Roy’s, a Jacksonville Beach restaurant, closes after 18 years

JACKSONVILLE BEACH | Widespread rumors that popular restaurant Roy’s was closing its doors for good came true over the weekend.

An employee confirmed Sunday morning that the restaurant had closed Saturday evening after serving its last customers. It was not immediately clear why the restaurant — which opened in 2003 at its location at 2400 3rd Street S. — closed.

Several messages left with the restaurant’s management team were not returned.

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News began circulating on social media a week ago that the fine-dining Hawaiian fusion restaurant was planning to permanently close after 18 years in Jacksonville Beach, prompting multiple messages of shock and dismay among Roy’s customers.

Late last week, Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman confirmed to The Times-Union that Roy planned to close. His comments followed a family birthday celebration last Wednesday at the restaurant.

“I’m sorry to see Roy close. He’s a longtime favorite here at the Beaches,” Hoffman said. “It’s a great location, though, in a beautiful mall, and I’m confident the space won’t be empty for long.”

In addition to its cuisine, the Jacksonville Beach restaurant – and its founder and namesake Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi – were known for hosting the annual “A Night at Roy’s” fundraising gala to benefit the Monique Burr Children’s Foundation.

“We have not been contacted about Roy’s closing. However, this is very sad news,” Lynn Layton, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in an email to The Times-Union. “Roy and the team at Roy’s have been amazing partners for MBF over the years. We will miss this partnership for sure.”

As of Sunday evening, the restaurant’s parent company, Dallas-based SSCP Management Inc., had not responded to requests for comment, and Roy’s website still listed the Jacksonville Beach location. An OpenTable link to make reservations, however, showed none available.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi, founder of Roy's, often came to the Jacksonville Beach restaurant bearing his name and joined the kitchen team to prepare dinner for the annual fundraiser for the Monique Burr Foundation,

Few Roy are still open

The closure of the Jacksonville Beach restaurant leaves only one location still operating in Florida: Roy’s Bonita Springs.

The upscale restaurant got its start in Honolulu in 1988, when James Beard Award-winning Yamaguchi founded his original eponymous restaurant and oversaw its expansion across the continental United States and overseas, according to the restaurant’s history.

In 2000, Bloomin’ Brands Inc., the parent company of Outback Steakhouse and other casual dining restaurants, acquired the Roy’s brand. In 2015, Bloomin’ sold it to SSCP Management Inc., a press release announcing the acquisition showed. SSCP Management also operates 70 Applebee’s restaurants and 47 Sonic Drive-In restaurants, according to a recent report in an industry magazine. QSR.

In 2003, Bloomin’ introduced the Jacksonville Beach concept, where it quickly became known in Northeast Florida for its “Aloha Hour” cocktails and appetizers, fresh seafood, sushi and hospitality.

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According to customers, the restaurant in Jacksonville Beach was the favorite place to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and engagements.

In July 2017, the restaurant underwent a streamlined revamp, including an updated menu as part of a nationwide revamp of the chain.

At one point, the Roy’s had about 29 restaurants, including the one in Jacksonville Beach, according to its corporate website and past press releases.

But in recent years, many of them have closed permanently, as local publications and industry reports show. Only five restaurants appear to remain open, according to the company website.

Other recent Roy closures include:

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