Downtown Jacksonville cafe closes, cites safety concerns, parking issues, rising food costs as reasons

After three years, Mag’s Café in downtown Jacksonville is officially closing its doors.

Owner Bobby Reynolds said on Thursday there were several reasons why he decided to close, but the main reason was safety concerns.

He said he knows the city is working to revitalize downtown, but he doesn’t think he can wait that long.

All day Thursday, customers could only look through the gates at Mag’s Café. They were met with a sign the restaurant was closing and possibly moving to somewhere else.

Employee Michael Truitt who was working on the cafe’s final catering order on Thursday said he was grateful for his job downtown.

“I really enjoyed working here. I wish there was some type of way it could stay open,” Truitt said.

Reynolds said trying to keep staff, the increase in food prices, downtown parking and safety concerns just became too much.

“It’s just getting to the point where stress and anxiety is just not worth the time and effort that we have to do,” Reynolds said. “What pushed me over the edge was the last couple of weeks I actually had a couple of my employees assaulted by homeless individuals. We reached out to JSO and they really haven’t been able to help us resolve those situations.”

Customers said they understand and wish Reynolds the best.

Joe Johnson, who works for the city, said he came to the cafe almost every day.

“It’s a little upsetting. You know this is something that could’ve been a really big part of downtown, but…unfortunately, this is kind of how things go,” Johnson said.

The small business on the corner of Laura and Monroe Streets across from James Weldon Johnson Park sees lots of foot traffic.

Reynolds said the support of city hall, downtown businesses and federal buildings is how they survived.

The city has ongoing plans to revitalize downtown, but Reynolds said it only seems to be happening in certain parts of downtown.

“I know they are building some apartments close by here. I know James Weldon Johnson Park just did a renovation and are having activities. But there’s not enough support in the evening time to support us to even be open,” Reynolds said.

He’s built a great reputation and said fresh foods and hospitality are what they are known for.

“It’s sad. I’ll miss it,” Reynolds said.

But he said the health and safety of his family and his customers must come first.

Reynolds said he may or may not return to the restaurant business, but right now he wants to relax. He said he appreciates all the relationships he’s built in the last three years.

But if Reynolds had to make a hard decision to shut down, how many more businesses in downtown Jacksonville would have to do the same in the future?

News4JAX reached out to the city to see if it has received complaints about how businesses are being affected by those who are experiencing homelessness but it did not immediately respond.

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