Salt Life Food Shack new restaurant at Fernandina's Main Beach Park
Marketplace,  Real Estate

Growth Spurs New Restaurants & More From Yulee To Fernandina

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.


New restaurants flaunting rooftop bars. Mixed-use buildings exuding panache. Lavish townhouses rivaling those in big cities.

Here in quiet Nassau County. So are we becoming trendy with this sudden, stylish trend? You can bet on it, like a hot tip in Vegas. And the new trendy flavor here is a tasteful contrast to our historic charm.

We already had glimpses of glitz. Mostly at the premier resorts on Amelia Island or at our fine restaurants. And we already had deep historic roots. But this is something in between, meshing the two styles, bleeding from Amelia Island into Yulee.

Rooftop Bar in Yulee?

Did anyone envision a restaurant with a rooftop bar in Yulee? Yeah, that’s like saying you predicted the growth we are now experiencing. But with growth comes some sporty amenities for local people.

That’s exactly what is planned for a nearly two-acre tract in Wildlight. A rooftop bar will occupy the fourth floor of a new 42,000-square-foot building, blending various retail/commercial formats.

A familiar name – the Sheffields — will be behind the endeavor, according to reports. It is the same local company that owns The Palace Saloon and the adjoining Decantery in downtown Fernandina Beach, along with other businesses.

“As longtime Nassau County residents, we are always looking for ways to further invest our time and energy back into the community we call home,” says entrepreneur Wes Sheffield, CEO and managing member of Amelia Underwriters, Inc. “We believe Wildlight has the right foundation, energy and long-term vision to drive economic development.”

Sheffield is also moving the corporate headquarters of Amelia Underwriters into the spiffy new building. Rayonier and Florida Public Utilities have both already re-located their headquarters to Wildlight.

“We are pleased to welcome the Sheffields’ mixed-use project to Wildlight,” says Charles Adams, vice president of community development for Raydient Places + Properties. “We believe their plans for a restaurant and rooftop bar will appeal directly to future residents, employees working in the Wildlight village and community members alike.”

New Main Beach Restaurant Under Construction

View From Boardwalk at Main Beach Putt Putt Salt Life Food Shack Building
View From Boardwalk: Putt Putt & Salt Life’s New Building Across The Street

Over in Fernandina Beach, another project is underway that will also appeal to residents. It’s the new Salt Life Food Shack restaurant being constructed at Main Beach on a reported $1.2 million tract. A concrete-block foundation is being erected right now, with completion expected next year.

The restaurant concept ties in with the Salt Life brand, originated in 2003 in Jacksonville Beach. The company promotes the “Live the Salt Life” concept through gear, surf shops and now restaurants, with other locations in Jacksonville Beach and in St. Augustine Beach.

The design of the Fernandina Beach restaurant will apparently resemble the other Salt Life locations. This concept will include an open-air restaurant/bar on the second floor with an ocean view.

And in downtown Fernandina Beach, posh townhouses are being built at the old Fernandina Lumber site. They are pre-selling at prices in the high $500,000s, according to reports.

So business is good here. Downtown merchants are reporting record months, and our hotels are full, demanding the highest rates in North Florida. We have enough amenities in Nassau County to attract this high-end activity. Apparently, it’s a trend.


Steve Nicklas
Steve Nicklas

Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor and a chartered retirement planning counselor for a regional U.S. firm who lives on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His business columns also regularly appear in several newspapers in North Florida and on his personal website He has published a book of his favorite columns from the last 20 years, “All About Money.” The book is available in local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected]