Spurrier uses memorabilia to create one-of-a-kind restaurant – The North State Journal


Steve Spurrier stands in front of a display of helmets from teams he has played or coached for at his new restaurant, the Gridiron Grill, on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Gainesville, Florida. The restaurant also serves as Spurrier’s personal museum. (AP Photo / John Raoux)

GAINESVILLE, Fla .– Steve Spurrier has hidden six decades of memories in closets and cupboards, scattered between his office, home, and nearby beach house. Jerseys and crampons. Helmets and visors. Trophies and trinkets. Rings and photos. The Spurrier collection was as massive as it was impressive.

He stored another assortment of memories in his head: “ball games”, some of them as famous as his remarkable one-liners.

He collected all of these treasures – even the pieces he jotted down from memory – and proudly displayed them at Spurrier’s Gridiron Grid. The one-of-a-kind restaurant opened this week in Gainesville and also serves as the Head Ball Coach’s personal museum.

Spurrier and his investment team spared no expense to create a “chic and relaxed” restaurant that serves farm-to-table dishes. They visited nearly 60 celebrity restaurants around the world, stopping at locations owned by Troy Aikman, John Elway, Gloria Estefan, Pelé, Mike Shanahan and Tiger Woods. They also studied what made others falter.

“We think we have a plan that is in place to be very successful,” Spurrier said. “The location, the food, the service, we have it all. Hope we have it all. We believe we do.

Spurrier gave the Associated Press a tour of the 18,600-square-foot restaurant, which cost more than $ 12 million to build weeks before the opening, and the details and decor stood out.

Spurrier exhibited his Heisman Trophy with 14 championship rings, including Duke’s Atlantic Coast Conference title in 1989, South Carolina’s Southeastern Conference East Division Championship in 2010 and his last of the Orlando Apollos (he claims the Alliance of American Football title after suspension from league operations in April 2019 with the Spurrier Apollos leading the standings at 7-1).

The cleats he wore when he hit a 40-yard basket to beat Auburn 30-27 in 1966 and win the Heisman Trophy are on display, as is his playing ball, both on loan from Florida Sports Hall. of Fame.

It has display cases filled with trophies awarded to former players. There is a mosaic mural of Spurrier from his quarterback days adorning the main entrance, plaques recognizing Spurrier’s “Gator Greats” – the inaugural class included Spurrier, Carlos Alvarez, Emmitt Smith, Errict Rhett, Danny Wuerffel and Percy Harvin – and hundreds of other articles spread all over.

A hole in one on the Augusta National par 3 course. Letters of congratulations from Hall of Fame coaches Pat Summitt and John Wooden. Fifteen keys to the cities. A range of bol watches. Photos featuring President Bill Clinton, artist Sammy Davis Jr. and comedian / actor Jackie Gleason. Photos of Spurrier from every decade of his coaching career, before he switched from hats to his trademark visors.

Speaking of visors, that’s the name of Spurrier’s rooftop bar where, of course, he exhibits a collection of around 250 of them. He also had two specific bar stools reserved for the “HBC” and his wife. , Jerri.

” It’s all me ? Yeah, it’s kinda weird I guess, ”Spurrier said. “But a lot of team photos too, which is very important.”

There are five private dining rooms, making Spurrier a hot spot for meetings and parties. Current Gators football coach Dan Mullen and men’s basketball coach Mike White will air their weekly shows from the restaurant. There’s also a podcast room that houses every helmet from every team that Spurrier has even been associated with.

ESPN has placed a rental deposit on part of the restaurant for the Alabama-Florida game weekend, which is due to be played on September 18.

“This is designed for Gator Nation,” said Freddie Wehbe, who worked with Frankel Media to handle most of the heavy lifting needed to make Spurrier, from concept to completion. “How wouldn’t you do it?” UF is the program that Coach created.

Spurrier was Heisman’s first winner in Florida and coached the Gators to their first national championship 30 years later. He has a statue outside the stadium and is a member of the program’s exclusive circle of honor.

Spurrier also nicknamed the stadium “The Swamp”. The Gators went 122-27-1 in 12 seasons under Spurrier, including an impressive 68-5 at home, and won six SEC titles.

The Gators renamed their football field in his honor in 2016, calling it Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. He is without a doubt the most beloved personality in the history of the school.

Spurrier’s daughter Amy Moody urged him to build a restaurant just to organize and display all of his memorabilia. Spurrier didn’t do much else to get the place going, other than attending meetings and tweaking the ideas of countless consultants.

One thing he provided: these parts.

Spurrier recreated dozens of his most famous and successful plays on paper and turned them into the wallpaper that now covers the two upstairs bathrooms.

A few of them came from unbalanced victories over their hated rival, Georgia, of course. Others: Terry Dean connecting with Jack Jackson in a win over Alabama in the 1993 SEC title game; Wuerffel to Reidel Anthony in a fourth-and-12 game against Tennessee in 1996; Doug Johnson met Jacquez Green on a curl-and-go that established the winning score against Florida State in 1997.

Spurrier’s menu, meanwhile, features several items that are sure to bring smiles to Florida devotees. Main courses include Ike Hillard’s Catch of the Day, Tomahawk Porkchop, and Emory & Henry. Drinks include The Kick (for Spurrier’s 40-yard vs. Auburn), CiTrUs 75 (for his “You can’t spell Citrus without UT” joke) and 52-20 Pale Ale (the score of Florida’s first national title) .

For Spurrier, the creation of the restaurant stirred fond memories. And he hopes it will be the same for his fans. It could also fill a void as the most successful football coach in the history of two schools (Florida and South Carolina) has more free time than expected when he temporarily stepped away in 2016.

“Life doesn’t always go the way we planned,” he says. “I thought when my coaching days were over I would be good at golfing again. But guess what? I developed arthritis in my fingers. … My golf game is not what it used to be. But you get to play the senior tees.


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