Town Center News

Thank You for your support of Beaches Town Center!

In 1991, a group of proactive citizens founded the Beaches Town Center Agency - a coalition designed to work in partnership with the merchants and cities of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach to ensure protection of the business area's unique character. 

Through fundraising efforts, the BTCA was able to create synergy in the central business district and across two city governments with the goal of making the area more inviting and pedestrian-friendly. These efforts also expanded into major enhancements for the area, such as landscaping and the addition of public amenities included park benches, bike racks, brick sidewalks, maps, wayfinding signs, and the Holiday Lighting display and decorations. 

Many people assume these amenities have been paid for by the city governments when in fact, they're the product of the BTCA's hard work.

As humans, we’ve become hyper focused on the art of making things easy. 

We trained ourselves to shop in stores with the word ‘convenient’ in the name, even taught ourselves how to buy groceries from the comfort of our own couches. And when you combine this obsession with the fact that we’re living in a world that thrives on constant forward progression, often at breakneck speed, it’s quite easy to see how convenience became king.

In theory, these helpful innovations are supposed to be revolutionary. 

Amazon will tell you how much time you saved by shopping with them from the comfort of your own home, time that you once wasted by visiting their brick and mortar competitors. And you’ll be so happy to think of all the time you now have! All because you chose to buy your toilet paper from a computer instead of a cashier. And with time being such a precious thing, you’ll now be free to use it on more wonderful things, like finishing a 500-piece puzzle that has been plaguing you, or taking your kids to the movies. 

And just like that, another big name corporation will have Pavlov’s Dog’d you into thinking convenience equates to good. 

We are all feeling it - the unrelenting weight of the world as we wade through COVID-19, confront social injustice, debate the state of the world and brace for the holidays (reminder to breathe...). But what’s cool about the mind is that it is ever-present. We are in control of the information we feed our imagination. Now more than ever, books have been a refreshing escape - a portal into our own intimate, parallel universes where we can challenge our perceptions or stoke our nostalgia. Rona Brinlee - owner of The BookMark and written word connoisseur - points out:

Helping Mamma in the kitchen. It’s a memory most of us can relate to but have experienced in profoundly different ways. From hazy recollections of cookie dough on fingertips to steam clouds from pasta pots, food has always been about a bond. Be it with the land or with each other, food is what brings us together, and that is exactly what fuels Chef Christopher Polidoro’s passion for fine cuisine. 

Let’s time-warp back to the beginning when Chris was just starting to dabble in the art of food.  Growing up in Queens, NY - a dense urban neighborhood on the western end of Long Island - it was an escape for Chris to hang out with Mamma in the kitchen. Chris remembers it was in grade school that he “mastered the perfect grilled cheese,” and would aid in preparing intricate baked goods, mashed potatoes, and every definition of comfort food for friends and family, especially around the holiday season. He takes pride in “carrying on a family legacy,” and recalls working with his hands, creating works of edible art a sensual experience that made one of the most populated counties in New York City feel like home.

Did you know that working with a personal trainer could (and should) go beyond benefiting your physical health? In this article, we delve into what makes a great trainer, how they can help you achieve maximum success and wellness, and what that means for, well, humanity (no pressure). 

What better example to bring to your finger-tips than our local legend Grady Zapata. For 10+ years, Grady has been the sole proprietor of Intensity Personal Training, the Beaches Town Center’s “Hidden Gym” that sits right above Ocean 60 restaurant overlooking First Street in Atlantic Beach, FL. With views of palm trees, powerlines, and our magnificent ocean horizon you immediately feel a sense of peace followed by that little ping of anticipation to see what lessons Grady has in store for the day. 

We want to say THANK YOU once again to all of our amazing neighbors, friends, customers and sponsors who all came together to support Coastal Carnivale for another year! Thanks to your buying tickets and participating in our amazing silent auction, we were able to raise thousands for Beaches Town Center. 

But where does this money go, you may ask?
Directly back to BTC. 

Without events like this (and without help from you!) everything from beautifying the area, hanging holiday lights and putting on free community events would be impossible - which is why it means so much to us when you choose to put your money back into our little area! 

A special thank you to this year’s CC2020 sponsors:
Beaches Go Green | Donovan Heating & Air | SouthCoast Capital | Night Lites | Al’s Pizza | Coop303 | Flying Iguana | Mezza | BreakThru | One Ocean Resort & Spa Please

CLICK HERE to view our photo gallery from this year’s event!

New to Beaches Town Center, the father-daughter duo behind Milo Fashion are working hard to bring the fine art of Italian leathergoods to folks at the beach. We chatted with Sabrina Chaker
to get the scoop on everything about her newest venture!
Milo Headshot
A: Sabrina is a recent graduate from the University of North Florida where she received her bachelor’s degree in marketing and economics and her MBA with a concentration in marketing. During her undergrad years, she worked at a boutique in Jacksonville Beach where she got her first taste of local retail and loved it. While completing her MBA, she started working with her father to launch Milo Fashion.
Mokhtar was raised on the Mediterranean shores and travelled extensively around the world. After a career in technology, and thru retail experiences with global luxury houses across Europe,
the Americas and Asia, learned the beautiful trade of leather craftsmanship and its deep heritage.

From StyleWeek to Coastal Carnivale, 2018 was remarkable year filled with amazing memories for Beaches Town Center-- all of which we were happy to share with you! Check out some of these events below.

CC 2018

COASTAL CARNIVALE - February 9th, 2018

The successor to BTC’s Full Moon Party, Coastal Carnivale lit up the night this past February with a glittering Venetian-meets-Ocean theme. Masquerade masks were abundant, and so was amazing entertainment, food and drinks. All in an effort to raise money for BTC’s 2018 landscaping initiative, there were spectacular raffle prizes donated and nearly 100% participation from our amazing merchants.

Check out photos from the event here.

There’s an undeniable twinkle in Chris Wooten’s eye when he reminisces on a lifetime spent in Neptune Beach. “This 200 First Street block was my life,” he says, referring to the area where Sliders Oyster Bar currently sits. “I just love my neighborhood.”

From days spent as a boy with his father at Willoughby’s Auto Center (the business that originally sat where the restaurant does today) to afternoon meetings with the local surf team down the street, you can’t talk about any landmark in the neighborhood without hitting on a fond memory. Wooten scrubbed dishes at the oyster bar as a teen, then eventually went on to deliver their seafood after scoring a job at his father-in-law’s warehouse. Even his first date with his wife happened at, you guessed it-- Sliders.

When it comes to running a business and a family simultaneously, there’s no shortage of challenges. From balancing school schedules and business hours to changing diapers and menus, being a mom at home and a boss at work takes a special level of finesse.

To gain a little insight on what it takes to master both sides, we chatted with some seriously boss babes who run businesses around Beaches Town Center. From restaurants to retail, here’s what they had to say:

Emilie Christenson
Mom to Carlie, 21 and Devon, 19 and Owner of Jaffi’s Boutique

Q: How has being a mother changed your outlook on work and business?
A: Being a mom has changed my outlook on EVERYTHING! I quickly realized how precious life is and how much influence I have as an individual to hurt or help others - helping people became a passion for me both personally and professionally and motherhood made me see myself differently. At first my focus was on being a positive role model and setting the best possible example for my children no matter what. But eventually, I realized we are all "mothers" to someone, and I try to touch as many lives as I can in a positive and productive way.

Q: What challenges does motherhood bring to owning and operating a business?
A: Balancing work and family is a challenge for sure - but when I went back to work after having our first child my Dad said, "don't worry honey, it's quality not quantity that matters - make the time you have count". I've found that to be incredible insight and amazing advice.  What rewards? The reward of being able to share my personal and professional life with my kids has been invaluable. Being self employed I get to manage my time, effort and energy to focus on what's most important to me and my family. My husband and I have also been able to show our girls that hard work can be lucrative, fun, and rewarding at the same time.

Caught between the waves of the First Coast and the putting green in Ponte Vedra, the Beaches have often found themselves at the crux of a fashion-based identity crisis. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, it can often be difficult finding a place to shop. Recognizing a dire need in the local market, husband and wife duo Julie and Tom Weber made quick work of filling in the gaps and thus, T-Dubs Mercantile was born. Part effortlessly cool retail space, part speakeasy dive bar, the store is the hip place you dream of finding yourself in - a space where you can shop for a shirt and mingle with local legends over a drink, all at the same time.
Beaches Go Green returns to Deck The Chairs for another year with their jaw-dropping installation- The Octopus Garden, a single-use plastic awareness art installation.
The display will be up and running every night, now through 1/1/20, so swing by and check it out!
For more info about Beaches Go Green and the Octopus Garden, visit their website by clicking here

NEW In 2019, DONNA Marathon Weekend will start and finish at the Beaches Town Center! Held February 8–10, 2019, DONNA Marathon Weekend will include a 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultramarathon and Event Challenges and will again fill the Beaches of Northeast Florida with thousands of runners from all 50 states and many countries. Participants enjoy an even flatter, faster Boston-Qualifying marathon course that takes them through the four beautiful beach communities of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach with scenic views and an outpouring of crowd support. Runners can expect water stations nearly every mile, race day temps averaging 55° F, and streets lined with a 26-mile beach block party. And it’s pink. Very pink.  There’s a reason this event has been recognized by CNN Travel as one of the “Seven Marathons Worth the Trip” and “Favorite Charity Race” from the readers of Women’s Running Magazine. They are the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  Start Training. 

When you think of an intense workout, the last thing you might imagine is fun. But that’s what Kiki Cunningham, the bubbly blonde trainer at Intensity Personal Training, wants to change. With a huge smile and infectious laugh, her passion for everything athletic radiates through the intimate space with beach-front views.

We chatted with her to get to know a little bit more about her training style and how she got started.

Started by husband and wife duo, Hugo and Debra Saavedra, Saavy Naturals has been the Beaches Town Center community’s go-to for everything that smells good and is good for you. From all-natural body scrubs to luxurious soaps, their products are known as “a feast for your senses and food for your skin” and they’re careful to refer to themselves as “chefs, not chemists.” And it’s easy to see why-- with a background in culinary ventures, they’re experts on creating products so pure, they’re good enough to eat.

With their names on the menus of Spago, Patina and The Water Grill, the two have been mainstays at many 5-star restaurants in Southern California. After years of cooking and growing herbs and edible flowers, they started experimenting with them in new ways, creating the line of amazing products you know today.

After taking over KYDS Children’s Boutique in 2017, owners and twin sisters Rachel and Melody were on a mission to make the space as fun and magical as can be. Before they knew it, their boutique was bursting at the seams with adorable merchandise—which is exactly why, when given the chance, they jumped on packing up and moving business across the Courtyard.

With the old First Street Gallery space available, they gave the store a speedy overhaul—and thus, the new KYDS was born!

To get a peek into their process, we chatted with them about the vision, doing boutique DIY and more below:

Thanks to you, your Beaches Town Center Agency is pleased to say that Coastal Carnival 2018 was a HUGE success! Take a few minutes to watch the Coastal Carnivale Video.

After nearly 100% merchant participation, it was a well-received party and successful fundraiser with amazing auction items, the super-popular Cash Blaster—a complete sell out with over 350 tickets sold!

Funds raised from the event will be going directly to landscape improvement plan

Many thanks to our sponsors as well. They are:
Neptune Beach Plaza
Tribridge Residential
Edward Skinner Jones
St. Augustine Distillery
One Ocean Resort & Spa

It’s no secret that Beaches folks are the smartest around—so it isn’t surprising that Beaches Town Center merchants swept the board this year in the annual Best in Jax polls!

From Best Burger to Best Boutique, the city spoke and let everyone else know just how award-worthy BTC is. And while all of our businesses are winners in our book, these are the ones that snagged the bragging rights:

Dance Trance Fitness
• Best Dance Studio – Folio Weekly
• Best Group Fitness Class – Jacksonville Magazine FabuList

Guaranteed to get your blood pumping, Dance Trance is a welcoming environment for people of all dance skills. Whether you’re a regular like J. Lo or more of an Elaine Benes, their skilled instructors will guide you through upbeat sets designed to encourage fun and shed pounds.

Visit Them When: you’re sick of the same old workout routine, or your palates instructor made you cry during your last session and you’re too embarrassed to go back.

The art of combining old and new is no easy task, though you’d never know it walking around Red Daisy.

On every shelf and surface, elements of years gone by coexist peacefully with their shinier, newer counterparts. Rusted cheese graters long out of commission find new purpose as a display for colorful rows of earrings; grandma’s china lives on, reimagined as a necklace. Around here, owner Tracy Raymond makes sure everything gets a second chance at life.

Self-described as “always selling something”, Raymond started her first business when she was 16. A cocktail cleanup crew called ‘The Party Slaves’, they tidied up after the soirees of family and friends. From there, her path led her through various ventures: sales associate, travel agent, caterer, florist and stay at home mom— when at last, Red Daisy was born.

Jam-packed with things cute beyond comprehension, it’s no wonder why KYDS Children’s Boutique has remained consistently busy since opening its doors.

Within seconds of walking through the giant, green doors, you’re immediately consumed by adorable-- teeny-tiny outfits for baby, funky styles for tweens and blankets so cuddly, you’d want to buy one for yourself. Forget about walking out empty handed; it’s nearly impossible.

All of these great things coupled together made the decision to acquire the business an easy one for twins Rachel and Melody. When the opportunity to buy arose, they grabbed the baton and ran. The fact that they had no prior experience as business owners didn’t matter-- they were going to make it work.

To get to know the two bubbly blondes better, we asked them a few questions about what goes into taking over a business:

The countdown to Coastal Carnivale 2019 is officially on!
Returning for another year, Beaches Town Center’s smash of a fundraiser is back for another round and better than ever. From amazing live music to awesome craft beer from local brewers and food served up by award-winning chefs, there’s a reason to attend for everyone.
Taking place once again at the beautiful One Ocean Resort and Spa, CC 2019 improves upon last year with an even more generous floor plan, giving guests plenty of room for mingling or salsa dancing with friends. And with an open bar and a vibrant, colorful Carnivale theme, it’s the perfect chance to celebrate Mardi Gras early-- not to mention, in a much more fashionable and sophisticated way.

Hurricane Irma has caused much devastation across the state of Florida, including the destruction of Dance Trance’s San Marco studio on September 10th.

The studio was submerged in 3-5 feet of water and was considered a total loss and will thousands of dollars and months to get it back up and running on its feet. The money collected will go towards bills and damages of what the storm claimed.

Jay and Beth Handline, the creators and owners of Dance Trance and beloved staples of the Beaches Town Center community, have sunk every penny into creating the studio and dance fitness program as a whole.

If you are able, we hope you’ll consider a donation to help re-open the studio’s doors, but to also help the Handline’s keep the program in operation for many Jacksonville students.

In addition, the Dance Trance Neptune Beach studio will be selling tops for $10 and pants for $20 in the DT shop to help raise funds. The shop will be open during class hours.

For more information, visit their YouCaring page here

For a dance class schedules and DT Neptune Beach shop hours, visit here:

Kim Rogers wasn’t always immersed in the world of retail.

Originally a restaurant owner in St. Louis, it was a desire to return to Jacksonville that drove her to sell the business and move to Neptune Beach. And through a happenstance business venture proposed by friends, she dove headfirst into the challenge of buying with no prior experience.

The product of this partnership, of course, was Bali Cargo Company- a tiny slice of exotic locale stowed stateside that you could visit without the expensive plane ticket. Behind its doors lays a business that beautifully blends the rich, ornate culture of Bali with the laidback, chill lifestyle of Neptune Beach.

To get a feel for how the gears behind this cool business work, we chatted with Rogers’ about bringing Bali to the Beaches Town Center, the art of buying and more:

The North Beaches Art Walk got its start in 2007 when Beaches art-industry professionals JoAnne Adams, Alice Gartland and Linda Stewart came together in hopes of recreating the popular art walk atmosphere of Downtown.

Through their nurturing and dedication, the event has grown considerably since its infancy. And on every third Thursday of the month, the streets of the Beaches Town Center erupt with creativity.

What was once a small pool of carefully selected artists has now become a bubbling ocean of art, a place where woodworkers comingle with jewelry designers and musicians play into the night. Welcoming to locals and out of towners alike, to say it’s a communal event would be putting it lightly; it’s an experience.

Now, ten years later, the ArtWalk is gearing up to celebrate with a special anniversary bash.

This upcoming Third Thursday, October 19th, attendees will be in for a treat with a performing acrobat team, as well as a caricature artist and two exciting raffles. In addition, a nonprofit team will be launching a campaign to help people understand how valuable teachers are to the Jacksonville community. Adults and children will be able to make art themselves, as they’ll be encouraged to create a visual representation of their favorite teacher.

Following a 9 month renovation of the historic Palms Inn, the owners behind Hotel Palms are hoping their private courtyard and patio space becomes an event venue for locals to use for happy hours, birthday parties, family reunions, trunk shows, weddings, rehearsal dinners, etc. The space, which fits 125 people, is complete with an outdoor fireplace, access to the hotel's beer and wine lounge, and wooden rocking chairs. Click Here To Visit Their Website.

Stevan Brown
(904) 226-8782

100% Natural, Vegan, Cruelty-free—what more could you want? Saavy Naturals are experts in handcrafted beauty, so you know their new Bay Rum & Hemp scent has to be good. A classic scent for men, but great for women too, this scent is packed with amino acids and nutrients to deeply nourish hair and skin. Score this yummy scent in a few different forms: soap bars, bath salts, body cream, bath bombs, salt scrubs, body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

Stop in and shop their store in the Beaches Town Center today!

This spring, the Beaches Town Center Agency issued a friendly contest to all BTC employees: make a 3-5 minute video of the do’s and don’ts of employee parking that was both creative and entertaining.

After much outstanding work and effort, the winning video was selected and the amazing team at Peterbrooke took the prize! As winners, the team split $500 and will receive VIP parking for one month.

Watch their incredible video.

Sliders has a new K9 for Warriors puppy namesake!


K9's for Warriors

Sponsored by the Fletcher High School Interact club. Sliders Seafood Grille has hosted five fundraisers for K9's for Warriors which has raised $50,000. This cute 8-month-old Black Lab is our namesake SLIDER. An owner-surrender, Slider is now being fostered by our very own staff member Samantha Epstein!
Luckily Slider is now also the subject of her new blog, Sliding into Service. In it, she chronicles both the journey of this special pup to becoming a service dog and her own discoveries about the unique and challenging process. Keep up with his AND her progress at and sharing it with your followers!

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