Recreation & Hospitality

As the population of the region continues to expand, so do the occupations that support this growth.

The following Support Industries continue to produce a wealth of career opportunities in Northeast Florida: Construction, Real Estate, Public Safety, Education, Agribusiness, and Hospitality & Leisure.


Hospitality and Leisure Career Pathway Report


Recreation & Hospitality Companies in the Region

My experiences with travel and being part of different cultures definitely helps me in my career today.

Kearra StreetSouthbank Hotel Jacksonville Riverwalk, Accounts Payable Specialist

The most rewarding part of coaching is helping athletes meet and exceed their goals.

Chad CahoyOwner/Training Coach, Jacksonville Strength & Athletics, LLC.

Try two different internship opportunities. Travel is essential to learn more about types of food and various preparations.

Chef GrigsbyCulinary Management Professor, FSCJ

Don't be afraid to try something new. If it makes you uncomfortable, you'll learn from it. Learning doesn't stop after high school.

Sarah MathisDirector of Fan Experience, Jacksonville Jaguars

Kearra Street

Accounts Payable Specialist, Southbank Hotel Jacksonville Riverwalk

Kearra Street grew up in a military household, moving every four to five years. At age 10, Kearra moved to Okinawa Japan, where she pursued her middle and high school studies. After graduating from Kubaski High School, she moved to Florida to join her mom who had already relocated to the United States.

Kearra was determined to study Business Administration with a concentration in Communications in college. However, after speaking with an admissions counselor at Keiser University, her career pathways plans quickly changed. The counselor suggested that, because of her personality, she may wish to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management. Kearra then spoke with an instructor. After several days of additional consideration, she opted for Hospitality Management. Of this change, Kearra says, "It took me on a much better path--better suited to me. I've met so many wonderful people and have had great experiences."

At Keiser, Kearra further explored the hospitality industry via an internship at the Southbank Hotel Jacksonville Riverwalk. There, she was immersed in a new department each week. Unbeknownst to her, this experience would provide excellent cross-training for her future job. When her internship led to time spent in the Accounting Department, she was hooked. "I thought I would gravitate toward sales, but I love the numbers in accounting and seeing how all parts of the hotel work together."

Once her internship concluded, Kearra and a classmate chose to stay at the Southbank Hotel to work in the Banquet Department. She saw the innerworkings of back of the house operations and got to know many people individually. Then, a part-time opportunity opened in the Accounting Department which gradually led to a full-time position. Today, Kearra is an Accounts Payable Specialist.

Kearra graduated with an Associate of Science in Hospitality Management from Keiser University in 2018. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Hospitality Management.

Kearra emphasizes that working in a hotel involves much more than cleaning a room and providing a check in key. Being people-friendly, adaptable and impeccably organized is critical. Her specialty involves accounting and the ability to navigate the multiple internal computer systems used by the Southbank Hotel. Recalling where specific information is housed is also essential.

"I thought I was organized, but I found a better way to prioritize and track my work." One of her adaptations includes using a daily planner. As a result, month end reports due to corporate and pending vendor bills are all completed and processed timely. Kearra says, "It's important to find something you enjoy. You're crunching numbers but you're also maintaining relationships with vendors, colleagues and individuals at the corporate level."

Kearra's childhood experiences afforded her many opportunities to find home in the world. Now, she is centered in Jacksonville and has found another home in the hospitality industry. She notes, "My experiences with travel and being part of different cultures definitely helps me in my career today."

Sarah Mathis

Director of Fan Experience, Jacksonville Jaguars

Sarah Mathis grew up in Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. A competitive and energetic person by nature, Sarah played a range of sports throughout her life from basketball and volleyball to softball and dance. Today, these same characteristics have driven her professional success.

After high school, Sarah moved to Florida to attend Flagler College and obtain a BS in Sport Management. She was thrilled to learn that a personal passion of hers translated into a degree program. At Flagler College, she studied sports management and promotion, sport finance and law, as well as facility and event management.

While in her junior year, Sarah began an internship with the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of only 32 National Football League franchises. She worked game days and enjoyed the camaraderie, spontaneity and challenge of the various tasks involved. Sarah was exposed to a variety of volunteer activities while in college, but this environment was a favorite.

As a college senior, Sarah took a semester long internship in the spring with the Washington Redskins, her original “home town” team. This resume-builder, combined with her previous Jaguars internship experience, positioned her to return to Jacksonville and seek full time employment with the Jaguars after graduating from Flagler College in April 2011. Although her first role with the team was still considered an internship, she “put in her time” which led to a position in the ticket office.

Since that time, Sarah’s career has prospered with the team and she is now the Jaguars Director of Fan Experience. She is responsible for ensuring all fans are prepared to come to the stadium, training staff on how to create a stellar game day experience, creating policy, and communicating with season ticket holders. Now in her 13th season with the Jaguars, Sarah emphasizes that there is no typical workday. Working at the stadium requires knowledge of multiple operational facets as well as who to go to for efficient answers.

“We wear many hats in the Fan Experience Department,” said Sarah. “Recently, that meant I helped roll out the field tarp on game day because of rain. Whatever it takes, we’ll do.” Sarah said.

The most rewarding aspect of her role is the relationships she creates, from internal staff to front-line team members to the fans. That fun, dynamic energy is what keeps her staff returning and fans excited about each new football season.

“You get out what you put in,” said Sarah. “I put my heart and soul into it. I perform at my highest level and stick out tough situations. It may not always be easy, but it will be worth it.”
Working in the Sports and Recreation pathway offers many options. Sarah emphasized that at the Jaguars there are roles in ticket operations and sales, marketing, finance, IT, corporate sponsorship, events, public relations, recruiting, as well as the legal team and the Jaguars Foundation.

For more information, check out:

Rich Grigsby

Professor of Culinary Management, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ)

Classic cooking shows--Julia Child’s The French Chef and Graham Kerr’s The Galloping Gourmet--inspired a young man from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to pursue a career that now impacts the educational and professional development of students in the Culinary Management program at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ).

Chef Grigsby, Professor of Culinary Management at Florida State College at Jacksonville, is a recipient of the 2021 Postsecondary Educator of the Year Award from the Center for the Advancement of Food Service Education. However, before reaching this point professionally, he learned about the industry while watching television chefs as a child.

After the steel mill crash in Pennsylvania, Chef Grigsby left Pittsburgh and, at his brother’s urging, relocated to Palm Beach where he began a newly created 3-year apprenticeship at The Breakers, a luxury resort hotel. This foundational experience led to the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta and other exclusive clubs and hotels.

At FSCJ, Chef Grigsby is now part of a 5-person instruction and operational team offering a Culinary Management associate degree program, one of 2 state college programs of twelve possible in the state to receive an exemplary rating because of full compliance. The program was accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission through 2026. FSCJ also offers a Culinary Arts Technical Certificate. Students learn menu and marketing, food production, nutrition, and hospitality management.

Students meet learning objectives via different labs. For example, Chef ensures plenty of onions are available to practice knife skills. Students execute skills through a simulated restaurant environment, Café Frisch, created through a financial gift by Holocaust Survivor and Jacksonville resident, Harry Frisch, founder of Beaver Street Fisheries. Proper plating, receiving customer feedback, and restaurant operations are imperative aspects of the curriculum. Chef said, “You can’t learn computer programming without a computer. You can’t learn all aspects of culinary arts without a restaurant.”

FSCJ students have access to an Aquaponics lab and an organic garden featuring various fruits and herbs, speaking to the Chef’s commitment to using seasonal fresh foods. He said, “When the door at Whole Foods opens up and you smell strawberries, that’s when you use strawberries.” This concept was reinforced during his 4-restaurant stage in FSCJ’s sister city of Nantes, France, where he learned more about various cooking techniques and grew accustomed to 4 AM trips to market and to local rabbit and goat farms to source daily ingredients.

While Chef prefers to cook sans-recipe, some roles in the profession involve distinct precision--pastry chefs who cannot deviate from a recipe or risk failure, or a hospital dietician who must adhere to careful guidelines to maintain a patient’s health. Students can use the AS program as a foundation for a nutrition degree to create menus for athletes or individuals with special dietary needs. They also learn important concepts about trends, projections, interpersonal skills, and how food brings people together. “Conflict resolution begins at the table,” Chef stated.

Culinary Arts graduates are making their careers in the region, at Restaurant Orsay, Black Sheep Restaurant, and One Ocean for example. “I always walk past the kitchen to check for former students,” Chef said.

Adriana Farrell, Culinary Arts 2020 Graduate, is excited about her career pathway. She said, “The program revolves around teaching students the different skills needed for every position in a restaurant, from a waiter to a chef. When I first walked into Café Frisch, I opened the door to a successful future. FSCJ’s Culinary Program has helped turn myself into the chef I once dreamed of becoming.“

The program involves completion of two internships. Opportunities range from international, national, and regional internship opportunities. Chef recommends that students “Try two completely different internships. Determine what you want but don’t be disappointed with where you may go. Travel is essential to learn more about types of food and various preparations.”

To watch FSCJ students share their internship experiences, click:

Chad Cahoy

Owner of Jacksonville Strength & Athletics, LLC

Coach Chad Cahoy aligns with a successful career that highlights his true talents
Business owner Chad Cahoy is enjoying great success but it hasn’t come without challenges. Like an Olympic athlete, the personal trainer and coach has demonstrated dedication, commitment, sacrifice and perseverance to accomplish his business goals.

Cahoy’s business, Jacksonville Strength & Athletics, LLC, was recently voted one of the best 26 gyms in Jacksonville in 2021 by In less than two years, the gym is financially stable and thriving.

Originally from Wyoming, Cahoy is a retired Navy Veteran with a lifelong interest in fitness and athletics. During his 20-year Naval career, Cahoy served as a command fitness leader, running group classes and working with active duty personnel who had fallen out of fitness standards.

“I have a passion for helping people become the best versions of themselves,” Cahoy said. “I’m going to do my best to make you better.”

After Cahoy retired in 2014, he focused on education and experience to become a high level coach and trainer. He attended Keiser University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology, and an associate’s degree in Physical Therapy. While attending Keiser and after graduation, Cahoy worked at several fitness centers before deciding to open his own gym.

With all the paperwork in place, Cahoy was set to open in April 2020. Unfortunately, the opening date occurred the same week as fitness centers in Florida were shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. After a six-week delay, Jacksonville Strength & Athletics opened in May 2020. It offers personal training, group classes and Olympic weightlifting. Even though gyms reopened, not everyone was ready to return.

“I knew it was going to be tough, especially during the times we are in,” Cahoy said. “I did whatever I could do to keep the doors open.”

Cahoy took on a full-time job at another business, and offered coaching at his gym from 5:30-8 p.m. In time, he was able to leave the other job and focus solely on his gym. His typical work day begins before 6 a.m. and ends after 8 p.m. Despite the long hours, he enjoys coaching athletes of all ages and abilities.

“The most rewarding part of coaching is helping athletes meet and exceed their goals,” Cohoy said. “To see the look on their faces when they do is priceless.”

For those considering a fitness career, Cahoy recommends extensive education and training. Along with the ability to motivate, he believes a good coach demonstrates compassion and empathy. With numerous fitness career pathways, Cahoy advises having a unique niche. Jacksonville Strength & Athletics is the only Olympic weightlifting focused facility in Jacksonville and home to Jacksonville Weightlifting, a USA Weightlifting Club.

Cahoy’s athletes include his son, Caden, who became interested in weightlifting at age 9 after going to a cross-fit gym with his dad. Now 17, the Mandarin High School student is a member of the USA Weightlifting team and recently competed at the Junior Pan-Am Championships in Mexico. Caden Cahoy has his sights set on one day competing in the Olympics.

To learn more about Jacksonville Strength & Athletics, visit or follow @jaxstrengthandathletics.