Fast seafood restaurant reels in customers

The Wharf Express is a tenant in University Town Center, and we're proud to have such a great restaurant in one of our listings. The Wharf Express offers delicious seafood at great prices. Stop by for lunch or dinner! 

By Brett Rabinovich | The Alligator

A new fast-food seafood restaurant has been reeling in business partially thanks to social media and a tie to UF.

The Original Wharf Express3333 SW 34th St., in University Town Center by Peach Valley, offers a mix of seafood and usually serves its meals within 10 minutes.

Leslie Guy, the owner of the franchise, is a UF alumna who was active in Greek life during college, performed as a UF cheerleader and competed on the gymnastics team.

“Gainesville has become a part of me,” she said, “And I wanted to bring something back to Gainesville.”

Part of her goal is to break the negative views many people have about fast-food seafood, she said.

The restaurant has primarily reached the student community through word of mouth, but kitchen manager RJ Wright said social media seems to help.

“As I keep updating my status and share the restaurant’s page on Facebook, I see more people coming in to try the food,” he said.

The restaurant also plans on expanding to other locations in the Gainesville area, Guy said.

Emily Dhondt, a 21-year-old UF advertising senior who works in the restaurant, said students visit because they know other restaurants in the shopping center are good, and they’re looking for something new to try.

“I’ve seen a customer who has come in almost every single day this week because the food ... has a Southern charm to it,” she said.\

A new fast-food seafood restaurant has been reeling in business partially thanks to social media and a tie to UF.

The Original Wharf Express3333 SW 34th St., in University Town Center by Peach Valley, offers a mix of seafood and usually serves its meals within 10 minutes.

Leslie Guy, the owner of the franchise, is a UF alumna who was active in Greek life during college, performed as a UF cheerleader and competed on the gymnastics team.

“Gainesville has become a part of me,” she said, “And I wanted to bring something back to Gainesville.”

Part of her goal is to break the negative views many people have about fast-food seafood, she said.

The restaurant has primarily reached the student community through word of mouth, but kitchen manager RJ Wright said social media seems to help.

“As I keep updating my status and share the restaurant’s page on Facebook, I see more people coming in to try the food,” he said.

The restaurant also plans on expanding to other locations in the Gainesville area, Guy said.

Emily Dhondt, a 21-year-old UF advertising senior who works in the restaurant, said students visit because they know other restaurants in the shopping center are good, and they’re looking for something new to try.

“I’ve seen a customer who has come in almost every single day this week because the food ... has a Southern charm to it,” she said.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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