Northside’s First Entertainment Venue in Decades Thriving Amidst Local Protester

Shown is Allusion's Restaurant & Lounge owner Lisa Norman with her staff.

By Lynn Jones | Unique Academy of Excellence owned by 1982 Raines graduate Lisa Norman has been located in the Shoppes of Sherwood for years. The plaza is also home to other businesses ranging from Domino’s Pizza to Tru Dreemz Barber Shop and the Majestic Event Center. For more than 18 years, Norman operated her daycare until a new vision came to life of a location where the area’s residents can frequent  a restaurant close to their home, mix, mingle, lounge and enjoy good food. Seizing the dream, she recently added to the cadre of mostly black-owned business by opening Allusion’s Restaurant and Lounge.

Following the due process, Norman utilized the process she learned years later from then councilman King Holzendorf on the right way to open a business following all of the proper protocols. Soon, with unanimous approval and the designated city zoning notices filed, Norman was on her way. Receiving no disputed actions from the community, the self-funded  Allusion’s opened bringing the Northside’s first entertainment venue in decades. Local residents have since shown overwhelming support of the establishment that employs 28 staff, and boasts a full bar, new décor and diverse menu.  Since its opening, Allusions has been booked with private events, hungry restaurant patrons, and patrons eager  for an after work cocktail happy hour.

The opening, however, has not been well received by everyone.

Jacksonville Urban League/NAACP awardee for her activism, Eunice Barnum has been at attention since Allusion’s opening. “My issue is that the establishment is near a church and a day care.  The law states that this type of business is too close to these businesses. I like her ideas but what does the law say? I have a copy of the application and we were fooled into thinking it would be a restaurant, then it became a restaurant and lounge and now it’s a night club.” said Barnum. Her efforts have included an email campaign, a silent picket protest and complaints to City Hall. Her goal is for her to move the venue someplace else.

“Maybe the church can move, or Allusions can move to a better lit location that has ample parking and not next to a church. Or the cit y can provide some land?” said Barnum.

“My team and I have been working on this venture for two years. I didn’t think it would be this much controversy. This collaboration is intended to spur economic growth, job creation and a family friendly environment,” said Norman. “My only goal is to uplift, bring positive vibes to the neighborhood, bringing in economic opportunities.”

 Currently Allusion’s is open for business and intends to make an impact in the Shoppes of Sherwood space.

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