Global restaurateur HMSHost, a world leader in creating dining for travel venues, celebrated the opening of its second Southern Grounds café at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) today. Located pre-security, the new location of the modern, chef-driven coffee house offers visitors to JAX an expanded menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a full bar featuring craft cocktails, and sweet treats from Jacksonville-based Blueberry Artisan Bakery.
“Airports have an opportunity to highlight the local food and beverage experiences that best represent their communities,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) CEO Mark VanLoh says. “As a beloved coffee house with several locations throughout Jacksonville, Southern Grounds is a perfect fit for our terminal.”
Open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the pre-security Southern Grounds offers the fresh-roasted Intelligentsia coffee and espresso-based beverages fans have come to know and love, along with a new selection of pastries from Blueberry Artisan Bakery, like flourless hazelnut bites and a gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake. The expanded all-day menu boasts everything from benedicts and burgers to salads, sandwiches, pitas, and tacos ― providing guests plenty of options to satisfy whatever they are craving. And true to the mission of Southern Grounds, the menu focuses on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients with delicious dishes to suit multiple dietary preferences, including health-forward, gluten-free, and vegetarian.
Additionally, for the first time, visitors to Southern Grounds can enjoy an expertly crafted cocktail pre-flight or upon their arrival in Jacksonville, like an expresso martini made with Southern Grounds’ espresso, Wheatley vodka, Caffè Borghetti espresso liqueur, Reàl vanilla, and espresso beans, or a Sparkling Guava Marg made with Don Julio Blanco tequila, Reàl guava, Fever-Tree sparkling pink grapefruit soda, and lime juice. HMSHost developed the new bar program to include a selection of spirits, along with beer and wine.
“Traditionally, being in transit has been the least enjoyable part of travel. With our partnership with HMSHost and JAA, we aim to change that with a sense of community, a sense of place, a great cup of coffee, and a relaxing, customer-centric atmosphere. We aim to connect our community and passengers with a unique and memorable experience along their journey and a place to welcome them back,” says Mark Janasik, owner of Southern Grounds and Blueberry Artisan Bakery. “We are a chef-driven coffee house offering an array of products to conscious consumers that reach beyond the cup, now serving in two locations at JAX. We are very grateful to JAA leadership, Lee Wesley Group, and HMSHost for selecting our brand for this exciting opportunity.”
HMSHost operates both Southern Grounds restaurants at JAX with Florida-based Lee Wesley, an Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) joint venture partner. The first Southern Grounds opened at JAX in Concourse A in February 2022 as part of a 10-year contract valued at approximately $60 million that JAA awarded to HMSHost and Lee Wesley.
“Since the first Southern Grounds opened in early 2022, it has proven to be an incredibly popular, sought-after dining destination at Jacksonville International Airport for its great coffee and food,” says HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Stephen Douglas. “We are thrilled to partner with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and Lee Wesley to open a larger, second restaurant so we can bring the unique Southern Grounds experience to all visitors to JAX.”