By Dahlia Ghabour – Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal

May 24, 2019, 1:45pm EDT

Downtown could use a lot of things, but it especially could use an oyster bar. That's what Alex Morantus thinks, and he's bringing one to downtown Jacksonville.

Whispers Oyster Bar & Seafood is an offshoot of the Whispers Oyster Bar & Grill in Orange Park. Morantus will serve as the new general manager of the downtown location at 331 W. Forsyth Street, in the former The Bank BBQ & Bakery space.

"There's a void here for a nice seafood bar in the downtown area," Morantus said. "This building was available and is already a restaurant. it's right across from TIAA Bank, and right around the corner from the courthouse. We love the location and think it's favorable to succeed."

He said the menu will be a seafood spread with a Caribbean flair, in a relaxed, comfortable environment. The restaurant is aiming mostly at happy hour customers, though it's open for lunch and dinner. Menu options include oysters, snow crab, dungeon crab, mussels, crawfish and seafood pasta, as well as a side menu of Caribbean and Southern cuisine. There will even still be some BBQ items, as a homage to the restaurant's previous customers.

"This place is really happy hour driven so we will discount a lot of the food on our menu," Morantus said. "You can do oysters and a drink for under $20."

The restaurant has about 172 seats in a 5,200-square-foot space. It will be open 11 a.m. to midnight during the week, noon to 2 a.m. on Saturday and noon to midnight on Sunday.

Morantus is shooting for an opening by May 31. Two more locations are in the works by the restaurant's owners, who are aiming at the areas around the airport and Southside.