A little more than five years after it closed on the Southbank, Morton’s the Steakhouse is returning to Jacksonville. This time it’s on the Northbank downtown, scheduled to open June 1 in Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, an employee there said.

 

Morton’s has not yet confirmed the location, but the restaurant has been licensed by the state for that site.

It’s going into the space last occupied by Plaza III, said the employee who asked not to be named. Plaza III closed in 2009 after operating for three years in the hotel.

Hyatt, which has 963 rooms and 110,000 square feet of meeting space, has three food and dining spots now: Trellises Restaurant, Currents Lounge and Jaxx Sports Bar. The hotel sold in 2014 for $53 million.

Morton’s, a high-end steakhouse, first opened in Chicago in 1978. The Southbank location opened in 2000 in a standalone building on Riverplace Boulevard. But on Feb. 1, 2012, the chain was purchased by Houston-based Landry’s Restaurants. Later that day, the employees of the Jacksonville restaurant were notified that it was one of 10 that would close.

The door was locked that day, the Morton’s sign out front was taken down and the building has remained vacant since.

“Over time, demographics shift and so do the areas in which businesses thrive and it’s because of this that we must close the Morton’s location in Jacksonville,” a Landry’s spokeswoman told the Times-Union at the time.

Three years earlier, at the depth of the recession, a spokesman for the Jacksonville Morton’s acknowledged that business was way down, as it was at many restaurants at the time. Morton’s average check at the time was $97 per person and 80 percent of its business is on an expense account.

So the chain started a small plate menu starting at $5. Small plates are now $7.

Morton’s currently has seven restaurants in Florida, including one in Orlando and the rest in South Florida. The only one in Georgia is in downtown Atlanta.

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296