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Coach Spurrier to debut as restaurateur in Gainesville

Al Urbanski

He’s the winningest coach in the history of the University of Florida and delivered the national championship to the Gators in 1996, but can he get the cooking done in the kitchen?

Steve Spurrier, the football legend who won the Heisman Trophy as a player and is honored in the College Football Hall of Fame as both player and coach, will open Spurriers Gridiron Grille this year at Celebration Pointe in Gainesville, home of UF.

Zealously adhering to the football theme, Spurrier conducted a nationwide “draft” of managerial talent and chose Andrew Johnstone, formerly director of operations for Mission BBQ as his operating partner.

“Andrew shares my vision of creating a first-class dining and social experience in the North Florida region,” Spurrier said.

The 16,700-sq.-ft. space includes three indoor-outdoor bars and a 5,500-sq.-ft. rooftop lounge named Visors (Spurrier’s trademark headgear). Included will be a 600-sq. ft. memorabilia exhibit with Spurrier’s 1966 Heisman as the centerpiece. 

Also involved in the operation Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille is Giselle Mastrosanti of the Ganbaru Consultancy, which has developed restaurant concepts such as Urban Grill, Santoku, Coco Lounge, and Carbon. 

Celebration Pointe, a mixed-use center whose retail and entertainment district opened in 2019, hosts the UF football and basketball coaches’ radio shows, and the popular Chomp the Block rallies the week of UF football games.

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