Almost two years ago in March 2020, Josh Martino, President of Home Team Restaurant Group, answered an urgent 9 p.m. phone call informing him that the Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q on Gate Parkway was on fire. Martino and Joe Adeeb, company CEO, rushed to the restaurant site and found one of the restaurant’s most beloved locations engulfed in tall flames, thick smoke and the flashing lights of 12 fire trucks. Thankfully, no one was hurt during the incident but the restaurant was no more. Twenty-four hours later, COVID-19 put the world on pause, and Jacksonville’s premier culinary group thought long and hard on how best to proceed: would they accept one of the many offers for the land? Or would they rebuild Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q, even better than before?
Fortunately for Jacksonville residents, visitors, and lovers of Southern Pit BBQ, the answer became clear. The Gate Parkway Bono’s will reopen to the public on December 13th, just in time for the holiday season and ushering in 2022. Martino admits the last two years have been “a whirlwind” and that the process to rebuild was “long and tough,” — but Home Team Restaurant Group and the Bono’s family agree that the journey has been well worth the effort.
The Gate Parkway location, open since “BTC” — before the Town Center — represents more than Home Team’s popular 73 year-old restaurant concept; it represents the progress and grit of Jacksonville as a city. “We wanted our mess to become our message and never lost sight of what we were fighting for. We work hard every day for our dedicated staff, our family and the Jacksonville Community,” says Martino. “We are thrilled with the new restaurant and the changes we’ve made based on the things we have learned over the last two years. Our gratitude for all those involved with helping us get to this point is immeasurable.
Patrons of Bono’s at Gate Parkway can look forward to new touches to the restaurant’s design for style and convenience: an added drive-thru for easy pickup, plus plenty of outdoor seating to savor Jacksonville’s year-round desirable climate. But what everyone loves most about Bono’s will remain the same: authentic Pit BBQ smoked on site, cut to order, and served with good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.
“We are excited to turn the lights on, fire up the Pit, and serve this city some outstanding BBQ. We’re back.” Martino says, smiling as usual.