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First Coast

An Early Look At Downtown Jacksonville’s Cowford Chophouse

After nearly four years since the building’s purchase, the Cowford Chophouse is set to open for the general public next week on Thursday.

The high-end restaurant promises to be a downtown Jacksonville culinary destination.

Construction work continues along the sidewalk on Ocean Street outside the Chophouse, formerly the old Bostwick bank building.

Meanwhile, inside the 115 year old edifice, jazz notes bounced around the elegantly curated interior as owner Jacques Klempf took a group of reporters on a tour of the three-floor building.

Klempf said little was salvageable in the old building, but whatever was is incorporated into the Chophouse’s design.

“It was a very tedious job. As far as repurposing things, the marble wainscoting that is on the Bay Street side, there’s also marble wainscoting on the Ocean Street side behind the banquette — we were able to salvage that from the building and repurpose it and put it back the way it was. All the wood in the building that is on these tables is 300-year-old heart of pine that we were able to repurpose,” he said.

Cut into those pine tables are blue-glass replicas of the St. Johns River and locally-painted art depicting the cows that originally made Cowford famous line the walls. Cowford was the city’s name when it was originally founded.

Klempf said he’s never been a part of a project quite like this. “This was an incredible challenge to get done,” he said.

Although the $6 million steakhouse retains the building’s historic character, it boasts all the modern accoutrements guests in 2017 have become accustomed to, including USB ports, top-of-the-line kitchen equipment and a green energy footprint.

Lead architect Milan Malinovic said his team visited the building daily and reviewed hundreds of photographs during the design phase to capture the structure’s essence.

“It is very challenging to add spirit into an old building if you’re not listening to what the old building has to say and to guide you [in] which way you have to go,” he said.

The 380 seat Cowford Chophouse is set to open its doors next Thursday with lunches ranging from 10 to 55 dollars and dinner starting at 15 dollars and ending at a whopping 145 dollars.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk