On the Avenue, hip retirees will mingle with young professionals, families and tourists who all flock to this seaside city to play.
Delray Beach’s nickname is the “village by the sea,” and a few decades ago, the name fit. The sleepy seaside city had a main street, Atlantic Avenue, that stretched from the farmlands out west to the ocean in the east.
During the past 30 years, however, the quaint city with the Old Florida style has transformed into a dining, entertainment and tourism destination.
The city’s renaissance has, in turn, driven demand for homes for people who want to live in or near the downtown. These residents include retiring Baby Boomers, professionals, families and young singles.
As the population continues to pour into Palm Beach County, city and business leaders say Delray Beach is poised to stand as the best example of a place where people who live there love to play.
I think it’s going to be the destination in Palm Beach County, a melting pot of ages from 18 to 80,” said Tom Prakas, a restaurant broker who has handled more than 50 restaurant transactions worth more than $100 million in Delray Beach.
Prakas likened downtown’s Atlantic Avenue to a mix between Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and Clematis Street in West Palm Beach.
“The town is on fire,” agreed Don DeVere, vice president of The Edwards Companies, which is building the mixed-use Atlantic Crossing downtown. “Delray Beach has a great vibe and sells itself. In our view, there is no better place in southeast Florida.”
Delray Beach is no Miami, and most people are happy to keep it that way.
But Delray Beach is getting the amenities typical of more sophisticated cities like Miami, such as the Delray City Market food hall and several new hotels.
In addition, the city just welcomed a multi-million dollar wine bar and gourmet restaurant, The Wine Room, plus the upscale iPic movie theater.
And then there are the dozens of restaurants and bars of all types clustering in and around the downtown.
Mixed-use projects by sophisticated developers also are taking shape at key junctures downtown.
Among them: Atlantic Crossing at Atlantic Avenue and Federal Highway near the Intracoastal Waterway; and a project around the Sundy House boutique hotel, restaurant and gardens. The project, formerly known as Midtown Delray at Swinton and Atlantic avenues, will incorporate historic homes into a new complex of apartments, offices and shops.
Todd Rosenberg, whose Pebb Capital just paid $40 million for the Sundy House property and adjacent buildings, said the city will see “incredible growth” during the next 10 years.
“This is an authentic market that’s been around forever but has come back to life, and today is well beyond a food and beverage destination,” said Rosenberg, whose family has long ties to the city.
But even as he touted his plan to build 70,000 square feet of new office space at the gateway to downtown, Rosenberg pivoted back to the reason office tenants will want to lease there.
It’s a fun place.
“We’re hoping to provide one of the first real office locations for people who want the best of all worlds, next to an incredible entertainment destination and adjacent to fitness, food and lifestyle,” Rosenberg said.
Play is what helped put Delray Beach on the map locally in the 1990s as city leaders tried to revive the stagnant downtown’s fortunes.
“They used to call it Dull-Ray,” said Prakas, the Boca Raton restaurant broker who has done more than 50 deals in the city. “You could camp out on the avenue and never be hit by a car after 9 p.m.”
In 1989, voters approve $21.5 million for beautification and public works projects, allowing for the refurbishment of Old School Square at Swinton and Atlantic Avenues, the gateway to the downtown.
Old School’s cultural offerings, plus restaurants 32 East and Dakota, help kicked off the downtown’s rebirth.
Today, even weeknights are clogged with diners wandering the avenue in search of food and fun. The avenue’s growth has been so pronounced it is now spreading, including north along Second Avenue, an area dubbed Pineapple Grove, and down other streets.
Interest used to be from local players but now regional and national restaurants want a piece of the downtown.
Prakas has sold, and resold, several restaurants. One property, the current Vic & Angelo’s at Atlantic Avenue and the train tracks, has changed hands six times.
The city’s liveliness continues to attract developers meeting demand from people who want to live near the fun.
“It’s a place where people park their cars and never go anywhere else,” said Bil Bathurst, a longtime resident and now a member of the city council.
Apartments, townhouses and condominiums have been built, and more are planned in and near the downtown.
Even old homes north of Atlantic Avenue and west of Swinton Avenue, in and around Lake Ida, are changing hands for big money as new buyers tear down old homes and build luxury, multi-million dollar estates.
Bathurst, a real estate agent with NV Realty Group, said a home at 1415 N. Swinton Avenue sold for $620,000, was torn down and now is being rebuilt into a mansion. Another home at 508 N. 14th Street, which sold for $530,000, also was torn down and is being redeveloped into a large, Key West-style home.
And just east of Swinton Avenue, at 426 Highland Lane, a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house just sold for $1.7 million.
Who is moving there?
“Wealthy people from all over the world,” Bathurst said, citing buyers from Boca Raton, California, New York and Latin America.
Development isn’t just been confined to the downtown, however. West of the city, builders such as GL Homes continue to construct new luxury single-family homes for families and residents 55 years and older.
The Delray Marketplace, once considered a forlorn shopping center complex west of Florida’s Turnpike, now is city central for the thousands of homes in residential communities there.
These communities are just west of upscale enclaves built near Morikami Park. This strip of Jog Road, dubbed Millionaire’s Row, features enclaves such as Addison Reserve Country Club where some homes do, indeed, cost in the millions.
Even north-south corridors such as Military Trail and Congress Avenue are seeing redevelopment into new shopping centers and apartment complexes as demand for residences grow.
3 KEY PROJECTS TO WATCH
Where Atlantic Avenue meets the Intracoastal Waterway is the setting for a mixed-use complex geared to the future Delray Beach resident.
Atlantic Crossing is a $300 million complex spanning two blocks and featuring office and retail space, plus for-sale condominiums as well as rental apartments. The project is being developed by The Edwards Companies.
The property, bounded by Federal Highway to the west and the city’s Veterans Park to the east, has been in the works for years. But it finally is going vertical, with the first phase set for completion by 2021 and the second phase set for 2023.
Don Devere, The Edward Companies vice president, said Delray Beach has several unique features that make it a good bet for the future. “It has a nice balance of residents, office workers and vacationers,” DeVere said.
Retirees moving to Florida may find interest in Atlantic Crossings’ planned condominiums, or they may prefer the flexibility of renting one of the project’s apartments, as DeVere expects many young professionals in their 20s and 30s will be inclined to do.
In addition to the office and retail space, DeVere also is upbeat about plans to build new office space in the center. Atlantic Crossing will feature 20,000-square-foot floor plates to accommodate large office users. Merrill Lynch, for instance, already plans to lease a full floor in the project’s first building.
“After a spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale during his college years, Tom Prakas knew what he wanted to do: own nightclubs. He spent years running highly successful clubs and restaurants in Ohio, Georgia, and south Florida before the father of seven decided it was time for a change. He founded Prakas and Company in 1999, specializing in real estate deals for the hospitality industry. His company has brokered more than 450 sales and leases for some of the top restaurants in the hottest areas in south Florida–Atlantic Avenue, Las Olas, and Clematis. In this episode of The People of Palm Beach, the Delray Beach resident reveals why it seems some restaurant locations are jinxed, the new deals he’s working on, and his favorite restaurant in Palm Beach County that you’ve probably never heard of. Listen to why Tom Prakas is one of the most successful People of Palm Beach…
“I believe that the biggest aspect of being a CEO is you have to be the one to MAKE IT HAPPEN. You have to guide your troops and delegate in a professional manner but that is effective. You have to teach your staff the intricacies of your business and let them go out and communicate the company’s message with their own style. Your staff’s sales pitch should be authentic and come from their own point of view.”
Prakas & Co. Achieves Lease with MaxMotive for Combined 22,500 SF Classic Muscle Car Showroom & Dealership in the Heart of Boca Raton
Deal Provides City of Boca Raton with One of the Area’s Largest, Most Upscale Classic Muscle Car Showrooms
Prakas & Co., a full-service premier concierge restaurant brokerage firm, recently secured a lease for 2,500 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of warehouse industrial space with MaxMotive, a classic muscle car showroom and dealership. While MaxMotive’s flagship showroom and dealership is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Boca Raton location will be one of the largest and most upscale classic muscle car showrooms in the South Florida area. Athan “Tom” Prakas, owner of Prakas & Co., is the exclusive broker in the deal. Debbie Pronyk is the lessor.
The deal was secured in eight days. The space, which was occupied by a custom woodworking manufacturing company for the past 20 years, is located in the same building as Prakas & Co.’s headquarters, at 1800 NW 1st Court, Boca Raton, 33432. Prakas & Co.’s headquarters is located in the second-floor offices; MaxMotive will occupy the 20,000-square-foot warehouse connected to its office and 2,500 office space below its office. It opened on Aug. 10, 2019.
“MaxMotive will provide the city of Boca Raton with another beautiful dealership for classic muscle cars and specialty novelty vehicles,” said Prakas. “A majority of MaxMotive’s clientele already live in the immediate area. We are excited to have a full-fledged car showroom underneath our own office building.”
MaxMotive ships a majority of its muscle car inventory overseas to South America and Europe.
Prakas & Co. achieves success by taking the extra steps to follow up, find the right space, broker the ins and out of every deal on both sides, and ultimately close on every opportunity it is given.
About Prakas & Co.: Prakas & Co. is a full-service premier concierge brokerage firm headquartered in Boca Raton. Established in 1999, Prakas & Co. has sold or leased more than 450 restaurants and commercial properties in the last 19 years. It covers small café sales and leases, all the way up to some of the largest national and global restaurant groups real estate needs. Prakas & Co. provides personalized services – including business sales, franchise tenant representation, consulting, marketing, sales and leasing opportunities – every step of the way. South Florida’s hottest restaurant corridors, including Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Clematis Street in West Palm Beach and Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, have all been enhanced by the Prakas touch. For more information, visit www.prakascompany.com, call 561.368.0003, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toast acquired StratEx, a provider of HR and payroll software for restaurants. StratEx’s HR software and consulting services help restaurants automate applicant tracking, scheduling, payroll, benefits, and labor law compliance.
“At Toast, we know that for a restaurant to be successful it often starts with recruiting and retaining a great team, yet many restaurants wrestle with employee turnover that can exceed 70 percent,” said Chris Comparato, CEO of Toast. “By adding StratEx to the Toast Platform, we can better support restaurants of all sizes in simplifying HR, payroll, and talent management on a platform that works seamlessly with Toast and our technology partner ecosystem. As a result of the acquisition, the former StratEx product is now part of Toast Payroll & Team Management, an all-in-one HR solution built specifically for the restaurant industry. Designed to seamlessly work with Toast Point of Sale, the solution automates employee onboarding, accurately tracks hours across locations, streamlines payroll, and simplifies compliance for restaurants of all sizes.
“We’re passionate about the restaurant industry and helping our community of restaurateurs succeed in today’s dynamic – and often challenging – labor market,” said Adam Ochstein, CEO of StratEx. “In Toast we discovered a partner that is equally as passionate about the restaurant community. Joining forces allows us to accelerate investments in our platform and build new employee-facing products that will allow restaurants running on Toast to attract, hire, and retain great teams.”
OpenTable partnered with Caviar, Grubhub and Uber Eats to offer delivery and pick-up options at thousands of restaurants on OpenTable’s newly updated iOS app.
“Sometimes plans change or the weather doesn’t cooperate. Instead of canceling their reservation, diners can now enjoy the meal they had planned from home,” said Joseph Essas, CTO, OpenTable. “Our goal is to make OpenTable the go-to app for all dining occasions. Adding delivery is an important next step.”
“While we know that our diners love to join us to get the full restaurant experience, we understand they need options for when they can’t make it in,” said Dan Simons, Co-owner & Founder, FarmersRestaurant Group. “Delivery through OpenTable gives us the flexibility to attract and serve diners, no matter where they are and how they want their meal.”
When searching for a restaurant or visiting a restaurant profile page on OpenTable’s iOS app, diners will see a “Get it delivered” button or carousel. Diners who choose delivery are then directed to the restaurant’s preferred partner(s) to complete the transaction. For restaurants with multiple delivery partners, OpenTable shows each choice. At launch, Caviar, Grubhub and Uber Eats will power delivery for over 8,000 restaurants across 90 metros in the U.S. on the OpenTable iOS app. Future features will include estimated delivery time and cost.
“From the very start, Caviar has been focused on building a network of the best local restaurants in every neighborhood,” said Laura Englander, Business Development & Strategy Lead at Caviar. “We’re proud to be teaming up with OpenTable to help even more diners discover and order from the most crave-worthy restaurants in their communities.”
“We want to make it incredibly easy for diners to discover new Grubhub restaurants and order their favorite dishes on all the digital channels they visit when they’re hungry,” said Goody Seif, Senior Director of Business Development at Grubhub. “By partnering with OpenTable, we’re also helping our restaurant partners reach more diners with delivery when a visit to the restaurant or a reservation isn’t available.”
“At Eats, we’re always thinking about how to improve our customers’ and partners’ experiences,” said Jeremy Downs, Director of Business Development at Uber Eats. “That’s why we’re so excited to partner with OpenTable to deliver meals to millions of diners from their favorite restaurants.”
OpenTable also announced the launch of its redesigned iOS and Android app, which provides more relevant, personalized options to help expedite the decision-making process. The new homescreen features dynamic, data-backed recommendations tailored to each diner based on past bookings, favorites, and other insights to provide a personalized in-app experience. Diners can also vote a restaurant up or down to improve recommendations and make the app smarter over time.
Olo’s Expo Debuts
Olo’s Expo, its tablet-based order manager, is available for all customers to use. Expo allows restaurant brands and their Front-of-House (FOH) staff to actively manage and ‘expedite’ digital orders on the fly. Orders from direct and indirect channels appear in a single, consolidated stream regardless of how orders are placed and how they are handed off.
The only fully sanctioned order manager of its kind, Expo is a modern progressive web application designed to provide lightweight access to the digital ordering tools Olo brands already use. Expo works as a standalone system or in conjunction with dozens of popular Point of Sale (POS) systems already integrated with Olo’s digital ordering platform. Expo is fully device and operating system agnostic, allowing restaurants to choose the device that best suits their needs. Take a tour of Expo >>
Expo’s public release follows two years of R&D and testing with beta partners. It allows for effortless order and store management of the day’s orders to drive sales and guest satisfaction. Whether orders are picked up in-store, curbside, drive-thru, or sent out for delivery with an in-house or third-party courier, Expo is a window to all orders originating outside the restaurant. It is the only sanctioned order management solution of its kind on the market, offering proper two-way integration to popular marketplaces and DSPs that together enable delivery access to the majority of the U.S. population.
“Digital ordering has been exploding in popularity and calls for new ways for restaurant teams to manage growing demand,” said Noah Glass, Founder & CEO of Olo. “We’re thrilled to invest in our platform on our customers’ behalf to bring agility to in-store operations with Expo.”
While most of Olo’s technology offerings are designed to integrate directly into existing systems, the company built Expo to add new layers of visibility and order management for in-store teams. Brands can use Expo to:
Manage the entire flow of orders from direct (brand apps and website) and indirect (third-party marketplace) channels
Early fire an order if a customer arrives ahead of schedule
Interface to delivery couriers via approved integrations with Delivery Service Providers (DSPs) such as Caviar, DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, etc.
Preview upcoming orders and be alerted of large orders
Answer inquiries about recently fulfilled orders
Earl Enterprises is one of several companies using Expo in select locations.
“Our restaurants using Expo are thrilled to have the information and tools they need at their fingertips,” said Josi Rodriguez, Marketing Manager at Earl Enterprises. “At our training visits, we saw an immediate improvement in how orders are executed to save our team members’ time and energy.” Expo is available for all Olo customers to leverage at no additional cost.
Revel Partners Up
Revel Systems announced details of the Revel Solution Partner program, an initiative designed to increase the company’s sales reach and provide local, on-the-ground resources in more markets.
Candidates joining the Revel Solution Partner program will be equipped to easily manage the end-to-end sales process for Revel Essentials™, the cloud-based POS designed for small to midsize businesses. Revel is introducing the following program benefits for authorized solution partners:
Program economics designed to drive increased earnings for partners
Qualified partners can also sell Revel’s payment processing solution, Revel Advantage to their sales portfolio and further increase their earning potential through revenue sharing
Partners can manage the sales process through an online portal, making it easy to do business with Revel
“Restaurants and retailers now rely on technology more than ever to be successful, and local partner support is critical for customers to get maximum value from their technology investment,” said Chris Lybeer, chief strategy officer at Revel Systems. “We designed our new program so our solution partners can generate healthy revenue from our cloud-based software-as-a-service offerings.”
Coming Soon to Boca — Restaurant Row
Prakas & Co.. achieved the largest multi-unit restaurant leasing assignment in Boca Raton history at what is to be Restaurant Row. Located in Midtown Boca Raton, Restaurant Row, top image, slated for completion in the first quarter of 2020, will be Boca Raton’s first restaurant-only driven complex. Athan “Tom” Prakas, owner of Prakas & Co., is the exclusive broker for the deal.
Located directly across from Town Center Mall at Boca Raton’s Nordstrom entrance, Restaurant Row will feature 22,500 square feet of total restaurant space. Prakas & Co. is pre-leasing these spaces to upscale restaurants, which will shape the next phase of the up-and-coming Midtown Boca Raton project.
Developed by Crocker Partners, Restaurant Row, a one-story new construction project, will be located at 5355 Town Center Road, Boca Raton, 33486, on the site of The Plaza office building.
Predicted to attract the more than 14 million annual visitors to Town Center Mall, Restaurant Row will be a hotspot in midtown Boca Raton, which is emerging as a hub for entertainment, dining and shopping.
“I am pleased to continue to help high-profile restaurants locate to Midtown Boca Raton at Restaurant Row by achieving this largest multi-unit restaurant leasing assignment in the history of the city,” said Prakas.
Arbella’s Got Edge
The Arbella Insurance Group launched Arbella Edge for Restaurants, a comprehensive coverage endorsement available to owners of individual restaurants and small to mid-size chains operating in MA, CT, RI and NH. This product ireplaces Arbella’s existing Dining Advantage endorsement and offers combined property and general liability coverage for new customers and current policy holders who need increased limits for a broader array of coverages. Additionally, Arbella has broadened the coverage offered through its Restaurants Spotlight endorsement to include reimbursement for losses incurred by restaurant owners due to Food Contamination and Boil Water Orders put in place by local municipalities.
“While fire is a primary concern, it’s just one of many risks facing restaurants today,” said John Donohue, President and CEO of Arbella Insurance Group. “Arbella knows that today’s business owners must protect themselves from other exposures directly related to restaurant activities.” We are proud to offer a complete and comprehensive product like Arbella Edge, which gives restaurant owners the peace of mind that their business will recover, no matter what types of losses are incurred.”
The suite of coverage in Arbella’s Arbella Edge for Restaurants also provides policyholders with assistance when losses are associated with, but not limited to, the following:
Food Contamination: Covers certain costs associated with a Public Health Authority requiring that operations be suspended due to the discovery of, suspicion of, or exposure to “food contamination” at the described premises.
Boil Water Order: Covers losses incurred due to the “suspension” of “operations” at the described premises caused by or resulting from a municipal “boil-water order.”
Restaurant Wine Stock: Covers the value of a policyholders’ restaurant wine stock in the event of loss or damage resulting from a specified loss at the described premises.
Spoilage: Covers losses due to change in temperature or humidity from mechanical breakdown or failure of refrigeration, cooling or humidity control apparatus or equipment due to conditions beyond the policyholder’s control.
Credit Card Forgery: Covers losses due to the good faith acceptance of credit card payment in exchange for merchandise, money or services as part of a normal business transaction.
“Like most business owners, restaurant owners have plenty of things to worry about,” said Jeff Witt, AVP Commercial Lines, Research and Development, Arbella Insurance Group. “Having the right type of insurance policy and coverage amounts to properly protect themselves and their employees shouldn’t be one of them, yet it’s as critical to the business as having fresh food and positive reviews. With Arbella Edge, we’ve created a straightforward product that’s tailor-made for individual restaurants and small to mid-size chains.”
Lunchbox Rolls Out
Lunchbox, the “Shopify for restaurants,” debuted its omnichannel digital platform for the food industry–desgned to make it affordable for restaurants to bring digital ordering to their customers directly–via mobile app, web, and in-shop kiosks–as well as built-in, automated marketing campaigns so restaurants can build their businesses and reward regulars. Lunchbox also integrates with “last mile” delivery companies, like Relay, when eateries don’t have their own delivery staff.
“For the past twenty years, third-party ordering apps such as Seamless have charged participating restaurants hefty fees–around 30%–leaving food providers a mere 5% in profits off those online orders. Additionally, these third-party ordering apps don’t share customer data with restaurants, which would allow them to send deals to customers,” said Andrew Boryk, co-founder and CEO of Lunchbox. “Lunchbox equalizes the playing field by offering an easy, affordable range of services that weren’t within reach before, whether it was a lack of business development savvy or coding skills.”
After a soft launch in February, Lunchbox has signed more than 100 restaurants nationwide, including major chains like Bareburger, Sticky’s and 16 Handles. Participating restaurants have been able to boost online order revenue by 25% per month, create on-brand menus, and engage customers through easy-to-execute email marketing campaigns–an expertise that restaurants generally lack.
“We needed a white-label digital platform that would help Bareburger meet the needs of the modern customer, but found that there were no affordable, omni-channel Software-as-a-Service solutions on the market. Our options were to either spend a million dollars on building out an ordering platform and hire a marketer, or contract upwards of five different firms that would work in silos,” said Euripides Pelekanos, CEO of Bareburger. “Lunchbox is the first provider to offer it all, with packaged options that let us–not other companies–serve our customers directly and access food trends data to learn more about them, without the overhead of on-staff developers or marketing professionals. Since we’ve started using the service, we are on track to save $1.86M annually.”
In addition to its user-friendly features on the seller side, customers can enjoy the same benefits of third-party ordering apps, like tracking their meal in real time and earning points toward rewards programs.
Joella’s Hot Chicken Expands Footprint
Joella’s Hot Chicken plans to open nine new stores in the Southeast and Midwest by the end of 2019. The expansion will increase the restaurant’s footprint to five states and reinforces Joella’s as the largest hot chicken restaurant brand in the United States.
Four of the new stores will open throughout metropolitan Atlanta in Cumberland, Kennesaw, Woodstock and Newnan; and three new stores will open in Florida’s Melbourne, Largo and Seminole communities. Additionally, Joella’s has signed leases for a third Cincinnati-area location in Mason, Ohio and Indiana’s fourth location in Fort Wayne.
Truck Driver Hall of Fame Honorees
US Foods Holding Corp. said eight of its drivers were named to the 2019 class of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) Truck Driver Hall of Fame.
The honored US Foods drivers are:
Percy Ardion of Houston
Phillip Bachor of Albuquerque
William “Ray” Boruff of Knoxville, Tennessee
Glenn Fisher of Altoona, Pennsylvania
Robert “Andy” Fitzgerald of Knoxville, Tennessee
Gaylen Giffin of Altoona, Pennsylvania
Larry “Denver” Jiles of Atlanta
Roger Lusk of Lubbock, Texas
“At US Foods, we are committed to developing a team of highly skilled and trained drivers who are committed to putting the safety of our employees, customers and fellow drivers first,” said Mary Zmuda, vice president of safety for US Foods. “The drivers honored have clearly demonstrated this commitment in practice as they serve our operators each day. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”
Only truck drivers with the best safety records and longevity of service are eligible for the IFDA Truck Driver Hall of Fame. Drivers must have at least 25 years of employment with an IFDA member company with no chargeable accidents and may not have any moving violations within the last five years.
“[Business was] probably down about 30 percent in the month of April with the presence [of firefighters],” Victor Korobka said. “You hear [people walking by] say, is there a bomb scare? Is there a fire?”
City Commissioner Adam Frankel said he feels most of the restaurants have complied with the city’s request to follow the occupancy ordinance.
“It seems to me Acting City Manager Neil de Jesus and his force did a swift job on cleaning things up,” said Frankel.
“It was a very large reaction to the problem, and now that we have scaled back the problem, we are trying to figure out the outlying causes and move forward,” said Christian Prakas, a broker for businesses in Delray Beach.
Prakas said the conversation needs to move forward now.
“In my eyes, we need to review the current occupancy ratings and see if those are the right occupancy for those times,” Prakas said.
Another option is creating a hybrid permit for restaurants that want to convert into bars at night.
Frankel said he feels it’s time to start having conversations and crafting solutions to make the city and the business owners happy.
On a balmy Saturday evening last month, families strolled along East Atlantic Avenue after dining at some of its many popular restaurants.
But around 10 p.m., the street took on a rowdier atmosphere.
By midnight, young adults packed the five blocks between Swinton and Fifth avenues, creating an electric party vibe.
Lines formed outside The Office and Tin Roof. In some cases, revelers spilled onto sidewalks, forcing pedestrians into the street.
Loud techno music poured out of The Office, a restaurant with doors opening to East Atlantic and Northeast Second Avenue. A little to the west, a live band cranked out tunes on the patio of Tin Roof.
“It’s fun. There’s a younger crowd,” said Nicole Rogers, 23, of Boca Raton. She and her sister were standing in line to get into The Office around 11:30 p.m. “We come to socialize.”
But is that late-night reputation as a fun “bar town” one that Delray Beach’s elected leaders want to cultivate?
They are grappling with how to have a vibrant downtown that attracts residents and visitors yet provides a safe experience all around.
“I am seeking the sweet spot that makes sense for our city to have a vibrant nightlife downtown,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said last month. “And that takes into account our long-standing businesses while being safe for all.”
She wants to talk with the established restaurant owners to see how they’ve been affected.
About one-third of East Atlantic Avenue restaurants push aside their tables and chairs to create dance floors on weekend nights. Problem is, nightclubs are not allowed in the city.
In December, city fire marshals began counting late-night patrons after an anonymous tipster alerted the Fire Department about potential overcrowding problems with the Dec. 18 SantaCon pub crawl, said interim City Manager Neal de Jesus, who was fire chief at the time.
At a March 28 City Commission workshop, commissioners were asked whether they wanted to allow “hybrid model” establishments, transforming from restaurant to nightclub after their food service ended. Four of the commissioners balked.
The commission told the Fire Department to bill downtown restaurants for the cost of monitoring them to make sure none exceeded capacity. Downtown restaurants and bars were each hand-delivered a letter explaining the change.
The fees are based on fire marshals’ hourly overtime pay and the number of weekend nights worked. There is a four-hour minimum.
J. Moran, Delray Beach Fire Rescue, counts club patrons as they leave The Office. Fire marshals have been assigned to ensure that establishments comply with occupancy limits after food service ends at night.
A ‘bar town’?
Restaurant owners and managers have appealed to the Downtown Development Authority, a taxing district that markets and promotes the downtown area. It acts as a liaison with local businesses and city officials.
To make city leaders aware of the value of a nighttime economy, the DDA will host a town hall at 10 a.m. July 10 at the Old School Square Fieldhouse. Jim Peters, president of the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute, will be the guest speaker.
“Vibrant social options like bars, restaurants, live music venues and nightclubs attract entrepreneurs, visitors, residents,” Laura Simon, DDA executive director, wrote in an email. “They create jobs and drive economic development within the city and business district.”
Petrolia said she wants to keep the existing rules. If the city lets the restaurants turn into nightclubs after a set time, she’s concerned that Delray Beach’s downtown — with restaurants concentrated in a five-block area — would be known as a “bar town.”
During the second half of July, while the City Commission takes a break, City Attorney Lynn Gelin will research how nearby cities handle their nightlife issues and compile a memo for commissioners to consider.
“Even if hybrids are allowed, the restaurants would get only a slight bump in their occupancy limit,” Gelin said, “not the double and triple number of patrons they are packing in.”
Case in point: On April 7, The O.G., a bar on Southeast Second Avenue, was shut down by fire marshals with the help of city police. Its occupancy limit is 59 people. The fire marshals counted 267 patrons, according to de Jesus. It has paid bills totaling $12,390.55 for April and May.
De Jesus likened the occupancy problem to speeding every day and not getting caught. It’s still illegal. He said he doesn’t worry about fires. He’s more concerned about potential violence and the city’s liability if it looked the other way.
Some restaurant managers are upset by the bills.
Victor Korobka, general manager of Buddha Sky Bar, told commissioners in May that he’s “feeling not wanted.” Korobka said he has helped feed homeless people on Thanksgiving and participated in the annual Savor the Avenue outdoor dining event that raises money for charity.
Buddha can appeal its bills of $7,842.25 for April and $10,203.56 for May, according to the city attorney’s office. Appeals will be heard by the acting fire chief and then move on to the city’s Board of Adjustments.
As of June 28, no appeals were filed.
Johnnie Brown’s is another unhappy restaurant. The 10-year-old, open-air eatery features live classic rock music.
“Many of our regular customers are maturing boomers, and at least 70 to 75 percent of them are locals from the surrounding community,” manager Bruce McDonald wrote in an email in mid-June.
Restaurants are working with the city to count their patrons and keep occupancy within the limits set by state law. As a result, Johnnie Brown’s is no longer monitored since it has been able to show it can maintain legal occupancy levels on its own without the help of the fire marshals. But it did receive bills for April and May, which “are under analysis,” McDonald wrote.
Pros and cons
Tin Roof management would like to pursue a “hybrid model” to increase late-night occupancy, said manager Christina Godbout.
The restaurant, which features live music, paid a $7,220.13 bill in April. Its May bill of $6,106.67, due by July 3, will be paid, Godbout said.
The city will consider the pros and cons of allowing hybrid businesses with late-night crowds. Increased trash and public safety concerns are at the top of the issues list. Other issues include what effect permitting this operational change might have on other established businesses and the overall quality of life for city residents.
“Safety is the main concern,” said Christian Prakas, a restaurant broker who fills Atlantic Avenue spaces. “But if a restaurant is paying $100 a square foot, it can’t afford the rent if it has to pay a monthly fee” for occupancy monitoring.
At least one restaurant, though, has found a way to profit from the nightlife without being charged a fee.
Sazio, an Italian restaurant on East Atlantic, closes before midnight, manager Hector Zuluaga said.
But it keeps a window open to sell slices of pizza and bottled water until 3:30 a.m. on weekends.
Prakas & Co., a full-service premier concierge restaurant brokerage firm, has brought two high-profile deals – Meat Market and Copperfish Kitchen – to midtown Boca Raton. Athan “Tom” Prakas, owner of Prakas & Co., is the exclusive broker in the deals.
Meat Market will open in the Renaissance Hotel at 2000 NW 19th St., 33431 in spring 2020; and Copperfish Kitchen will open in fall 2019 at the former Uncle Tai’s space at Boca Center, located at 5250 Town Center Cr., 33486. Both are new long-term leases.
Prakas led the deals at a time when Boca Raton is experiencing continued growth, and the midtown area of the city is adding new eateries, and more luxury apartments, condos, and retail. Much of the city’s growth is due to tax law changes that are drawing more residents from the Northeast.
“I am very pleased to have secured the deals to bring these two very popular restaurants to Boca Raton,” said Prakas. “Boca Raton continues to grow to be a restaurant, dining and shopping hot spot, and I will continue to help high profile restaurants find a home in the area.”
Prakas & Co. achieves success by taking the extra steps to follow up, find the right space, broker the ins and out of every deal on both sides, and ultimately close on every opportunity it is given.
While the Meat Market locations in Palm Beach, Florida, Miami Beach, Florida, and Puerto Rico are booming, SB Ice Management, Inc/Meat Market CEO and founding partner David Tornek sees Boca Raton as an ideal location for the modern steakhouse restaurant, per previous media interviews. The 6,700-square-foot restaurant (plus a pool bar) will be open for lunch, dinner and happy hour, and located near the Town Center mall off of Glades Road, just west of I-95. The lessor is The Procachani Group.
The “feminine-friendly” restaurant – featuring a chef-driven menu and a happening bar scene – will service the Renaissance Hotel’s new outdoor pool, pool bar and cabanas, currently undergoing a $1.5 million enhancement. The outdoor pool bar and surrounding area will be the scene of various events and weekend pool bashes, similar to those held at Las Vegas hotels. The entire hotel, which features more than 400 guestrooms, is also undergoing a major upgrade.
George Anagnostou, owner/operator of Copperfish Kitchen and a seasoned seafood wholesaler and restaurant operator from Baltimore, Maryland, is bringing his upscale seafood restaurant and lounge to the high-end, outdoor Boca Center. Boca Center, which is also home to BRIO, Rocco’s Tacos, Tap42 and Morton’s The Steakhouse, is located just west of I-95 on Military Trail. The lessor is Crocker Partners.
Offering only fish that is traceable and sustainable, the contemporary restaurant offers 6,700 square feet of space, plus an adjoining patio. Copperfish Kitchen will feature copper along the walls and atop the bar, indoor-outdoor dining, a vibrant bar area, quiet seating in the rear, and a private dining room. Brunch, lunch and dinner will be offered.
About Prakas & Co.: Prakas & Co. is a full-service restaurant premier concierge restaurant brokerage firm headquartered in Boca Raton. Established in 1999, Prakas & Co. has sold or leased more than 450 restaurants and commercial properties in the last 19 years. It covers small café sales and leases, all the way up to some of the largest national and global restaurant groups real estate needs. Prakas & Co. provides personalized services – including business sales, franchise tenant representation, consulting, marketing, sales and leasing opportunities – every step of the way. South Florida’s hottest restaurant corridors, including Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Clematis Street in West Palm Beach and Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, have all been enhanced by the Prakas touch. For more information, visit www.prakascompany.com, call 561.368.0003, or email email@example.com.