Jacksonville in a Box

Have you ever wanted to share a city with someone long-distance? A tricky feat, to say the least. Jacksonville, the largest city in the lower 48 states, is a bit too big to fit in a box. At least, that’s what most people would say. Jonny Videl thinks differently.

It all started when his friend was stationed in Iraq, about a year and a half ago. Jonny decided to send his friend a care package. He threw a box together and sent it over to his friend. Once the package arrived, the others who were stationed with Jonny’s friend wanted a box of their own. This word of mouth care packaging system rapidly expanded. Soon, Jonny was coming up with packages for college kids, conferences, housewarming gifts, property managers, and more. The best part about these packages is that they’re totally local, and totally Jacksonville.DSC_0230 As Jacksonville in a Box grew larger, Jonny realized he needed a place to put these boxes together. Enter Arc, Jacksonville’s own community for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. Arc specializes in giving individuals a chance to work, learn, and have fun, without worrying about discrimination or a lack of peace. Jonny decided to partner with Arc, whose wonderful members work hard on putting together these awesomely local boxes. Jonny is completely indebted to Arc, which brought Jacksonville in a Box out of the ground, and has helped make it the successful business that it is now.DSC_0232 DSC_0234 DSC_0242 DSC_0246 DSC_0247 DSC_0248 DSC_0255   DSC_0261Currently, Jacksonville in a Box has two sizes. The large box is an experience box, with over 12 items, including Jaguars stickers, Bono’s barbecue sauce, burger seasoning from FreshJax, Sweet Pete’s candy (my favorite), a Jacksonville Suns foam finger, and more. The smaller boxes contain only edible items. Jonny’s hoping to expand his reach and fit as many bits of Jacksonville in a box that he can.

Jonny’s got his own love for the city that he hopes to share with others. He’s a big fan of the beach, but he’s especially proud of the rejuvenation that has taken place downtown and in the neighborhoods around Jax. “There’s so many cool pockets,” he says. His favorite hang out area is Murray Hill. His goal is to spread “a little taste of Jacksonville” with anyone he can. To Jonny, this is more than sending people a box–it’s about sending Jacksonville along with it. The biggest reward he’s had so far is getting the chance to shine a spotlight on The Arc. Without Arc, Jacksonville in a Box wouldn’t be what it is.

Jacksonville in a Box is one of the coolest things I’ve discovered here. How many times have I thought, If only I could show someone a glimpse of Jacksonville? Jonny Videl has given me, and the rest of the city, the opportunity to do just that. He’s done the hard work of getting local companies on board; now, all he needs to do is share this awesome idea with the rest of the city, so that the world can discover all the bits of Jacksonville that we love.

Music Mondays // Jacob Hudson

Music can be a topic as touchy as who to vote for, or whether or not you like mayo. For Jacob Hudson, however, talking about music is as easy as talking about breathing–because for Jacob, music is breathing. Somewhere in the City met with Jacob a few years back, when he was at a different stage of his life. It’s always good to catch up with our favorite locals, particularly when something new and exciting comes their way. For Jacob, it’s the completion of his record “The Tomb” and his first music video for “The Dirt.”

The two of us met in Vagabond and chatted about his upbringing, his influences, and the fact that we’re both cat people. I’m always curious about people’s “How’s.” How does someone decide to be a musician? How did Jacob know this was something he wanted to pursue? Well, like most stories, Jacob’s doesn’t have a single, defining moment; rather, his story is one that progressed through time, with a little bit of help from family, church, and his own bravery.jacobThis Jacksonville native was homeschooled, meaning that he’s smarter than most of the people his age, and probably people older. Despite doing his studies at home, he didn’t dabble too much with music until his church, Celebration, recognized his potential and invested in his skills. He started messing around with drums and playing at Sunday services at Celebration. This familiarity with instruments grew until he’d picked up the piano, guitar, and singing to boot.

Things got serious when he was 16. Jacob’s family has always been supportive of his musical abilities, so much so that his brother loaned him the money to buy recording equipment so that he could record his first album. Jacob didn’t stop there, either. At 17 years old, he was confident enough to book himself for a 15-day tour around Atlanta, Nashville, Asheville, and Savannah. Remember, this kid’s 17. Jacob discovered then that he was great at networking, but not so good at balancing performances with his passion for writing. The tour left him drained and without the drive to write songs. He stayed in a rut for awhile, until the inspiration kicked back in and he wrote his next record, entitled “The Tomb.”

At this point, you may be wondering what type of music Jacob writes. A few of his role models are William Fitzsimmons, whose soft and raw voice was the inspiration for Jacob’s own voice (“He’s Iron and Wine softness divided by 2,” Jacob told me); Sujan Stevens, where Jacob found his quirky way of writing;  Nick Drake; and Simon & Garfunkel. We discussed the frustration of trying to classify ourselves into specific genres that may be too narrow or too broad for our liking. In the end, Jacob settles for folk, though he acknowledges that his music doesn’t fit with all the motifs of folk music. He doesn’t classify himself as a Christian musician, though he says his pieces may have notes of Christian influence. He’s a fan of the 1970’s folk feel, with warm and darker tones that aren’t crisp and perfected like a conventional studio-recorded sound. With “The Tomb”, Jacob steered away from the feel of ’60s Gospel and opted for the roomy, organic sound of a record made in a cabin in the mountains–which was exactly where he recorded “The Tomb.” His record shows his journey from the bitterness of a past relationship transformed into honest introspection and acceptance of how he has changed, and for the better.jacobI wondered if Jacob was writing every day, or if he had to wait for some magical inspiration to kick in. He says that he can go months without writing, and then suddenly songs will pile on him at once. He admits that he feels things very strongly and wants to put his feelings onto paper, but in a way that others can relate to. “I try to be imaginative,” he says, trying to broaden his current emotion so that it’s a situation wide enough for anyone to understand.

For someone brave enough to go on tour at 17, Jacob is surprisingly shy when it comes to his family. “I was terrified to sing alone with my parents,” he says with a laugh. The first time his family heard him sing was when they listened to a song he’d recorded. He showed them how to access the song, and then avoided his parents for the rest of the day. Good news–they loved his music. His family is his biggest fan and is sure to be at every show. After 3 tours, Jacob has gotten back into doing local shows, though he acknowledges that Jacksonville’s music culture isn’t very healthy right now. He’d like to see smaller house shows that don’t drag until it’s super late at night. He’s a fan of an intimate performance setting, a community-based one where he can build relationships with a few fans, rather than call out generic greetings to hundreds of fans. It’s the “I’d rather have a few close friends than a million acquaintances” philosophy, which makes sense when you understand Jacob’s introverted personality. His tendency to keep to himself means that his fans don’t know too much about him. I did the hard work and asked Jacob the questions that others might not know the answers to.

Favorite part about Jax: Murray Hill, where his studio is. He likes Murray Hill at night, when the neighborhood gets dead, and he can have theological discussions in the parking lot until it’s way past bedtime.

Favorite food: Southern breakfast with a nice cup of coffee. Maple Street is his go-to. We now know why his studio is in Murray Hill.

Things that terrify him: Cockroaches. He won’t even pick up a dead one, he’ll just kick it until he can’t see it anymore.

For Jacob, it’s not about the success; it’s about making his music and connecting with others. Make your own connection with Jacob by checking out his Spotify. See his latest music video for “The Dirt” here. You’ll want to watch it again and again (see if you can recognize the setting!). Kick back with some coffee, and maybe a biscuit from Maple Street, and get to know Jacob. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Bella Lina Bath

Superheros aren’t the only ones with origin stories. The events leading up to Bella Lina Bath involve goats, eczema, bacon fat, and a really smart grandmother. Curious yet? So was I, and I asked Jessica Sanchez plenty of questions. You’ve probably seen her around RAM. You may have even bought some of her bath bombs that smell like candy. They taste like candy, too. Just kidding. Sort of. No really, don’t eat your bath bombs.

Jessica is originally from Reading, Pennsylvania. (Yes, there’s really a city called “Reading.” No, I don’t know if the city is built out of books.) As a young girl, Jessica dealt with painful eczema. Her skin would become itchy and flaky and would get easily inflamed. Her grandmother eventually decided to take matters into her own hands and made soap out of goats milk and bacon fat. Jessica walked around smelling like milk, but she didn’t care, because her skin was finally soothed.

When Jessica’s own daughter was 6 months old, she started exhibiting signs of eczema. Her skin condition was so bad that a doctor recommended steroids. Rather than put her daughter through the same painful experience that she dealt with, Jessica took a leaf out of grandma’s book and began looking into natural soaps. However, ordering good soaps online just wasn’t the same as those awesomely handmade soaps that Jessica grew up using. She decided she wanted to make her own soaps. 7 years later, Jessica has become an expert on lye, skin care, and making everything smell amazing.p1040657The name Bella Lina is a combination of the names of Jessica’s daughters, Izabella and Angelina. What started out as something for her family has turned into a favorite Jacksonville small business. The weird thing is, Jessica wasn’t always planning on selling. She unintentionally got a wide fan base before she’d even considered sharing her products with people outside her family. “Friends would come over and take stuff from my soap closet,” she said with a laugh. That’s when she realized, Hey, why not try selling this stuff? Her first time selling was on Etsy, where she quickly became a 5-star reviewed shop. Jessica did farmers markets around Orlando before she finally moved to Jacksonville a few years ago. The city’s definitely got a keeper, because Jessica never wants to leave. “Jacksonville is the first place that I’ve embraced and that’s embraced me,” she said. She’s grateful to RAM, and says that the arts market has made Bella Lina the successful company that it is now. Besides RAM, Jessica loves sunshine and the beach and swears she’s part mermaid, hence the mermaid on her logo. She’s also a fan of 5 Points, where she feels that she can be herself, turquoise hair and all.

Jessica is all about natural products, so the ingredients she uses are safe enough for sensitive skin, free of formaldehyde and sketchy preservatives. She’s got you covered with shampoos, body butter, and even insect repellent during the summer. I’ve tried her soaps, lotion, sugar scrubs, and bath bombs, and can attest to their wonderfulness. The soaps are creamy and moisturizing. They lather really well, so the soap will last forever. The emulsified sugar scrub was surprisingly soft. I was expecting it to be hard and gritty, but it was squishy enough to be a pillow. Seriously. I got excited with the bath bomb and used the whole thing, though it’s big enough to last for a couple uses. It turned the water bright blue and made the whole top floor of my house smell amazing. I was worried that there would be a blue ring in the rub, but there was no lingering color. Plus, it left my skin super soft.p1040651p1040634p1040660Her favorite part about this job is that it gives her the opportunity to be with her family. After all, she started doing all of this for her kids, who love that their mom is part-time mermaid, full-time chemist in her secret lab. Jessica takes her work seriously and doesn’t let anyone enter her mermaid den without a hairnet. She spends a good portion of her time making her products. Getting ready is the longest part, taking up a good 4-5 hours. Her favorite part about making her products is designing them. Jessica doesn’t believe in boring soap, but instead tries to make each thing she creates unique and pretty. She definitely does a good job. I mean, my Monkey Farts soap has swirls and glitter. It doesn’t get much better than that.

It’s one thing to buy natural and effective products, and another thing to buy them from someone who is the sweetest, most cheerful person around. Jessica is as bright as her soaps. Her ultimate goal isn’t making money, it’s making people happy and clean. She loves everyone, and she’s pretty loved in return. If you don’t believe me, visit her yourself. Find her around RAM, and maybe at Brew and Saltologie, where she sells her products. Be sure to sign up for her monthly mailer to get tips on healthy and safe skin care.

Thanks, Bella Lina, for making Jacksonville a cleaner, brighter place.p1040643

Local Gifts Only!

Buying gifts is difficult. We get it. We’ve decided to make things easier on you, so we’ve come up with local gift ideas. You’ll have fun shopping local, and the person receiving your gifts will love opening them, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

Rebecca’s thinkin’ you should check out these snazzy ideas:

  • Bridge 8
    • Care for some light reading while you wrap yourself in blankets during the blistering winter of 57 degrees? Check out Jacksonville’s first print-only literary magazine, brainchild of local writer Jared Rypkema. Issue 3 has come out just in time for Christmas, too!12313915_952626094785551_1481515311709193171_n
  • Sun-Ray
    • Only a crazy person wouldn’t enjoy tickets to Sun-Ray. So, unless you’re buying gifts for someone crazy, this gift is guaranteed to work.DSC_4131
  • Tickets to the Cummer 
    • Your friends and family don’t need to be art fanatics in order to enjoy a walk through the Cummer, inside and out. Head to the Cummer before January 3rd to see the Women, Art, and Social Change exhibit. Take a stroll through the gardens if it’s not too cold. And let’s be real: it’s going to be 70 degrees, so the weather will be perfect.
  • Olive My Pickle
    • I’m an unabashed pickle fiend. Open my kitchen cabinet, and you’ll find empty pickle and salsa jars (I also love salsa). OMP is sure to satisfy any pickle lover. Find these deliciously fermented cucumbers at Native Sun, Grassroots, the farmers market, and online! DSC_0030
  • Vagabond–pretty much anything there.
    • You know how much Somewhere in the City loves Vagabond. Whomever you’re buying gifts for will love it, too. Trust me.vagabond-5169


Brentley’s feelin’ these things:

  • Candy from Sweet Pete’s 
    • Chocolate is always in season, which means that Sweet Pete’s treats are always a hit. Whether you’re looking for a last minute hostess gift or a treat for small cousins, chocolate is the way to go!

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  • Vodka from Carve
    • Millennials may be hard to shop for, but they do love their craft cocktails. Pair this beautiful bottle of vodka with a shot-glass and shaker set and you are good to go. You can find Carve all over!
  • Alewife merch
    • Here in JAX we love repping our craft scene, and Alewife’s shirts and other items are the perfect way to show that you’re cool enough to drink craft beers in local places.DSC_0200
  • Pie of the Month Club from My Grandmothers Pie
    • If you know me, you know my love of pie, and all things made by MGP. From handpies to her old fashion apple pie, everything Allison touches turns golden and flaky. The Pie of the Month Club guarantees you a fresh, seasonal pie every month for the whole year. Truly the gift that keeps on giving.mgp
  • Momni
    • Instant style awaits at Momni. You can’t go wrong with any of their clothing, and hello affordable accessories!image1


If you’re running behind on your list, or just haven’t got a clue, gift cards from fabulous restaurants like the Candy Apple Cafe (which is conveniently located in the same building as Sweet Pete’s–two birds, one stone), San Marco Kitchen, or the newly-opened Il Desco make just about anyone feel special! Don’t forget Bold Bean, Brew, and did we mention Vagabond?

Good luck from the team at SitC, and Happy Holidays!!

Vagabond: A Visual Journey

We’ve talked about Vagabond again and again, but we’re not too afraid to admit that we’re mildly obsessed with this coffee place. We won’t beat you over the head with more details about it; instead, we’ll just post lots of lovely photos that should encourage you (force you) to want to go there. If the photography skills of Stefanie Keeler don’t convince you, you’re just crazy. So, without further ado, we hope you enjoy this visual journey into the world of local coffee, cool people, and dang good decorating skills.vagabond-5188vagabond-5190vagabond-5148vagabond-5163 vagabond-5153  vagabond-5198vagabond-5204vagabond-5169 vagabond-5179   vagabond-5224vagabond-5213vagabond-5194     vagabond-5267vagabond-5227 vagabond-5286vagabond-5235 vagabond-5254 vagabond-5158vagabond-5261

Il Desco // Riverside

Welcome to Riverside, Il Desco, we are so happy to have you! With fresh made pastas, wood fired pizzas, raw bar, hand crafted drinks, and more, it’s a great addition to the area.

We were thrilled to be invited to preview the menu, and after trying a handful of dishes, we have to say that their chefs are very talented. They source local whenever possible, and the menu will change seasonally.

The interior is just as sumptuous as the menu. It boasts a large community table in the middle of the restaurant, and circular booths, so it’s perfect for a romantic evening or large gatherings!

The Grand Opening will be on November 12th, and we highly recommend making a reservation by giving them a call at 904-290-6711.

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Fun fact,  Il Desco means “the dinner table” in Italian!

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The craft cocktail list will change seasonally, to keep up with the menu as it changes throughout the year.

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Oyster shooter anyone?

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Let’s talk about spaghetti tacos. I get it, they sound strange, and I mean they are, but somehow putting pasta in a taco with delicious sauce and a smattering of lettuce and Parmesan works. Don’t ask me how, just order a plate and see for yourself!

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With fresh seafood, and local fish, you can’t go wrong with their whole fish, lobster pasta, or their fresh squid.

If you’ve had a bad experience with squid in the past we highly recommend trying it at Il Desco, it’s not your average calamari!

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With a variety of specialty pizzas to choose from you can’t go wrong. Vegetarian and meat eaters alike will be happy with the choices provided.

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Let us know what your favorite dish is when you visit Il Desco!



Jax by Jax // Tim Gilmore

Jax by Jax, Jacksonville’s most recent literary festival, has an unlikely beginning with Tim Gilmore, a prolific local writer, professor, and self-professed introvert.

With festivals Jax by Jax, and publications like Bridge Eight  and Perversion, our literary scene here in Jacksonville is growing every year. With Tim behind it, Jacksonville is winding up for the 2nd annual  Jax by Jax, on Saturday, November 14th. This year it’s going to be bigger and better than last year, and rightly so. From 3:00 to 9:30, the literary community invites you to sample more than 20 different writers hosted by 12 small businesses on Park and King Street.

Tim Gilmore, Jax by Jax

We’ve come to know that there is usually a reason behind the madness when someone takes on the responsibility of planning an event, and Tim is no different. For Tim, Jax by Jax really started years ago with his own work, and the books he’s published about characters like Eartha White, Virginia King, Ottis Toole, and more. The stories he chooses to delve into are always about a Jacksonville character, and Tim does plenty of research, both primary and secondary, to get the complete picture of the character in question. He’s had amazing success when it comes to the launches of these books, and has been fortunate in how well the books have been received by the community. Now, Jax by Jax is his way of trying to give back. His goal? “Make something that would do for others what others had done for him.” By giving other writers the chance to experience the feeling of a community launch, he hopes Jax by Jax will not only encourage other writers to share their work, but that it will encourage our community to tap into those writers and support them.

Tim views our city as a character and a “stage,” so what better way to set the stage than to “use small independent businesses as venues?” With the venues spread out along King and Park Street, Jax by Jax is designed for folks to be able to sample a writer’s work by hearing them perform excerpts or short works. Essentially, you aren’t committing yourself to a long reading or performance, but to manageable, social bites — giving you the chance to move on if the reader isn’t quite your style. Tim gave us a tip that if you really stay on task, you can hear as many as 8 writers, but that’s up to you.

JAX by JAx logo

In addition to giving a stage to Jacksonville writers, Tim really wants to use Jax by Jax as a way to say to the city, “Hey, look at what you’re doing.” Tim goes even further, saying t hat “anyone who cares about Jacksonville should attend [Jax by Jax], whether you love the city, or think it needs work.” If you’re looking to meet fellow passionate Jacksonville-ites, this event is right up your alley. While this event may sound like it’s only for the literary inclined, I’d ask you to give it chance. With so many great bars and restaurants on the tour, and with so many fabulous folks walking around, you’ll be hard pressed to have a bad time.

Jax by Jax is the sort of event that keeps on giving, even after it’s over. You won’t want to miss out on the Jax by Jax after party at Evervess Art Studios across from CoRK on King Street. While the festival throughout the day is free, make sure you get your $10 ticket for the after party. It gives you access to all the writers from the day with book signings, music, food, and drinks (for as long as it lasts).Tim Gilmore, Jax by Jax

With a variety of writers present at the event, you can be sure there’ll be something you’ll enjoy. Everything from poetry, short stories, and graphic novels will be read throughout the day, and yes, let me repeat: they are all local writers! That means that every word you hear throughout the day was written right here in Jax by a Jax writer. Talk about really diving into the heart of the city!

Check out the writers and the kinds of stories you’ll find on the 14th by visiting the Jax by Jax website where you can find a printable event guide for the day. We’ll see you there!


Guanabana Artisan Ice Pops

I was one of those kids who had an evil mom. You know, the mom who won’t let you eat junk food because she cares about your health. While I watched my friends rip into their fruit roll-ups, Pringles, pudding, and Gushers (which, in hindsight, are really weird and gross), I sadly unwrapped my peanut butter sandwich and wished my apple was a green apple Jolly Rancher. This junk food deprivation (otherwise known as “eating real food”) meant that I had to wait for college before I could eat as unhealthily as I liked. Then I realized that I wasn’t missing out on much. The thing is, eating garbage isn’t all that tasty when your taste buds get accustomed to eating food the way it’s supposed to be eaten. Julieta Mosqueda, co-owner of Guanabana Artisan Ice Pops, had the same realization when she herself became a mom. She and Oliver, her husband, decided that people should be able to have their cake and eat it, too. In other words, the Mosquedas wanted to make unhealthy treats healthy, and make them taste even more tempting than a stick of food dye and high fructose corn syrup.IMG_9668fOriginally from Colombia, Julieta studied English in Kansas City and planned on entering the nursing program. Meanwhile, Oliver, who was born in Venezuela, worked in the food industry. After 20 years of working in restaurants, Oliver was pretty sure he wanted to keep working with food. They eventually moved to Jacksonville around 2005 and decided they were in a city where they could raise their family.

The leap to popsicle seemed pretty big to me, so I asked Julieta what made her start thinking about making pops. Ultimately, it came down to a desire to give her children healthy treats. “In Colombia, popsicles are 100% fruit,” she said. “There are no artificial colors or sugars. That’s what we’re used to.” She was surprised, and a bit freaked out, at the ingredients of store-bought pops–particularly the stark lack of fruit in many of them. Julieta and Oliver decided they were going to try making pops for themselves and see what happened.

In the beginning, the recipes were a combination of their favorite flavors. “We just started mixing things,” Julieta said. With 3 children eager to eat pops every day, Julieta and Oliver had their fair share of honest tasters. Once they had some decent pops, Julieta and Oliver began giving them to friends and family to get even more input. This helped the Mosquedas learn the beloved American flavors, like chocolate, peanut butter, and green tea. Guanabana Pops has the Latin flavors that Julieta and Oliver are used to, but they’ve since added more American flavors, as well as vegan pops for those who don’t want milk. Last time we spoke, Guanabana had over 40 flavors, but I’m sure their list has grown since then. No matter the flavor, though, you can bet that the pops are exactly what they say they are. Order a mango pop and you’re going to get fresh mango, and that’s about it.V__5605IMG_9493fAfter Julieta and Oliver were confident that their pops tasted good, they began selling. Guanabana started in December of 2013 in smaller settings. Oliver first sold out of the famous lime-green bicycle in June of 2014, after months of sanding and polishing in the garage. By August, Guanabana was selling at RAM and Jaxsons Night market. Now, you can find a Guanabana freezer in the Magnificat Cafe downtown, Tres Leches, Antojitos Colombianos in Baymeadows, the Conscious Eats stand at farmers markets, and Hola Cuban Cafe in Fernandina. Julieta and Oliver are up for selling anywhere, at any time. Birthday parties, weddings, festivals–you name it, they’ll want to share their pops there. They are hoping to eventually make it into natural grocery stores, like Whole Foods or Earth Fare.

Julieta and Oliver are all about supporting locals, which is why they get their fruits from farmers markets and farms around the area. Some exotic fruits, like the famous guanabana, come straight from South America so that Oliver and Julieta can bring the flavors of their childhood right to Jax. Currently, Julieta’s favorite pop is the moraberry, and I think I might agree with her. The pop is a beautiful reddish-pink, with a sweet and tart flavor similar to blackberries. Oliver loves the coconut pop, which reminds him of the fruits he grew up eating.guyabana-0028guyabana-0025guyabana-0053guyabana-0034guyabana-0057guyabana-0013Julieta’s favorite part about making pops is tasting the finished product. She thinks trying the pops for the first time is exciting. “It’s so different after you freeze it, as opposed to tasting the mix,” she said. As far as Jacksonville, Julieta loves the small businesses that she sees everywhere. Before Guanabana started, she didn’t know much about downtown or the quainter areas of Jax. Now, she’s a huge food truckie, and would like to have one eventually.

It’s exciting to me that eating healthy can taste so good. I’m even more excited that it’s okay for me to still eat popsicles as an adult. Guanabana has helped me realize that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy delicious, fruity, sweet, and healthy popsicles. Guanabana ensures that, no matter your age or taste preference, you’re going to find something deliciously healthy to keep you cool on those summer days. If you’re thinking, “Hey, it’s fall now,” just remember that we live in Jacksonville, where there is no such thing as fall or winter. So when it’s Christmas Eve and you’re in a t-shirt and shorts, you can probably find Oliver riding around town on a bright green bike. Be sure to flag him down to try a pop that even my mom would approve of.guyabana-0066

SITC-Written By Rebecca

Unity Plaza // Riverside

Concerts, seminars, new restaurants, oh my! The long awaited Unity Plaza had its opening ceremony on Tuesday, and we’re pretty confident that the new space in Brooklyn Station is going to deliver on its many promises to the community. What was once a retention pond on Riverside Ave will now be “a non-profit urban park, created to uplift, educate, entertain, and electrify our community,” according to the plaza’s mission. The plaza’s three pillars, Wellness, Community, and Performing Arts, are designed to provide the neighborhood with another interactive and cultural space, similar to the way that Hemming Park interacts with downtown Jax.  Unity Plaza’s construction is nearing completion, with finishing touches going on at both HOBNOB and Sbraga & Co, two of Jacksonville’s most anticipated new restaurants which will be opening this fall.

Besides these fanatic restaurants, we are very excited about the new on-site WJXT studio. Say what?? On October 26  at 11 am, River City Live, a brand new show about Jax events, people and places, will officially air from Unity Plaza. We can’t wait to catch the first episode! Be sure to tune in!Unity Plaza (26) Unity Plaza (35) Unity Plaza (44) Unity Plaza (46)Unity Plaza (54)The amphitheater park will feature outdoor restaurants and a fixed space for performances. Jason Faulkner, architect of Studio9, spoke about his inspiration behind creating a landmark of Jacksonville out of a retention pond.  “This is the beginning of so much more than a blank canvas,” he said. “It’s about creating a legacy.” Unity Plaza is definitely a legacy that we are excited to witness.Unity Plaza (69) Unity Plaza (76)One of the things we love the most about Unity Plaza is that it’s a non-profit. Executive Director Jen Jones has said, “We are not just a non-profit; we are a partner for non-profits.” The idea is to unite the Jacksonville community at this park, which already has a billion events lined up, including the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra on October 2 at 8pm, a National Beer Mile Run on November 14, and UP Winter Wonderland starting December 26. Feeling bored on a Friday night? Chances are, Unity Plaza will have something you’ll enjoy.

We loved seeing Flagship Romance perform after the ribbon cutting! They sounded wonderful, and it was great to see some Somewhere in the City friends at such a historical event for Jacksonville.Unity Plaza (80)Somewhere in the City is always looking for new people to meet. We’re confident we’ll be meeting a ton of interesting locals at Unity Plaza. We hope to catch you there!