Bulkheads Taphouse and Kitchen brings the taste of Chesapeake cuisine to Orange Park

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 1/21/21

ORANGE PARK – Bulkheads Taphouse and Kitchen is one of the newest eateries in the area.

Opened three weeks ago, owners David and Carolyn Marquis, transplants to Florida by way of Annapolis, …

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Bulkheads Taphouse and Kitchen brings the taste of Chesapeake cuisine to Orange Park

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Bulkheads Taphouse and Kitchen is one of the newest eateries in the area.

Opened three weeks ago, owners David and Carolyn Marquis, transplants to Florida by way of Annapolis, Maryland, were looking to bringing their distinctive Mid-Atlantic flavors to Clay County.

“We previously had owned a restaurant and a bed and breakfast down in Crisfield [Maryland], which is considered the crab capital of the world,” said Carolyn said. “So having two crab houses on one side [of the Chesapeake Bay] and an oyster house on the other, you learn pretty quickly; you know you just learned a lot more than you ever thought you’d know about seafood.”

That knowledge, along with closures of nearly everything due to COVID-19, pushed the Marquises to pack up and head south, looking for proverbial greener pastures.

The new restaurant is located at 664 Kingsley Ave.

“Maryland’s still shut down,” Carolyn said. “And we have family here. For the last two years, we’d been looking at different areas in Florida before COVID ever happened. Once COVID hit, it just kind of sped up our plan by about six months.”

They selected Jacksonville and Orange Park in particular because there is a high military personnel concentration, both active and retired. David Marquis is a retired Navy pilot. At one of their Maryland restaurants, they had two beers that saw wide distribution, one of which was the Beat Army Lager. That distribution spread as far south as the First Coast and helped educate the Marquises about the market. They also love the access to water and the ability to live in suburban and semi-rural settings while still having almost immediate access to the city. As well, a large portion of the crab supply in Maryland between November and March came from Florida as regulations there prohibited crabbing during that time-span.

One of the specials of Bulkheads – of course – are the crab cakes, which only have five ingredients but are purportedly excellent.

“A lot of our dishes like the crabby flatbread is really popular. Our sauteed seafood cabbage is really popular. Our cream of crab is also outstanding,” she said.

On the beverage side, Bulkheads supports local breweries, selling 18 different Florida beers, such as Pinglehead Imperial Red from Orange Park and Aardwolf Styrofoam Pony from Jacksonville, among others.

“We’re just glad to be here in Florida,” said David Marquis. “Enjoying the weather, enjoying…you know we’ve been open a couple of weeks and so far, so good. Met a lot of new people, and it’s going well so far. Just happy to be here serving beer and good food.”

Bulkhead’s patrons are enjoying it so far, according to Carolyn Marquis.

“We’re getting really good positive feedback, which is why I really didn’t do a grand opening. I like to do things slow and steady. And so, I believe in that turtle and hare race concept. We’ve gotten a lot of really good reviews, and the community has been really supportive,” she said.

The Marquis’s goal is not to compete with current establishments but to create something that wasn’t already there.

Bulkheads is that, and in this, it’s early existence, it seems to be doing just that.

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