The Swamp Restaurant is rebuilding its history brick by brick.
Expected to open by the start of UF’s 2022 football season September 4, The Swamp’s new building will be located in the Innovation District at 1026 SW Second Ave. It will feature a courtyard and walkway of personalized, engraved bricks and a dedicated area for the nearly 300 bricks saved from its Midtown demolition.
The restaurant was forced to close its doors on June 30, 2020 when the land it stood on for 25 years was purchased by 908 Development Group to build a high-rise apartment complex.
Michael Nolan, a 38-year-old Tampa realtor who used to frequent The Swamp on visits to Gainesville before it closed, said the brick his wife Jennifer bought him at The Swamp was one of the very first presents she ever gave him.
“This was probably our first or second week of dating and one of our first experiences together, ” Nolan said.
The restaurant's initial plan was to reopen a year and a half later in the same location, where it would reside on the first floor of the mixed-use development space. Owner Ryan Prodesky chose to construct a stand-alone building that would replicate The Swamp’s original structure and preserve its authentic charm.
“We’re copying it to a T,” Prodesky said. “I’m excited that we’re able to bring The Swamp back in its true form, in the way that it was intended to be instead of having to build it under five stories of apartments.”
The architectural style isn’t the only thing the new restaurant is replicating. Prodesky saved all decorations and memorabilia from the old location, including all of the engraved bricks from The Swamp’s 8-year-old brick program.
“We definitely didn’t want the people that had already participated in the program to feel disenfranchised,” Prodesky said. “We wanted to continue to honor them and their personal messages.”
Because of the memories customers have with the restaurant, Prodesky plans to continue the brick program as a way for people to stay connected with the restaurant and “keep that tradition alive.”
“I think it’s a saving grace that they decided to ultimately duplicate the property somewhere else, Nolan said. “We’ve been coming up for years, we have close friends that are alumni, and I’m a huge Gator fan just from being a Florida native for so long.”
The new restaurant will be about 20% bigger with an added outside bar, a private room upstairs and an elevator. While modernization and improvements are in the works, Prodesky’s goal is to retain the same atmosphere as the old location.
“I think once people get there, they’re going to feel like they’re at the old Swamp,” he said.
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