: Hi ya’ll!
OVERALL: Not very high expectations
Here is my report card AFTER lunch at Whisky River:
MENU: Enticing menu! From Killer Wings to Pit Stop Pizza, lots of variety and great size proportions. In fact, either come with a BIG appetite or bring someone to share the meal with you.
DÉCOR: I was right on part of my expectations. There were lots of plasma televisions of all sizes! Fun cow printed bar stools and booths. There is a great outdoor area for dining or just relaxing and watching the race on a Sunday afternoon.
ATMOSPHERE: It's a big place, 11,500 square feet, that's both club and restaurant. Three bars and lots of cowhide-print booths scattered along the front half. The back half has two more bars, a dance floor and a stage. It was very relaxing, at least at lunch time. Come back later this week to read about the ‘after dark’ Whisky River experience.
STAFF: Friendly, no ya’lls were heard, and our beverage glass was never empty!
OVERALL: Absolutely wonderful! I am geared up and ready to go back again!
Oh yeah, forgot to mention. My husband made the observation that there were only female servers and bartenders. He knew that the waitresses were called Whisky Chicks. He even noticed what they were wearing from their leather vests, blue jean shorts to their cowboy boots.
After eating our lunch, I watched the others around me and listened to the conversations at their tables, as well as with their waitresses. I heard nothing but positive comments about the food, atmosphere and service while we were there. Others asked what was in the corner section of the restaurant that looked like a saddle. Why it is an electric bull! One Whisky Chick tried to encourage her guest to get up and take a ride. But no takers! Maybe this Wednesday we will get to see the bull in action!
There is even a special souvenir section where you can purchase hats, t-shirts and even a Whisky River custom designed motorcycle or awesome guitar.
Pretty awesome experience and looking forward to Wednesday night when we get to see a live performance of Luke Bryan. So come back and see more pictures and a special blog about the night life at Whisky River.
In the meantime, check out their website at www.thewhiskyriver.com/jacksonville/
There are lots of graphics, so it may take a minute to load, but it's worth the wait!
Until next time…..