The Swamp Restaurant officially reopened at its new location in the heart of Gainesville’s Innovation District.
In 2020, the restaurant closed when a national developer purchased the land. A petition to keep the restaurant in its original location amassed over 45,000 signatures, but it didn’t prevail.
Developers tore down the building and built a six-story apartment complex.
The Swamp ownership and staff had to decide between reopening the restaurant under the apartment complex or moving to a new location and rebuilding.
The popular restaurant started its 10-month construction plan on Oct. 27, 2021, and held its grand opening on Monday in time for the UF football team’s home opener on Saturday.
“It feels great,” Ryan Prodesky, the restaurant owner, said in an interview. “We put a lot of hard work into the building, and a ton of people worked as hard and as fast as they could to be opened by the first weekend.”
UF hosts the seventh-ranked Utah Utes at 6 p.m. on Saturday and the restaurant is traditionally a hot spot for students and alum, especially during the football season.
“It is going to be big,” Prodesky said of the Gators’ first game.
The new ownership and staff focused on making the new building authentic to the former restaurant. The main goal was to pay homage to the original building and replicate the façade and atmosphere as much as possible but add some improvements.
“We did make some improvements in terms of the restaurant itself,” Prodesky said. “The building, kitchen, and restrooms are larger. The technology upgrades we installed allow more capabilities within the restaurant.”
Even with upgrades, the brick tradition remains.
The Swamp sells bricks for anyone who wants to leave a mark that will last a lifetime. Whether current students, alums, or community members decide to purchase a brick, the restaurant displays personalized memory and history on the front lawn of the restaurant.
As crowds of people visit the spot for food, drinks, and music, while the stories are what leaves an impression.
“It’s been tremendous to see how excited everybody’s been through these first few days,” Prodesky said. “The things that stuck out to me were the people wearing old Swamp T-shirts that they got 10 to 15 years ago. The local residents coming in and trading war stories about their time at the Swamp has been an incredibly humbling experience.”