The funky-colored building at 2753 Park Street in Avondale has been home to local favorite European Street Café for nearly thirty years – but the building itself has been around for much longer.
It was originally built in 1941 as a service station for Orange State Oil Company. According to city historian Wayne Wood, the Art Deco-style building was designed by Miami architect Michael Vaviloff.
Orange State was one of several oil companies whose service stations could be found in Jacksonville and its suburbs during the first half of the twentieth century, prior to the mass consolidation of those companies. Though not quite as mighty as leaders like Standard Oil, Orange State did have at least one other Jax location. The other known location, along Atlantic Boulevard in eastern San Marco, was torn down to make way for the original Overland Bridge.
Orange State went out of business in the early 1960s, shortly after winning an appeal as part of litigation against JTA (then Jacksonville Expressway Authority) over its Atlantic Boulevard station.
In the early 1970s, Florida Barber College relocated from downtown Jax to utilize the former service station as its new home. The school, which was also open to customers as a barbershop, stayed in this location until it went out of business in the early ‘80s.
In 1992, the boarded-up building was renovated – and given a new paint job – to become a second location for European Street Restaurant and Gourmet, a new restaurant concept from the owners of the popular Mr. Dunderbak’s at Regency Square Mall. Two years earlier, they had dropped the Mr. Dunderbak’s branding and reopened as European Street within Regency.
By August of 1992, the new restaurant had opened its doors. And, while the Regency location would close in 1999, European Street Café – as it’s now known – has become one of Jax’s most popular local eateries, expanding to four area locations.
Today, European Street continues to operate its Avondale restaurant, which is now its oldest active location. And, for those who know its history, it serves as a reminder of the early service stations of Jacksonville.