Southern Grounds Opens in Jacksonsville International Airport

    Industry News | February 17, 2022
    Ribbon cutting at Jacksonville International Airport.
    Southern Grounds
    From left to right: Eliana Casado, HMSHost; Derryl Benton, executive vice president of business development at HMSHost; Mark Janasik, owner of Southern Grounds; Ray Alfred, chair of Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board; Mark VanLoh, CEO of Jacksonville Aviation Authority; Camille Lee-Johnson, CEO of Lee Wesley Group; Paul Lockel, director Of operations at HMSHost; Katie Hunter, director of financing and licensing operations at Southern Grounds; Lindsay Blakeslee, director of franchise sales at Southern Grounds.

    Florida-based Southern Grounds debuts today at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). This chef-driven coffee house is located on Concourse A and prides itself on creating a community around great food and drink. Menu items range from the Grits Bowl and Avocado Toast to Not Yo’ Mama’s Quesadilla and Baja Ancient Grain Bowl. Travelers seeking a caffeine boost can choose from a variety of coffee beverages, including Café Con Leche, Turmeric Latte and more.

    The new Southern Grounds location is part of a 10-year contract valued at approximately $60 million that the Jacksonville Aviation Authority awarded to global restaurateur HMSHost and Lee Wesley Group Inc., its Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) joint venture partner.    

    “At HMSHost, we pride ourselves on bringing food and beverage concepts into the airport that reflect the city’s thriving restaurant culture,” says HMSHost President & CEO Steve Johnson. “Whether those travelers originate from Jacksonville or are just passing through, we are pleased to partner with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and Southern Grounds to offer a beloved local brand and the southern hospitality experience.” 

    Southern Grounds collaborates with chefs and farmers from around the Southeast to craft menu items that are sourced from local purveyors, whenever possible. Southern Grounds serves all-day options, with a keen focus on healthful goodness and sustainable ingredients.  Busy travelers will find gluten-free, vegetarian, and health-forward options for various eating preferences, as well as a convenient selection of freshly prepared, grab-and-go items.

    Among the local foods and ingredients Southern Grounds is using at its airport coffee house are Verlasso Salmon, fresh-milled grits from Logan Turnpike Mill in Georgia, bread and bagels from local bakery Village Bread, croissants and cookies from Blueberry Bakery, and Intelligentsia Coffee.

    “Southern Grounds is a perfect addition to the terminal as we work to bring more local Northeast Florida dining options to the airport,” JAA CEO Mark VanLoh says. “Travelers can now enjoy fantastic coffee and excellent food from one of Jacksonville’s finest establishments.”

    "Traditionally, being in transit has been the least enjoyable part of travel. With our partnership with HMSHost & 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. We are a chef driven coffee house offering an array of products to conscious consumers that reach beyond the cup. HMSHost being a leader in the hospitality space was a natural fit. We are very grateful to JAA leadership, Lee Wesley Group and HMSHost for selecting our brand for this exciting opportunity,” says Southern Grounds owner Mark Janasik. 

    The Concourse A location is easily accessible from all gates, making Southern Grounds the new go-to spot to enjoy a freshly prepared meal and beverage. The location offers travelers ample dedicated seating, with options to sit by the concourse for people watching, or near windows overlooking the tarmac for plane spotting

    Locally owned Southern Grounds is Florida through-and-through, with locations in nearby Neptune Beach, San Marco and Avondale, and additional locations in the works. The JAX opening marks Southern Grounds’ first airport location with a second location coming soon to the pre-security center court area. 

    News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.