Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Jack and Sandy Thompson will hold a grand opening
for Jax Fifth Avenue Deli & Ale House on Saturday, Sept. 8.
From the outside, anyone passing the bright metallic building that was the former home of Carol’s Silver Diner and Foy Motors on New Centre Drive, Jax Fifth Avenue Deli might appear to be a reincarnation of the 1950s style diner. However, after an extensive renovation to the interior of the building, the new deli and sports saloon now boasts an upscale feel.
Owned by Jack and Sandy Thompson, this is the couple’s sixth Jax they have opened since the first one opened its doors in the mid-1980s in Orlando, Fla. Although their five Florida locations were thriving, Sandy Thompson said she and her husband were ready for a change of scenery and climate.
“We had a lot of people angry with us when we left,” Sandy said. “We were pretty much a staple in Orlando; our last one we sold there had been there for 18 years.”
With the new Jax location, Thompson said she and her husband wanted to transform the interior of the 1950s diner into something more akin to a classic New York City delicatessen and gourmet sports saloon.
Immediately upon entering the establishment, the abundance of high-quality hardwoods is the first thing that catches the eye. The flooring is made of thick oak planks, and tables are built from reclaimed heart pine from the original Cotton Exchange and aged cypress. Other unique wooden features include teak flooring from the original decking of the U.S.S. North Carolina in the entranceway and a large, three-sided bar constructed from a single heart pine tree that was pulled from the Cape Fear River.
“We love old wood so we found Old Growth Riverwood here in Wilmington and he built all of our tables and our bar by himself,” Sandy said. “They were not sure how old [the tree the bar is made of] was, but it is approximately an 800 to 1,000 year-old heart pine tree.”
Despite the prevalent wooden features, the interior is balanced by a pressed tin roof, a traditional, patterned New York City black and white tile floor around the bar, and wall-to-wall flat screen televisions.
Fitting with the ambience the Thompson’s have created, Sandy said the upscale deli fare offered at Jax is identical to New York City delis. With Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, and freshly baked bread from Great Harvest Bread Company, Sandy said Jax is committed to having the best ingredients. Sandwich choices range from the 5th Avenue, which features stacked ham, turkey, roast beef, bacon, Swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce, dressing and mayo on a sourdough bun to a chicken cordon bleu sandwich. Other options include pita pizzas with ingredients from traditional Italian pepperoni and mushrooms, to more refined choices like freshly smoked salmon and caviar.
Jax Fifth Avenue Deli & Ale House is open from 11:00 a.m. to 2 a.m., serving the lunch, dinner and late night crowds. The deli will hold a grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 8, and is located at 5046 New Centre Drive.