Sydney Burrell and her husband moved to Jacksonville roughly 12 years ago with a dream to invest in the local community. They made their first investment by becoming small business owners–opening up Island Tropic Restaurant just north of Springfield on Main Street, which serves a variety of traditional Caribbean fare. Mrs. Burrell admits the restaurant was her husband’s dream, but that she also always wanted to have her own spot someday. Five years later, they purchased a small commercial space on State Street in the New Town neighborhood and got to work.
Coming from New York, Mrs. Burrell remembered going to different day spas in the city as a way to relax from the day to day. “I always knew I wanted to have a day spa, and there’s an industry for it here in Jacksonville,” explained Mrs. Burrell. After the success of their restaurant, State Street was a chance for Mrs. Burrell’s dream to become reality. The Burrells chose the New Town area because of its convenience to downtown and because it was not too far from their first business, which made it easier to manage both during the day. Impressively, the Burrells managed to open their original restaurant without taking out a single loan, and were determined to be loan-free with their new business as well. After purchasing the property, they began renovations, and piece by piece Palm Tree Spa and Cafe came together over the last seven years.
The final piece was a grant through HabiJax’s facade program, which helped the Burrells by funding the exterior painting of their building. Mrs. Burrell described that, “It was a very quick process with HabiJax. I applied, and the work was done very quickly–it was excellent, and I’m very happy with it.” The HabiJax facade program invests in New Town businesses through small grants that help with exterior infrastructure projects, such as painting, signage and awnings. The goals are not only to help boost curb appeal, but to help drive customer traffic to New Town businesses. Mrs. Burrell estimates the exterior paint and labor saved her and her husband a significant amount of money.
The Palm Tree Spa and Cafe opened on January 9th, and business is quickly growing. It was especially important for the Burrells to invest in New Town by providing the neighborhood with jobs, and as a result they have focused their hiring efforts on skilled employees who live in the area. They have a full-time employee who helps with cleaning, greeting guests, and other day to day items, and have also recruited licensed nail technicians and massage therapists from the neighborhood. Services offered at Palm Tree include massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, and other traditional services. The spa’s cafe offers healthy lunch fare, including salads, restorative Caribbean juices, wraps and smoothies. While business grows, the spa is by appointment only, but is also available for private events.
We congratulate the Mrs. Burrell for realizing her dream, and for supporting the New Town community. We look forward to the growth of this new business, and hope you’ll consider supporting Palm Tree Spa and Cafe and the many other small business owners of New Town!