Culinary students helm new cafe

The latest addition to downtown Jacksonville, Florida’s dining options, 20West Cafe, is a farm-to-table, counter-service restaurant operated by students and staff in Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality program.

This is the second cafe in the ACF-accredited culinary program’s portfolio of student-run restaurants in the city’s Urban Core. The first, originally called the Mallard Room, operated at the college’s North Campus from 1991 until 2017, when it moved downtown and changed its name to Cafe Frisch. It’s located in a former welding lab inside the Downtown Campus and serves three-course meals by reservation only. 20West, however, faces the street, visible to passers-by, and offers a counter-service, fast-casual environment with a menu of fresh options for on-the-go students — who will be living above the restaurant in soon-to-be-completed dorms. Menu items include a grilled cauliflower steak served with greens and potato salad, a portobello pita sandwich with peppers, onions and mornay sauce and a Mideast kale salad with chickpeas, olives, roasted red pepper, pine nuts and tahini dressing.

“The menu will change seasonally, though some staples will remain permanent. I tried to make the menu health centered. There’s a lot of classics made healthier,” says Chef Brett Cromer, himself a recent graduate of FSCJ’s culinary program. “We have been open for a month now, and business is slowly picking up. I’m sure after construction finishes, we will stay busy.”

The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch five days a week.