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Starling's in San Marco to become gourmet market

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Starling's in San Marco to become gourmet market

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By CHRISTOPHER CALNAN

The Times-Union

Starling's Market, a San Marco mainstay closed last month, and the owner of a restaurant across the street plans to operate a gourmet market at the location.

Restaurateur Matthew Medure said Tuesday the new business, across from his restaurant, Matthew's, will sell produce, in addition to sauces, meat, seafood and ready-to-heat meals beginning in February.

Although he's still in the planning stages for the market, Medure said he's considering it as a late-night spot for coffee, specialty drinks and desserts.

Medure agreed to lease the 1,914-square-foot building in September, replacing Starling's. Business owner Gene Starling was out of town Tuesday and couldn't be reached for comment.

However, his wife, Margay Starling, said her husband is retiring after 23 years in the produce business.

"The Starlings will miss all of the customers, particularly all of the kids," she said. "My husband loved playing with the kids. We will miss all of that. As far as getting up at 5:30 in the morning and staying until 7 p.m., we won't miss that."

Jennifer Price, publisher of San Marco Magazine and president of the neighborhood's merchants association, said Starling's will be missed.

"I think it offered something we now don't have," she said. "That was a fixture in San Marco for a long time. We need a little market like that in San Marco. I think it's a sad thing to see it go."

Medure, who operates a restaurant in Ponte Vedra Beach in addition to his Hendricks Avenue place, said he's been considering a retail extension to Matthew's for a while. He's discussed the produce market location with the Starlings several times.

"I've always had my eye on that place, waiting for Gene to get tired," Medure said with a laugh.

Starling, a 68-year-old Lawtey native, operated produce stands at three different Jacksonville locations before coming across the vacant gas station on San Marco Boulevard in 1992, Margay Starling said.

"He said, 'I sure would like to sell some oranges there.' And that was all she wrote," she said.

In addition to a strong walk-in business, Starling's also did a brisk business in gift baskets and shipping fruit, especially during the holiday season.

Starling said her husband has been experiencing back pain from the years of lifting 50-pound produce crates. The ailment played a role in his decision to retire.

"He just didn't want to be in pain much anymore," she said.

The property is owned by Delores Jabour, wife of the founder of Karl's Clothiers, Karl Jabour. Jabour bought the property in 1989, according to city records.

Jabour's son, Jay, said the site was an Amoco gas station before Starling converted it to a market.

christopher.calnanjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4404

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._16895174.shtml.

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I'm glad to see that someone's already moving in with a new business, and the building won't sit vacant. It goes to show you that San Marco is far from being "stagnant". I hope the business does well, considering that Publix might move in and add competition.

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San Marco is really far from stagnant. The area just continues to boom with little shops and places to eat. it is truly a prime hangout.

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lol, it's so prime that Southbank developers are trying to associate their projects with the name "San Marco". What's in a name? :rolleyes:

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The Southbank construction all want to capitalize on the success of San Marco and its location. The area could wind up like Coral Gables.

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This is why southbank residential development is doing much better than northbank development. The Soutbank borders San Marco, while the northbank borders Springfield (which I believe will be a really hot neighborhood, but not yet)

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I like what they are doing with the sidewalk and landscaping on north Main St. It has really picked up the area.

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