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Jacksonville's old tunnel system is still home to some businesses

7:27 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At the height of downtown Jacksonville's booming banking days, underground tunnels leading to vaults were built, partly in order to keep money out of the public eye.

Now, with banks steadily moving out of downtown to the online universe, the need for actual vaults and tunnel systems has disappeared.  

The tunnels are now more of a tourist attraction and a novelty, as opposed to a necessity. 

But, there are still businesses below Forsyth Street. 

A florist, barber shop and even a couple restaurants sit below the pavement.

Benny's is one of those still serving food, despite the offices above steadily emptying out.

"I used to have five people working here," said owner Sarah Bateh, who now works with one other person. 

She opened the restaurant with her husband back in 1985.

"I said, 'In the tunnel? Who's going to see us in the tunnel?' but it worked out just fine."

Now crowds come in for lunch for the good food and 1985 prices, not, so much, out of convenience.

"We've got some loyal people that come here, I see them almost everyday, not like it used to be, but pretty good," Bateh said.

For more information on walking tours of Jacksonville's underground system, you can click here.

First Coast News

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