After months of anticipation, legendary Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier’s newest play off the field, Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille and Visor’s rooftop bar is ready for its kick-off opening.
Originally set to open in spring, Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille is an upscale yet casual restaurant and football museum that will cater to Gator fans and football enthusiasts everywhere.
It is located in Celebration Pointe at 4860 SW 31st Place and will highlight the Gator football history and its namesake legacy of success, quality food and first-class service.
Freddie Wehbe, the managing partner for Spurriers, said construction delays and staff shortages caused opening setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with the staff hired and construction complete, Wehbe said they’re ready to serve the Gainesville community.
Spurrier said the space is close to 18,000 square feet, featuring Visor’s rooftop bar and three dining rooms that can host nearly 500 people total.
It’s the largest restaurant in Gainesville and the ninth-largest restaurant in Florida, according to Wehbe.
Families and friends of employees have been invited to test the “practice dinners” to provide feedback for any last fine-tuning adjustments to the menu and the service.
“So hopefully, opening night, we will have all the kinks worked out,” Spurrier said.
The restaurant’s story began two years ago when Spurrier’s daughter, Amy Moody, sparked the idea.
“Dad, you need a restaurant or something to put all these plaques and trophies and championship rings and all that kind of stuff,” she said, according to Spurrier.
With help from Wehbe, an entrepreneur who owns Make It Happen, an improvement consulting company based in Gainesville, Spurrier said the vision started coming to life.
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“It [Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille] truly is beyond the restaurant, it’s an experience,” said Wehbe.
The “Head Ball Coach’s” memorabilia is displayed in the exhibit, including all of his trophies, championship rings and the coveted Heisman trophies for both Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel. In addition, patrons can find bathrooms decorated with Spurrier’s gameplays, and there is also a podcast studio, where ESPN radio shows will be recorded.
“We don’t have it yet but if we get his [Tim Tebow] Heisman trophy, we’ll be the only restaurant in the world that will have three Heisman trophies,” Wehbe said.
According to Spurrier, the restaurant prepared extensively to find the best staff.
“I think we have some quality, first-class people that work there also, have good food, excellent service, and that's what we plan to have all the time there,” Spurrier said.
“To be successful, the food has to be wonderful and the service has to be outstanding,” Spurrier said.
Mark Heigl, the head chef of ‘Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille,’ has been in the food industry for over 30 years and has worked as one of the top three head chefs in the summer 1996 Olympics.
Spurrier said he is fond of Heigl’s work and that the flavor in everything he cooks is outstanding.
“It is polished American with a little bit of southern in it and a hint of international,” Heigl said.
The ingredients are sourced locally. They utilize Wainwright Dairy, Hawthorne Creek Creamery, Quincey Cattle Ranch and more. Everything is 100% made from scratch or sourced from local businesses. Opus Coffee provides the restaurant’s coffee.
The menu consists of a wide range of dishes from oysters and mahi to margarita-flavored wings, steaks, burgers, salads and vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Spurrier said a huge part of making the restaurant the best it could be was making sure the food was excellent.
“If something wasn’t a 10, we were going to work on it until it was a 10. Or it just didn’t get on the menu,” Heigl said.
Heigl said there’s a process to creating the perfect menu.
“We visited all of the local farms to make sure that the animals were being treated right, the farms were ran properly and everything,” he said. “And so that's how we did the farm to table.”
Wehbe said Gainesville is not a small city anymore, and it needed a place like Spurrier’s — a quality restaurant with good food.
“We built it for the community,” he said. “We built it for recruiting talent. We built it to enhance Gainesville. We built it to be able to recruit better doctors and better professionals and better players and we had Coach Mullen in here a few times with recruits. They're impressed, their families are impressed.”
As of August 1, reservations can be made online. Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille is open Sunday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to midnight.
Contact Alexis at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Alexis_Carson99.
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Alexis Carson is a third-year journalism major and staff writer with the Avenue. In her free time, she loves watching horror movies and going to concerts.