Last Thursday I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Kemper who is the executive chef at Jaxon Social. Jaxon Social has to be one of the most visually interesting restaurants I have had the opportunity to visit. The exterior of the building features smooth curves and sharp angles that immediately catch your eye. On the patio there are large comfortable lounge chairs and sofas for guests to unwind and enjoy the social experience.
The interior pervades a sense of modern style and sophisticated swagger throughout. The interior boasts a large dark-wood bar with a granite countertop, intimate white leather booths, and an upstairs loft. Large glass pane windows above the main entrance provide natural light during the day time. I was told that, “the inspiration was to create an environment that drew in beach natives, and provided a rich and comfortable environment that brings the casual nature of Jax Beach to the patrons.”
As Matt and I began talking he told me that the name of the restaurant was intended to convey, “a social experience within the Jacksonville community and show case what Jacksonville is all about.” The new concept of Jaxon Social kicked into gear in April 2014. Matt told me that he was originally from Kentucky but has lived in Jacksonville for over twenty years now and that he had spent the last fourteen years working his way up within the restaurant business. His experience stems from several different restaurants throughout Jacksonville such as Lulu’s Waterfront Grill, Bonefish Grill and others where he fine tuned his craft.
I also wanted to find out what the restaurant’s top sellers are for new and regular customers. Matt told me that Poseidon’s Pasta which is made with crab meat, shrimp, crawfish, and tasso ham is the most popular menu item. Other favorites include the Sous Vide Sirloin, Turkey Cordon Gouda, and Unami Tuna. Jaxon Social also specializes in a wide variety of cocktails in which they hand make their own mixers and cocktail infusions. The “Slap N Tickle” made with jalapeno, pineapple infused vodka and house muddled cilantro is amongst the customers’ favorites. Other signature drinks include the “Ying Yang”, “Basic Instinct”, “Socially Awkward”, and “Whisky Richard”. The “Purple Rain” (pictured below) is a new concept created in honor of music legend Prince, who recently passed.
Jaxon Social keeps it interesting throughout the year by staying involved with local community events such as Brew at the Zoo and hosting Halloween Parties with costume contests and New Years Eve Parties with DJs . They also contribute back to the Jacksonville community by supporting the Jay Fund and programs that aid our wounded warriors. They have also created a digital VIP club and starting a social club in the upstairs loft.
Matt also said that what he perceives as the unique aspects of his business are the facts that everything is made from scratch from the kitchen to the bar. The staff let’s the quality of products do the majority of the talking. They have a product that everyone takes pride in and works hard on to ensure customer satisfaction on a daily basis. When a customer reads the menu the items are approachable with a modern take, “American classics with a modern twist.”Jaxon Social features a bar which is very heavy on infusions and they make their own flavored liquors. It usually takes between two weeks and up to a month to infuse their liquors. The bartenders and kitchen staff are constantly coming up with unique ideas and creative ways to make their own syrups and mixers. As an example they use Agave for sweeteners. In the words of Chef Kemper, “If you haven’t been here lately, you haven’t been here.”
For more info on whats happening at Jaxon Social visit; www.jaxonsocial.com.
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Written and published for BUZZ Magazine, April 2016.