Gastronomic Revolution: Exploring the Next Wave of Culinary Trends in Restaurants

Treylor Park appetizers
Rick Kunzi

As recently as Q4 of 2023, the dining industry continues to cope with workforce stability challenges. The high demand for food delivery has also necessitated adaptation from restaurateurs. Evolve Magazine checked in with a few First Coast restaurants to discern what has helped them adjust to unique demands and staffing trends.

Treylor Park is a restaurant collection that lives by the ethos of “quality over quantity.” Their menu is famous for its unique culinary combinations. Peruse their Nocatee menu, and you’ll find fried banana pepper rings and bacon cheeseburger tacos.

To achieve sustainable staffing, Treylor Park finds distinct talent and then nurtures them with a view to a long-term career. A hybrid model helps with the process. For example, when a dishwasher is hired, “we let them work on their food handler certificate while teaching them the basics of prep and knife skills,” explains owner Rick Kunzi. So, a long-range view is in play as staff become versatile in their capabilities. This arrangement is born of staff meetings where candid feedback is encouraged. Having hybrid employees with varied skills positions the restaurant to weather unforeseen staffing challenges.

The Nocatee store is centrally located, thereby limiting demand for food delivery. When such orders are placed, an innovative approach enhances the experience. One hack utilized by Treylor Park is to poke holes in to-go boxes. This allows packaged meals to aerate and retain freshness. Periodic menu review also helps make the food delivery experience as premium as possible.

Catch 27
Stephen Hutson

Catch 27 is located in the heart of historic St. Augustine, where local businesses enjoy strong community support. Their culinary philosophy centers on using locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Whether it’s sheepshead or shrimp – their seafood is caught in Florida waters. “I am lucky to have a loyal staff in the front and back of house,” relates owner Stephen Hutson. Some restaurateurs are facing a hiring shift away from wait staff in favor of kitchen personnel. In Stephen’s case, there has been an equilibrium in hiring among cooks, dishwashers, bartenders and hosts.

The Blackfly is located near the Davis Shores enclave of St. Augustine. They incorporate premier Caribbean recipes to emerge with an imaginative menu. Their vegetables are locally sourced from farms west of St. Augustine. The Blackfly’s commitment to local produce harkens back to Henry Flagler’s own philosophy, whereby he promoted agriculture to sustain guests at his Ponce de Leon Hotel. While some eateries have had to innovate to adapt to the demand for food delivery, The Blackfly prides itself on steering clear of the to-go model for the most part. Their approach to takeout does not distract from the in-house dining experience. So, you will not see the likes of Uber Eats and DoorDash coming and going during lunch rushes. “Our food is best enjoyed hot from our kitchen,” relates general manager Nick Massie.

The Blackfly
Nick Massie

While staffing shortages have recently impacted many restaurants, Nick is pleased to report a “strong track record of retaining…employees.” He explains, “We, in large part, acquire new employees through referrals of current and past employees.” The respectful, family atmosphere and fun work culture boost talent retention.

As reported by, the US restaurant industry made over $800 billion in sales in 2022. So, this industry will continue to be a force baked into our daily lives and economies. It’s up to us to continue pivoting as unforeseen trends inevitably present themselves.