Beloved multi-vendor eatery plans expansion to meet community needs

Caroline Bryant | The Southern Newspaper Photo courtesy of Kailynn Bannon | A FSC student enjoying the current Joinery location.

Kailynn Bannon
The Southern Editor

A Lakeland staple recently bought land to expand its business and improve its parking. Lakelanders await the upcoming project as it is in its early planning and development stages.

The Joinery opened its doors to the Lakeland community in Jan. 2020, only months before the world shut down. Since then, the food hall has been adjusting to operating a new business in a pandemic while serving its community and its needs.

Whether it is a Tuesday night or a Sunday afternoon, The Joinery is always packed. Visitors socialize with friends, and strangers alike, while waiting in line to order sushi, ice cream or puffy tacos.

In 2021, the city planned to have a dog park on the land on the east side of The Joinery’s parking lot. Before beginning development, the dog park relocated, leaving that space untouched.

Jonathan Bucklew, founder and owner of The Joinery, saw potential in that plain piece of land.

“There’s always a need for more parking,” Bucklew said.

The city had no plans for what to do with the land, so The Joinery and its architect and property owners devised a plan and then went to the city to try to buy.

The plan was to expand parking while offering more dining options and space for customers.

After the commission’s approval, they spent nearly two years buying the property. They only recently closed on the property.

“We ultimately did close on the property, so we will follow through and push for more development…,” Bucklew said.

As of right now, it’s only a dirt lot. But in the future, it will be an event space, a full-service restaurant and maybe even a spot open early for breakfast. While the expansion gives customers a chance to get a cup of coffee at 7 a.m., Bucklew said that the opening time for the main building will remain at 11 a.m.

This seven-figure expansion would be greatly appreciated by the city.

“I just get people all the time who want to come in and have more space at The Joinery so obviously there’s some demand for space…,” Bucklew said.

The Joinery is one of the most popular spots in Lakeland to grab a bite to eat, but that does not make up for the hardships the pandemic caused for the business.

“Even though The Joinery is busy, we had a big hole to crawl out of,”Bucklew said. “We started losing [money] on a monthly basis.”

What helped the business come out of the pandemic alive was the community gathering around and backing the local eatery.

“We’re very grateful for the support that we got,” he said.

While the team behind the food hall says that this project is happening, they have no time frame on when the property will finish.

They closed on the property a few months ago, but only recently worked it into their lease.

“The ink has hardly dried on the purchase of the property,” Bucklew said.

Many things had to line up for this vision to come together. However, they learned over the past five years that things this big take years, time and work.

“We’ll get there, it just takes time,” Bucklew said.

Even as a former traveling musician and founder of a furniture company, this is the most massive project he has ever taken on.

Now that the project’s foundation is finished, they can move on to the next steps. They can put money and effort behind it and start with architectural plans.

While the project may be a couple of years away from opening to the public, Lakelanders can start to get excited about this official new expansion.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here