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Take a sneak peek at Hopscotch, Gainesville square’s newest restaurant
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Downtown Gainesville's Hopscotch is opening Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The restaurant will serve Mediterranean-inspired dishes and focus on fun and exotic cocktails. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hopscotch is adding a pinch of Mediterranean flare and a large dose of cocktails to the Gainesville square. 

Albert Lunalover, co-owner and head chef at Avocados Restaurant, chose the empty space next to his restaurant for the new business, which will have its soft opening at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 23. 

David Camalier, manager of Avocados and Hopscotch, said the new restaurant will focus heavily on its cocktail menu.

He said people can expect barrel-aged and smoked cocktails. Camalier has already prepped the ingredients for some of Hopscotch’s signature drinks. He infused tequila with jalapeños to make spicy margaritas and soaked pineapples in vodka for over a month to make the pineapple martinis. 

The name Hopscotch plays into the restaurant’s drink-centric menu. Camalier said the bartenders will prepare a Scotch whisky drink called “Hopscotch,” and plan to create cocktails using beer, which connects to the “hop” portion of the name. 

“We wanted something quirky and fun,” Camalier said. 

Before deciding the menu, Camalier and Lunalover brainstormed Mediterranean-inspired dishes and came up with around 70. The menu people will see Tuesday offers a condensed version of their list. 

“Albert then went away into his creative hole to work his magic,” Camalier said. “He just came up with the menu, and we’ll definitely add more items later.”

Two of the restaurant’s signature dishes are ahi tuna salad and seasonal flatbread with oyster mushrooms, ricotta cheese, truffle oil and lemon zest. 

Camalier said the menu will change depending on the public’s reaction to the food.

The space has a patio and seats up to 60 people. Camalier encourages people to visit Hopscotch for a “great meal in a relaxed and social environment.”

It’s Camalier’s 39th restaurant opening, so he said he knows to keep his expectations low, but so far he has found himself pleasantly surprised. 

“This has surpassed all of my expectations,” Camalier said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this. Come in and enjoy yourself and give us any suggestions that you may want.”

For now, Hopscotch will be open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Camalier said next week he will look into opening for dinner. 

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