The local couple behind the Jacksonville Abstract Filipino Essence Food Truck plan to open a 40-seat restaurant on Jacksonville Beach this summer.
Chef Jojo Hernandez, who opened his food truck in 2020, has leased a 1,600-square-foot former real estate office with his wife, Desir. At the restaurant, 1500 Beach Blvd. At the Gates of Beach Boulevard Shopping Center next to Engine 15 Brewery, there will be an open kitchen and it is being made from clay. Hota Design Studio in Jacksonville is the architect of the new restaurant.
Hernandez said he chose the location based on the area’s Filipino population, adding that he was “familiar with it” and felt his cooking style would “blend with the tastes of the community.”
Restaurant lease for five years with renewal options. Hernandez says he plans to keep a food truck for now, but will use it for the event and focus his efforts on the restaurant.
From life on the street to permanence:Jacksonville food trucks jump on brick-and-mortar restaurants.
List:These Jacksonville food trucks are now thriving restaurants
More:Purple Root Restaurant in Jacksonville celebrates Filipino food, culture and community
Jojo Hernandez is a native of the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1995. He started working as a chef at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club at the age of 21 and was promoted to Sus Chef and started running the kitchen. He then spent 18 years at Ortega Florida Yacht Club as a soz chef for a banquet chef, before becoming a sauce chef for an executive sos chef, and overseeing lunch and dinner services at the club’s Ala Carte and banquet kitchens.
He left the Yacht Club to pursue his dream, opening the Abstract Filipino Essence Food Truck on March 18, 2020 at Court Urban Food Park as the epidemic broke out. Despite the uncertainty of the period, Hernandez said his first two years were “successful” and that he was “out of gratitude for the Jacksonville community.”
Inspired by his wife and his mother’s cooking, and having two young children at home (now, three), Hernandez is closer and dearer to her with more flexibility and the ability to focus on Filipino food.
Among the top sellers of food trucks are chicken tokino bowls with pansit and lumpia, pork belly sisig and crispy brussels sprouts. He said he plans to include a Sunday brunch at the restaurant, which includes langisilag, a traditional dish that includes langanisa sausage, fried eggs and garlic rice. The plan is to open for Tuesday to Saturday dinners, from 5 to 9 p.m., outside the gate, with a Filipino brunch on Sunday.
Restaurant news sent to your inbox: Sign up for our weekly dining note newsletter
Hernandez says she plans to use her country club experience to sit down and enjoy the meal to create a casual, family dining feeling. He says it will not be a “fast-paced” experience and guests want to feel comfortable.
“I never dreamed I would be able to open a restaurant,” Hernandez said. “I am inspired every day by my wife, Dizzy, and my mother, Maybelline, and my three children, Rezlin Joy, Aiden Eli, and Eugene Jamie.”
Karen Streibich is an avid food lover who reviews restaurants in the Life section. Follow her dining adventures on facebook.com/caroneats on Instagram and #caroneats.