Over the past several years, Amy Moody has been telling her famous father he needed to get into the restaurant business.
“She’d say, ‘Dad, you need to get involved with a restaurant, a good one, to have somewhere to put all these trophies and all this (memorabilia),’ ” legendary former Florida football player and coach Steve Spurrier said Monday. “I said, ‘You’re exactly right.’ ”
Spurrier is going to have that place now.
The Gator great is teaming up with Celebration Pointe to build a restaurant — Spurrier’s restaurant and bar — at the growing development in a lot just across the street from the movie theater.
The restaurant will be 8,400 square feet and have a 1,500-square-foot sports memorabilia exhibit that will feature many of Spurrier’s trophies and awards, including his 1966 Heisman Trophy, which has been tucked away in a closet at his Crescent Beach home.
“It will be casual, not too fancy, of course,” Spurrier said. “We’ll have televisions all over the place. We want a dining experience with great American fare and maybe a chance for people that want to see the Heisman, instead (of it) being in the closet down at my beach house.
“We’re going to put it out in the open somewhere and hopefully draw a little attention that way.”
The restaurant also may feature a rooftop bar.
“We’re looking to see how we can make this restaurant as exciting as possible,” said former UF basketball player Svein Dyrkolbotn, principal owner of Viking Companies, the developer of Celebration Pointe. “That’s something we’re looking into.
“I feel fortunate to be able to team with a name like Steve Spurrier.”
The restaurant’s construction will begin soon, with a target date for opening in about a year, before the start of the 2020 football season.
Spurrier’s name will be on the restaurant, but he is not responsible financially in the construction and/or operation.
Spurrier and Celebration Pointe are conducting a search for someone to manage and run the restaurant. The deadline to apply for the job is July 30th, with a plan to have an operator in place at some point in September.
“I really appreciate all the people that are partnering with me here,” Spurrier said. “This is a good group. We’re going to find a restaurant person that knows his business and he’s good at it. We’ll give him the opportunity to run it and be successful the way that person probably has been in the past.
“That’s what we’re looking for and that’s what this announcement is about, to let people know we’re going to have this restaurant here.”
Spurrier said the operator will be free to run the restaurant his/her way.
“I was blessed and fortunate that I had three coaching jobs at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. … and I had three pro jobs also, Tampa Bay Bandits, Washington Redskins and the Apollos in the Alliance League this past year,” he said. “I was in charge in all but one of them (the Redskins), so I’ve learned, let the guy that’s in charge do his thing.
“We will certainly plan on doing that here at Celebration Pointe.”
Spurrier will not be part of the day-to-day operation of the restaurant, but said he’ll spend plenty of time among the patrons.
“I definitely plan on making appearances,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a table somewhere around that maybe I can get most of the time. Yeah, I’ll be here in and out a bunch.”
Spurrier said the restaurant will be a great place for Gators to meet. Celebration Pointe already is somewhat of a Gator destination. Football coach Dan Mullen and basketball coach Mike White hold their call-in radio shows at the development during their respective seasons.
Spurrier and Celebration Pointe are hoping Spurrier’s gives UF fans another reason to head west.
“We all need something to celebrate in life,” Spurrier said. “This restaurant coming a year from now will be a place where we can celebrate a whole bunch of Gator victories and other things as we go through the year.”