Though the Adeeb family is best known to the modern Jacksonville community for its leadership of the Bono’s Bar-B-Q restaurant chain, it was another restaurant that began the family’s local legacy.
Green Turtle Restaurant was founded in 1947 by Middle Eastern immigrant Joe Adeeb, Sr. It debuted along Philips Highway near the Emerson Street intersection; at the time, it was located a half-mile outside of pre-consolidation Jacksonville’s city limits. It served a menu of upscale fresh seafood and steak dishes.
In 1952, Joe’s son, Joe Jr., joined his father at the restaurant; around the same time, Adeeb also acquired the Sea Turtle Inn in Jax Beach.
The eatery became massively popular among travelers in its early days, owing to its location along U.S. Route 1 prior to the development of the interstate highway system. What began as a 125-seat restaurant would soon expand to accommodate up to 600 guests in its building, which featured a cocktail lounge and the upscale “Redwood Room.” The restaurant stood out as a favorite amongst what was then a crowded Philips Highway corridor and managed to maintain its following even as the arrival of I-95 diverted away much of the travelers – in part thanks to the development of the nearby Philips Highway Plaza shopping mall in 1960.
Notably, the Green Turtle was the first restaurant job for Willie Jewell Daniels, a then-homeless woman who would become an integral part of Bono’s and, years later, would serve as the inspiration behind Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q.
The Green Turtle survived just under three decades, closing in 1975 after the death of Joe Sr. It certainly wasn’t the last we’d hear from the Adeeb family, though. Five years later, Joe Jr. and his son, Joe Adeeb III, acquired Lou Bono’s small chain of local barbecue restaurants and grew it into a thriving enterprise.
Today, the family still owns Bono’s and has branched out into new concepts, including Strings Sports Brewery in Springfield. But the family’s lasting legacy among many older Jax residents was cemented during the days of the Green Turtle.