Louie Bossi coming to Delray, taking over 32 East spot

A Louie Bossi restaurant, coming soon to Delray Beach

Downtown Delray Beach is gaining a new Italian restaurant, Louie Bossi, but losing a venerable establishment: Word is that 32 East will close to make way for the Italian eatery.

 

32 East will stay open until building permits are submitted and approved for a major renovation of the space, a process that could take six months.

If all goes to plan, the Louie Bossi restaurant will open roughly this time next year.

32 East general manager John Bates on Tuesday said he’s aware of “rumors” but said the deal hasn’t yet happened: “I believe what they’ve been doing is talking the details. Nothing’s been inked,” Bates said.

However, sources said the Italian concept from West Palm Beach’s Big Time Restaurant Group is a done deal and set to go into the 32 East space at 32 E. Atlantic Ave.

32 East owner Butch Johnson did not return a phone call seeking comment. Big Time’s Todd Herbst declined to comment.

But longtimers know what a mark 32 East has made on the downtown Delray Beach dining market when it opened in 1996, and what a loss it will be for the local dining scene.

32 East restaurant in Delray Beach

 

32 East was among the first upscale restaurants to open on Atlantic Avenue back when the city’s downtown was just getting going in the 1990s.

What a difference 20 years makes. Now downtown Delray Beach is crowded with a range of eateries, and more restaurants clamor for prime space every day.

But the stylish New American-themed 32 East has continued to maintain its place in the downtown dining scene, offered innovative items for years in a casual yet elegant setting.

In a 2000 restaurant review, former Palm Beach Post food critic Paul Reid had this to say about 32 East: “32 East is simply one of the best places within 50 miles, so why don’t we just leave it at that, and I’ll take the rest of the week off, and our readers can call 32 East, make reservations, go and enjoy.”

Louie Bossi originally was slated to go into 44 E. Atlantic Ave., the former Masonic Temple building at Atlantic Avenue and SE First Avenue in downtown Delray. But the deal to retrofit the historic 1924 building, and find adequate parking, became complicated.

So Big Time looked elsewhere.

In an interview last year, Herbst said Big Time has been thrilled, and a little surprised, by the success of Louie Bossi on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant opened in 2015, and it has exceeded expectations, he said.

Earlier this year, Louie Bossi opened in Boca Raton, attached to the new Hyatt Place hotel. The Hyatt is in the heart of downtown on the southeast corner of Federal Highway and Palmetto Park Road.

Last year, Herbst said Big Time was eager to open in Delray Beach even though Boca Raton’s Louie Bossi is in the next city south.

“We love the Delray market,” Herbst said.

Big Time knows it well. The company has operated City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue for 17 years, and it opened Rocco’s Tacos, its Mexican food concept, in 2015.

Louie Bossi is popular because the food is fresh and the wood-and-brick interior is inviting, Herbst said last year. Everything is made in-house, too, including the breads, numerous types of pasta and desserts.

Delray Beach already overflows with Italian restaurants, including Tramonti, Sazio, Vic & Angelo’s and Caffe Luna Rosa, to name a few.

Many are good, Herbst said.

“But we’re going to build a great Italian restaurant,” Herbst said last year. “It’s a natural for downtown Delray Beach.”

Subculture Coffee finds new home in Delray Beach

Subculture Coffee

 

Subculture Coffee Roasters soon will be serving java once again to loyal downtown Delray Beach customers.

The popular coffee shop has leased space at 20 W. Atlantic Avenue, the southwest corner of Swinton and Atlantic avenues. The location formerly was home to Nature’s Way Café.

New home of Subculture Coffee in Delray Beach

The move comes after West Palm Beach-based coffee company closed its downtown Delray Beach space at 123 E. Atlantic Ave., after it lost an eviction lawsuit in March.

Subculture’s move to the south side of Atlantic Avenue is part of a long-term deal between the coffee company and Hudson Holdings, owner of property on the south side of Atlantic Avenue along Swinton Avenue.

The coffee shop will be in a temporary funky, green building along Atlantic Avenue until Hudson Holdings wins the city’s OK to do a restoration of six historic houses there.

If all goes to plan, Subculture then will move into one of those houses and take the entire space, as Subculture co-owner Rodney Mayo now has with his iconic Dada restaurant on North Swinton Avenue.

Mayo said Hudson Holdings’ Steven Michael called Mayo and pitched him the idea when he heard Subculture needed new space.

“It’s been my dream to have a coffee shop in an old historic house. This clinched the deal,” Mayo said.

The coffee company posted news of its temporary new Delray Beach location on its Facebook page Tuesday: “Say hello to our new home at the corner of Swinton & Atlantic. Construction is underway!”

Indeed, workers on Wednesday were sanding concrete floors and quickly readying the space for Subculture, which expects to be open by the end of May.

Mayo said the new location will be more akin to the main, West Palm Beach store, at 509 Clematis St. Subculture’s new spot will serve a range of food, including breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m. There also will be a separate annex for juices.

But coffee will not be roasted at 20 W. Atlantic Ave., as it was in the old Delray spot and as it is now in West Palm Beach.

On the plus side, the new location will have substantially more seating. That’s because at 2,200 square feet, it will be three times as large.

“Everyone is ecstatic because it will have more parking and more seats,” said Mayo, who noted that some patrons found it frustrating to have to “pay $10 to park for a $5 cup of coffee.”

Mayo also plans to host events there, including poetry readings and live music.

The location is temporary because Hudson Holdings plans to tear down 20 W. Atlantic Ave. and rebuilt into a 22,000-square foot, four-story building. The building will featuring retail on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, and then residential space on the third and fourth floors.

A breezeway to an interior courtyard and walkway leading to the six restored historic homes, including Subculture’s house, is part of the design.

Mayo said the house will have five parking spots just for to-go orders, plenty of nearby parking and also, outdoor seating.

All of this hinges on Hudson Holdings’ plan to restore and reuse the historic homes, plus plans to build a new hotel and condo-hotel units across from the Sundy House on South Swinton Avenue.

For more on this story, check back with mypalmbeachpost.com.

Here’s the reason why Subculture Coffee closed in Delray Beach

Subculture Coffee

Note: This post has been updated.

Subculture Coffee blamed “greedy landlords” on its Facebook page for the coffee shop’s closure Monday in downtown Delray Beach.

But it was a trial verdict and judgment that turned off the coffee drips at the popular java hangout, at 123 E. Atlantic Avenue Monday night.

On March 6, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Edward Garrison issued a final judgment against 123 East LLC, the entity that leased the space from property owner William R. Burke. Owners of Subculture, based in West Palm Beach, owned shares of 123 East LLC.

In a trial held earlier this month, Garrison ruled the coffee shop had violated its lease with Burke. The trial ended a two-year legal battle between Burke and 123 East LLC/Subculture.

The main source of contention: The sublease of the upstairs floor to real estate brokerage The Knight Group, without Mayo first obtaining written permission from Burke to do so. Subculture occupied the downstairs space.

According to court records, the lease limited the use of the entire premises to a restaurant. It also forbade the sublease of space without Burke’s prior written consent.

But Subculture co-owner Rodney Mayo leased the upstairs 1,000-square-foot space to Knight anyway, according to court records. The Knight Group also was named in the eviction action, first filed in October 2015.

The trial and judgment were not mentioned on Subculture’s Facebook page, which announced the store would be closing its doors Monday evening.

Instead, the Facebook post referenced “greedy landlords looking for any excuse to kick out existing tenants despite them paying rent on time.”

“It’s not about greed. It’s about trying to get your tenants to comply with the terms of the lease,” said Burke’s Boca Raton lawyer, Howard DuBosar. “They didn’t want to comply, and they paid the price.”

DuBosar added: “A judge would not enter an order of eviction unless the judge found there were material breaches of the lease, and in this case, that’s exactly what occurred.”

Garrison’s March 6 order gave Burke the right to take possession of his prime downtown Delray Beach space. It also ordered 123 East LLC to pay an accelerated rent of $366,708, plus attorneys fees and costs.

In an email, Mayo said the landlord won on a “technicality” based on an oral representation “versus a written.”

An oral agreement typically isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Nonetheless, Mayo, a sophisticated commercial real estate owner, investor and restaurant/nightclub operator, said he relied on a broker saying a sublease was OK.

And despite the lease language allowing for an upstairs restaurant, that was “virtually impossible” due to city rules, Mayo added. An upstairs restaurant would have required installation of an elevator and two stairways, which would have used up pretty much all of the first floor, Mayo said.

Mayo concluded Burke wanted the property back “most likely due to the increase in values and his ability to rent the property at a higher rent.”
Caught in the middle of all of this is the Knight Group’s Jim Knight, a prominent commercial real estate broker in Delray Beach.
Knight said he responded to a sign in the Subculture window about the available upstairs space. And he said he did what he could to make sure the deal was OK, including obtaining a letter from the city that the space could be used as a commercial real estate office.
Furthermore, Knight said he also relied on a broker’s oral OK about the deal.
“The Knight Group was assured by the listing broker that all parties, including the property owner, approved the sublease,” Knight said. “Knight Group was not aware there was an issue with the sub-lease until being notified after taking occupancy.”
The listing broker, Christian Prakas, declined to comment, as did his father, Tom Prakas. Both men are with Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton.
Knight Group now had taken moved back to its former offices, at 10 S.E. 1st Avenue, second floor, Knight said.
And despite Subculture’s closing, Mayo tried to remain upbeat about the store’s Monday closing.

“We went out with a bang and everything was free all day,” Mayo wrote. “The support from the community was overwhelming and very much appreciated.”

Mayo said he’s actively on the hunt for a new location, and already he’s found a couple of possibilities in the immediate area. But an appeal of Garrison’s decision is unlikely, due to the legal expenses involved, he added.

In any event, hope–  and coffee — spring eternal as spring nears.

Mayo said Subculture will be doing a “pop up” store Friday at Mizner Park in Boca Raton for St. Patrick’s Day.

Meanwhile, Subculture’s original location at 509 Clematis St. remains open.

 

 

Blue Moon Fish Co.: The deal that got away from Delray Beach

Broward County-based Blue Moon Fish Co. thought it had hooked a deal to take over the shuttered Hudson at Waterway East restaurant in Delray Beach. Hudson closed its doors April 10.

The waterfront patio of Hudson restaurant in Delray Beach on June 2, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The waterfront patio of Hudson restaurant in Delray Beach on June 2, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: Hudsons offered good food with great view

For Blue Moon, Hudson was ideal because it had the same setup: A waterfront restaurant on the Intracoastal, next to a bridge.

But at the last minute, Blue Moon owner Bryce Statham says the deal went south. And although he regrets that he and Hudson’s owners couldn’t come to terms, Statham sounded wistful about what could have been.

A raw bar. A broad range of fresh seafood.

And Blue Moon’s signature Lousiana-influenced cuisine that has made the eatery a destination restaurant in Lauderdale-by-the Sea for 20 years.

“I would have loved to have been there,” Statham said.

Blue Moon is at the northeast corner of the Intracoastal and Commercial Boulevard.

Waterfront restaurants are a rare commodity in Palm Beach County. Last month, River House in Palm Beach Gardens was sold to BrickTops,  a concept by the co-founder of Houston’s restaurant.

But even a great waterfront location doesn’t guarantee success.

And no matter how great business is  during the winter tourist season, “August comes no matter what,” Statham said.

Hudson, which opened in December 2014, was in business for less than two years.

A partnership that includes former professional hockey player Behn Wilson bought the Hudson property at 900 E. Atlantic Ave. for $2.6 million in July 2013, according to county property records.

The site previously was Old Calypso restaurant.

Together with owner/restaurateur Sam Bonasso, formerly of Outback restaurantsWilson and partners turned Hudson into a mix of concepts.

Hudson dubbed itself as a “speakeasy,” a gastropub-type lounge with high-top seating, a restaurant and outside bar. The limited menu featured a hodgepodge of seafood, meats and “comfort food,” such as mac ‘n cheese.

Statham saw the space and realized it would be the perfect spot to duplicate the success of his Broward location. He even was lining up a refrigerated food truck to service Delray.

But he was wary about the lease pricing, which he thought was too much for projected sales. Attempts to trim the price at the last minute resulted in the deal falling apart.

Statham, a self-described small operator, acknowledged he got nervous about committing to a higher number, especially because the deal happened very fast.

He also expressed a bit of regret with his hesitation: “Maybe it was a mistake….Who knows what will happen. It was a mixed opportunity on both ends.”

Now the property once again is being marketed for lease, or for sale.

The large restaurant property features 7,600 square feet of interior space, plus 1,200 of patio space. Dock parking for boats is available, too, said broker Tom Prakas of the Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton.

Prakas, who is marketing the site, said Monday he’s already received several promising inquiries, and he expects a deal could be done within the next couple of weeks. “We have multiple groups looking at it,” he said.

The property is listed for sale at $7.6 million. It also can be leased for $699,000, plus annual rent of $450,000 per year.