Over the years College Road in Ocala, or State Road 200, has welcomed about 100 chain and independent restaurants and up-and-coming brands in the food-service industry, including plenty of eateries both big and small. With plenty of history, this unique road has seen a new revival in recent years.
First Watch, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panda Express, PDQ and now Freddy’s are all located on College Road. Amrit Palace Indian Cuisine moved into a larger location. Bob Evans was rebuilt. There is a “pending” sign in front of Guadalahara Mexican. On the west side, McDonald’s, Tijuana Flats and Gator Dockside are neighbors to Cracker Barrel and Steak ‘n Shake.
Al DiFeo, who closed his own College Road pizzeria Abio’s and spent 34 years of business on the eastern edge of Restaurant Row, said a big night on the town either began or ended with a visit to Restaurant Row. “It was amazing, a lot of variety and things to do,” he said.
As the recession recedes, Restaurant Row sees a revival, and the economy is strengthening. Restaurant Row provides the perfect location with interstate proximity and a strong mix of retail and family-friendly establishments. “We’ve seen a tremendous resurgence in the past five years,” said Bartow McDonald, managing director of Sperry Van Ness, which specializes in commercial properties. “There’s a lot of activity, both among users and investors.”