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INSIDE LOOK: New chains lead to new economic opportunities in Tallahassee

Market Square welcomes new food options
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 18:09:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Around Tallahassee’s Market Square, two restaurants recently opened their doors. There’s also a goal of adding more locations in the years to come.

Tallahassee’s Market Square has seen a lot of changes over the last three years. Luke Granlund has been part of that change. A Tallahassee Police Officer years ago, he now owns the city’s first Island Fin Poke. We took you inside his restaurant in the heart of Market Square when it was still under construction last summer. The supply chain presented some challenges. “We had some issues with power supplies,” Granlund said. “We had an issue with electricity. We probably could’ve opened a little bit sooner.” Their grand opening was January 7th.

Right next door, First Watch recently opened their first location in Tallahassee.

“We’ve had this territory for several years now and investigating the market for quite some time,” explained Brad Dermond, the is the franchise owner. “Our oldest graduated from FSU,” Dermond added. “My brother, who is also the franchise owner, his oldest son is a graduate from FSU too. We’ve got some good ties here.”

Dermond said they hired 50 people to get Tallahassee’s First Watch and running.

The addition of these well-known chains can benefit the city as a whole. “To open up here in Tallahassee out in the Market District, it gives us another great restaurant to promote to our visitors,” explained Kerri Post, director of Leon County Division of Tourism.

She and her team work to market Tallahassee to the world. Having bigger names here can play a part in attracting more visitors. “When visitors come to town, one of the top areas, not just that motivates them to travel, but they enjoy while they’re here is going to restaurants,” Post added.

That idea may soon include Connors Steak & Seafood. I asked president and CEO of the chain, Mike Connor, if they have plans for Market Square. In an e-mail, he said, “we have not signed a lease yet. We are very close and have actually begun to work on design plans.”

He also said if they are able to agree to all lease terms they will hire about 125 people and open sometime mid-2024.

As for the recently razed Wendy’s nearby on Thomasville Road, a company spokesperson confirmed to me that they’re rebuilding the restaurant from the ground up. They said the new design will keep customers coming to this location. They plan re-open in early summer and will be hiring management and crew level positions.

When it comes to plans for more Island Fin Poke locations in Tallahassee, Granland said he didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but a second Island Fin Poke location would do really well in Tallahassee.

Dermond said for First Watch, they’re hopeful to maybe find something downtown or maybe something in the Southwood area in the future.