stainless steel beer dispenser

Business of Beer: The Tabula Rasa Story

Story by: Judd Barczak

Tabula Rasa Brewing Company located on Corbett street in the middle of the Jacksonville Rail district, is one of the newest micro-breweries to grace the River City scene. With the company’s owners looking to bring a breath of new life to their little branch of Jacksonville. 

This family owned company originally started off as a hobby for owner Randy Peterson, after his wife Jackie bought him a book focused on brewing in the early 90’s. After years of practice and the family sharing their brew with friends and family, their product seemed to gain traction. Through hard work and dedication the family has been able to bring this hobby a life of its own. 

Randy and Ryan Peterson, a father and son duo and now co-owners of Tabula Rasa both still work day jobs in addition to their work at the brewery. Both of them have experience in construction management and refrigeration, which has helped them to start up their business. With Ryan mentioning how their experience in their day jobs has helped them with “everything from permits, to machine maintinence.” With their day jobs still taking precedence for the Petersons they have allocated Saturday mornings as their dedicated “brew day” where they start the process of their various brews before canning. 

Yet another point that has made Tabula Rasa unique among other Jacksonville breweries is both their newly refurbished tapyard, and their focus on local artists. The tapyard is where patrons are encouraged to enjoy various brews outdoors, with plentiful seating and well groomed plants in order to improve the experience. While on the walls of the taproom Tabula Rasa various paintings from local artists are displayed on a rotating schedule, where patrons are not only able to enjoy the works of local artists, but are encouraged to purchase the works to support the artists displayed. 

While another point brought up by the Peterson family is that even though they have had plenty of issues when starting the brewery, ranging from supply chain to location. However, when it comes to these issues, the family has mentioned that despite these difficulties there is “nowhere else that they would rather be,” and when asked if there is anything that patrons should know Jackie Peterson responded with “we just are excited for people to know that we’re here.” 

low angle photography of white high rise building

Setting the Stage of Your New Home, the Importance of Appearance in Real Estate

Story by: Aubrey Lowery

Karen Brown has two storage units filled with various home decor and furniture, and no it’s not a clutter problem. All these items are strategically placed in clients’ homes when trying to sell. 

 “Over the past few years, I’ve accumulated different furniture and decor sets that could be used when competing with the new-build model homes that are on the market,” said Brown.

While homes should be full to show their full potential they should not include personal photos. Photo by: Aubrey Lowery

By having her own staging services, it not only makes her stand out from the crowd when sellers are trying to choose who to list their home with, but also makes it so that she has a consistent brand of what the properties she sells are supposed to look like.

Staging companies have become increasingly expensive, some charging up to $5,000 per home. 

If a seller does not choose to have their home staged it can result in the house staying on the market for much longer. As the saying goes, time is money, so Brown decided that by establishing an alternative her investment in decor pays off when a home sells in a fraction of the projected times. 

“Florida has one of the most competitive markets when it comes to real-estate, and with many people relocating to the area, they often want something that is turn-key.” Brown realized that when people are trying to sell the last thing they want to do is a major renovation, so making what they have look the most appealing is the best bet. 

According to Brown it only takes eight seconds for a buyer to make a decision on a house, so the most important part of the house is to have the entrance presented above the rest of the property. 


Karen Brown at work on trying to decorate a space, photo credits, Aubrey Lowery

According to Brown it only takes eight seconds for a buyer to make a decision on a house, so the most important part of the house is to have the entrance presented above the rest of the property. 

The Other Side of the Pickleball Court  

Story by: Nevin Jeacoma

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. Tennis courts around the world are starting to transition to accommodate the growing population of the sport. But did you know that there is a professional side of Pickleball. 

Austin Tchikatilov is amongst many people that play on the professional tour circuit.  

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) holds tournaments around the nation showcasing these incredible athletes’ talent. The season started January 12th and continues throughout the year until December 14th. Austin who has only been on the tour a few years is cruising through the rankings and is hungry for the number 1 spot. He is ranked number 36 in Men’s Singles, number 52 in Men’s Doubles, and even ranked in Mixed Doubles coming in at number 97, according to PPATour.com. 

Pickleball is a sport that can be played for leisure or at a high level, which makes it a sport for a wide audience. On the pickleball court you will find 8-year-olds playing with 70-year-olds. Pickleball is truly a community sport and on the PPA Tour that is very evident. It is all smiles, high vibes, and sportsmanship between the players, training staff, and fans. 


playing sport game competition

The Financial Flusters of Starting a Club Sports Team

Story by: Riley Platt

When many hear of school clubs, their minds often go to after-school activities, such as glee or even theater. Step on a college campus, though, and these clubs become a lot more in depth. 

Collegiate clubs are filled with bureaucracy and fueled by funding. This is particularly seen best with sports teams that don’t have varsity status. Students at many southern schools have created club hockey teams, as nearly none of the region’s institutions sponsor the sport at the NCAA level. 

This has led to a boom in hockey’s growth in the South. Heck, the University of North Carolina and NC State University’s club teams just packed 25,000 fans into Carter-Finley Stadium to watch a game that took place on the ice leftover from this year’s NHL Winter Classic. 

Figures like these may lead one to believe that there is money to burn for these teams, but this simply isn’t the case. Many of these clubs, particularly ones without an established foundation, struggle to stay afloat and have to fight for every dollar. 

One example of students taking a risk with this can be found at the University of North Florida. Starting months ago in 2022, a small group of hockey lovers on campus – led by club president Joey Eichler – set out to make their dream a reality. 

Flash forward to January 2023 and the team had done it: they played their first game. They may be starting out playing in a recreational league, but this doesn’t eliminate the financial troubles that come hand-in-hand with the sport.  

This particular team doesn’t receive funding from the University, leading to the players themselves shouldering much of the price tag. 

“To compensate for hockey’s inherent cost, we’re collecting dues from the players and also working with other local businesses to try and get fundraising,” club treasurer Zach Clemens explained. 

Just practicing for an hour at their local rink sets them back $300. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been well worth it for the club’s leaders as they can now compete and optimistically look forward to joining College Hockey South, a competitive league of other collegiate clubs in the region. 

“We’ve been putting a ton of work in all the time for the past eight months at this point,” Eichler said. “It’s really cool to finally start playing games.” 

As the club continues to grow, picking up sponsorships and other sources of funding will come easier. However, it’s still no walk – or rather skate – in the park.  

When added to the stress of being a full-time student, club sports can be an uphill climb for these visionaries. To help grow the sport they love, though, the hard work is merely the icing on the cake. 

Number 70 out on the rink. Photo by Riley Platt

UNF Hockey club players. Photo by Riley Platt

football speedladder warmup

Football: Injury Prevention and Athleticism 

Story by: Johnathan White

To avoid an increase in football related injuries, safety precautions become more and more in depth each season. Taking care of your body as an active football player includes a good stretching routine before and after practicing. 

Players’ bodies break down over time and lack of stretching vital body parts adds to the long term damage. Coaches instill their own stretching routines but players incorporate different warm ups regularly.  

Players will usually warm up with a set of auxiliary stretching to get the blood flowing. It is light to medium pace to get ready for the up-tempo practice or game environment. These include high knees, high skips, high kicks, etc. Hamstrings and calf injuries are most common when athletes play unconditioned.  

 Auxiliary stretching with high knees. Photo by Johnathan White  

If a player’s muscles go from no speed to game speed, it is more likely an avoidable injury occurs. Aggravating those injuries further adds to the long term physical toll.  

Saiyan Mosley hitting leg swings. Photo by Johnathan White 

Cooling down stretches are just as vital to maintaining overall well being. A simple stretch can unlock a muscle’s full capability and enhance recovery. Football requires a commitment to mind and body in equal proportion. If you treat your body well it can minimize the risks already taken with playing the game.  

three short fur assorted color cats

Coffee and Cats? Are you fur-real? 

Story by: Kaitlin Ward

The Caffeinated Cat is the first and only Cat Café located in Jacksonville Beach.  The café is a cat rescue where patrons can enjoy a cup of coffee while playing with cats. It was designed to pay for the cats’ needs and help find them their forever homes.  

The Café started all because of a cat named Flerken, with the goal to raise money for the medical bills and all other cat needs. Flerken still lives at the shop today as a permanent resident.  

“If that cat told me to jump off a bridge, I would ask which one,” said owner Tammy King. 

The Caffeinated Cat. Photo by Kaitlin Ward 

However, not all of the cats here are up for adoption. The cats with collars are known as permanent resident’s and live at the café, while the other cats are just there temporarily until they find their home. 

Some cats are in need of medical care before they are ready to be adopted. 

King shared how one doctor has saved over 1000 of their cats’ lives. That was Dr. Brienne LeMay. She was killed in a car accident and in honor of her memory multiple cats in the café were named after her and King has made it a point to carry on her memory.  

 One cat patient at The Caffeinated Cat. Photo by Kaitlin Ward. 

The cats’ needs are a top priority. One cat has been there since thanksgiving but is given the chance to adjust before being thrown into the room with the other cats. There are also cats that remain outdoors. 

The café is split into two sections, one where guests are able to sit, drink and watch the cats from behind a glass and another section where guests are able to go in and play with the cats while they sip.  

Both coffees and tea are available for purchase. Ella Chavoustie, a barista at the cafe, shared that all proceeds go straight to medical bills and the cats.  

“We get a lot of donations whether it’s food, the litter, even just the change you’re handed back after you get your coffee. Every little bit helps,” said Chavoustie. 


Whether you are looking for a furry friend to take home, or just the chance to give the cats some love, The Caffeinated Cat has something for everyone.  

coffee drink on ceramic cups on table top

Palatka Coffee Company: Quick, Convenient, and Caring 

Story by: Samantha Stephenson

Looking for a new coffee spot? A trip to Palatka Coffee Company is the ideal way to unwind, meet up with friends, or even work on your schoolwork. It is a family-owned and operated business.

In February 2020, Aashton Hodge opened a coffee shop with his wife Lindsey after owning Tangles Hair Salon. Aashton and Lindsey Hodge are well known in the community as business owners, so it’s no surprise that their clientele supported the new venture.  

Whether you want to order online or in person at Palatka Coffee Company, you’ll have the choice of taking it to go or sitting down in the store.   

Upon entering the shop, you’ll find the coffee bar where you can order and choose between the two seating areas. The left side is the main area for making coffee and sitting. On the right side, there are additional seating areas and a coffee bar in case of an emergency. The right side could be rented out for events such as baby showers, birthdays, and weddings, according to Aashton.    

Palatka Coffee Company’s espresso machine. 

Photo by Samantha Stephenson

Next to the coffee bar will be a selection of breakfast options. Ashton makes fresh scones every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Ben Hodge, owner of the Lunchbox at Saint Johns River State College, sells breakfast burritos and sandwiches on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Various beverages are available, including espresso, cold brew, drip coffee, lattes, black or green tea, Earl Gray tea, and happy tea. The drinks are served iced or hot.  

“I think I would recommend the PCC (latte with vanilla and caramel) or the Four Winds (latte with sea salt, toffee, caramel, and coconut),” Ian Adkins, customer.   

Due to Aashton’s desire for fresh, weekly roasted beans, Palatka Coffee Company uses Kookaburra coffee beans from St. Augustine. Alternatively, the beans can be purchased separately from the shop at retail prices. 

A variety of coffee syrups. Photo by Samantha Stephenson

“I think my favorite thing about working at the coffee shop is getting to know all the people and making friends with everybody, knowing everybody by name, and remembering orders,” Melinda Itterly said. She is one of two full-time employees at the shop, and she has been working for Aashton for the past two years. 

Whether you’re stopping through Palatka or planning a trip, be sure to check out Palatka Coffee Company. Try a customer favorite or tell an employee what you’re craving, and they’ll be happy to assist. It’s important to remember that when you support smaller shops, you’re able to speak with an employee who truly cares about what they’re doing.   

four person in naruto costume

Jacksonville’s Craft Cosplay Community 

Story by: Giana Mercado

Alex Heart, also known as Countess Alyx in the cosplay community, got involved in the costume world through her passion for theatre. Growing up, Heart wanted to be on Broadway, however, she fell back into an art form just as inspiring and fun. 

Cosplay stands for costume play and is a performance art where participants dress up to represent a specific character. Heart fell in love with performing and dressing up like anime characters, such as Pearl from the animated series “Steven Universe.” 

Originally from West Palm Beach, the cosplayer has stayed in Jacksonville for 7 years due to the large costume community. “This is the thing I love the most. I love being part of the community, it was the first community that made me feel at home, so I decided to stay here when I had no reason to, other than this lovely community,” said Heart. 

As part of the craft, Heart makes her own costumes. “I also believe in reusing things. The costume I’m wearing today is all thrifted items I’ve added sparkle to, readjusted, or changed hemlines,” she explained.  

Heart designs her costumes to be shiny and glittery to look good on stage as she performs and entertains audiences for events she emcees.  

Heart was a costume guest for Hall of Heroes’ Ancient City Con in 2018, where she then began to work with the company. Now she works on finding talent for events and producing performances.  

Heart helped produce past Hall of Heroes events at Mosh such as a history of comic books mini-con and a steampunk event that celebrates the culture around steampunk history. Hall of Heroes often holds events at Mosh that coincide with the theme of their exhibits. Hall of heroes even held a dragon event for Mosh’s Dragon exhibit “The Lost World of Dragons.”   

 Alex Heart cosplaying as Pearl from “Steven Universe.” Photo by Giana Mercado. 

Finding talent and scheduling can take Heart anywhere from two to three weeks. For Mosh’s current “Mission to Mars” exbibit, Hall of Heroes hosted their “Spaced out to Mars” mini-con including a costume contest. Heart booked experienced cosplayers to be costume judges for the out-of-this-world event. 

Heart believes these events are important for children in the community. “I think that having costume events and a costume community that makes them feel inspired by a creative community is really important for those that may feel like they may not belong elsewhere,” she stated. 

Hall of Heroes puts on family-friendly events throughout Northeast Florida where people can geek out together. Hall of Heroes’ website has more information on upcoming conventions. 

selective focus photography of person molding clay

Fired Up at Jacksonville Pottery Studio

Story by: Lisa Marino

Pottery is not only an artform that produces beautiful objects including dining ware and decorations, but it’s a medium that brings people together.  

Jacksonville Pottery Studio is full of ceramicists who are drawn to the craft for their own unique reasons. Although their passions for pottery were provoked by different catalysts, there is one common thread among the artists’ interests for the art—the appreciation they have for expressing their creativity through handcrafted projects.  

It’s common for a ceramicist to become personally attached to each piece he or she makes because of the lengthy process pottery encompasses. From the artist forming the idea of what he or she wants to create, to finalizing the glaze, the steps in between call for throwing, carving, painting and more.  

Despite what people may believe, it isn’t unusual for a piece of pottery to completely change paths from what an artist originally had in mind. Whether intentional or unintentional, the creative process always takes a turn, or a few turns, down its path.  

Zoë Conrad is the manager of Jacksonville Pottery Studio. As a manager, she has the freedom to create, teach, and work with other ceramicists. Zoë is passionate about teaching pottery because she exposes people to the endless possibilities of clay.  

Ceramics may scare people because of its handcrafting aspects, but Zoë ensures her students that anything can be made with clay. Most people who take her classes are completely new to pottery; Zoë feels delighted when she can share her passion with other people, and possibly, ignite students’ passions for the art.  

A member who can be seen in the studio nearly every day of the week is Robin. Considering ceramics to be more than just a pastime, but her entire world, Robin finds peace in the studio. With the freedom to either collaborate with other artists, or spend hours focused on her own work, Robin goes to the studio every moment she can. 

Robin has created life-long relationships with the people she has met through ceramics. She is always open to working with other artists or helping anyone who needs it to facilitate growth for herself and her friends.   

Nick Pantuso is one of Jacksonville Pottery Studio’s newest members. Nick first started pottery in a high school ceramics class but strayed from it for a few years after graduating. When he found the studio in Jacksonville, he was hooked on the art again and quickly became a member.  

Not only does Nick find happiness within the four walls of the pottery studio, but he notices that ceramics help him in other aspects of his life. Dedicating time to pottery allows Nick to destress and relax, which in turn leads him into being a better friend and spouse. After spending time in the studio, Nick feels rejuvenated to be a supporter for his wife.  

Although she is new to the world of ceramics, Rachael Stewart is eager to learn every day she clocks into work at the studio. Rachael is fascinated by the beauty that can be fabricated from what once was dirt or mud.  

Artists of all forms are driven by different factors. Whether creative expression is someone’s greatest passion, or a sole pass time when not working, art bands people together in ways that cannot always be described.  

The studio is open Tuesday-Saturday and a list of classes can be found at jaxpottery.com.

group of people standing on green grass field

Teachers Among Us 

Story by: William Horne

Every teacher offers different perspectives, experiences, and reasons why they teach. Those experiences take part to shape the future generation of our world. 

Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida has around 50 teachers and a few exceptional teachers share how their impact helps develop their students. 

Devin Wilson teaches in the sports medicine department of Andrew Jackson, but it’s what he does outside of the school that defines him. Wilson currently plays for the Jacksonville Sharks arena football team as a standout wide receiver. He talks about how his experiences on the field help him teach in the classroom. 

“Throughout playing on different levels, I’ve learned that not everyone learns the same way,” says Wilson. He believes that by providing the information in a variety of ways he will help reach all kids. 

Jason Snader, who is currently the athletic trainer at Andrew Jackson, first served as an athletic trainer for the University of Pittsburgh. “I try to really mimic the collegiate athletic room and day here in high school,” said Snader.

Snader believes in routine and how helping kids stay on a routine can help them play their best and recover. While Snader may not be a teacher, several kids learn from him everyday on the importance of taking care of your body to be the best version of yourself. 

Teachers are the unsung heroes in society and play the most vital role when it comes to the development for many years to come.