See where Duffy’s is opening its 35th restaurant

Jason Emmett, president of Duffy’s Sports Grill

Duffy’s Sports Grill, the homegrown restaurant chain expanding throughout the state, is opening its first new Palm Beach County location in six years: At a prime intersection west of Boca Raton.

By the end of the month, Duffy’s will take over the TGI Friday’s restaurant at the northwest corner of 441 and Glades Road, said Jason Emmett, Duffy’s president.

The eatery marks the Lake Worth chain’s 35th restaurant. It also ends a 10-year search for a west Boca Raton location, Emmett said.

Although Duffy’s already has a restaurant in central Boca Raton, on St. Andrews Boulevard, Emmett sees west Boca as a different market. It’s surrounded by housing communities, including country club communities, but it doesn’t have a lot of restaurants.

“It’s dense with lots of housing and lots of Duffy’s customers,” Emmett said.

Emmett likened the spot to the chain’s location west of Boynton Beach, at Jog Road and Boynton Beach Boulevard. That store is the company’s best performer, with customers ranging from older diners to families, he said.

TGI Friday’s is expected to close by around May 21. At that point, Duffy’s will commence with its signature interior renovations, including adding more than 100 televisions, plenty of memorabilia and lots of green paint.

Plans are to open the space as a Duffy’s by early September.

This restaurant marks the chain’s 14th Palm Beach County location. Over time, Emmett sees the county’s western housing growth as an opportunity for new Duffy’s restaurants. But not right away.

In the meantime, the chain continues to grow throughout the state, opening a Sarasota location on March 10. That date is the birthday of Jason’s father, Duffy’s patriarch Paul Emmett, who died two years ago in February from cancer. He was 62.

 

Three CityPlace tenants fend off evictions

Revolutions Bowling Bar & Grille at CityPlace recently brought aboard a new food operator, which is a good thing for the bowling alley’s financial future: Late last year, Revolutions quietly fended off not one but two eviction lawsuits filed against it by CityPlace, according to court records.

Revolutions isn’t alone. Two restaurants, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Miami Grill, also were sued for eviction by CityPlace, in West Palm Beach.

In November, CityPlace Retail sued Revolutions, alleging it was behind on the rent by $141,255 as of October 12, 2016. The Palm Beach County Court lawsuit was settled within days.

But the very next month, CityPlace sued Revolutions again, this time for $78,632.

That figure represents one month’s base rent of $56,250, plus taxes, plus an extraordinary $10,441 in back payments for chilled water for the HVAC system. Monthly chilled water costs are $8,739, according to documents in the case.

This lawsuit was settled, too.

Bruce Frank, Revolutions chief executive, said bowling lane business has been strong. But it’s the food that has struggled to make its mark in a center crowded with competing restaurants.

Late last year, Frank teamed up with Burger & Beer Joint of Boca Raton to offer burgers and other fare to bowlers and visitors. B&B also opened up an outdoor Flair Street bar at Revolutions, featuring bartenders tossing drinks in the air along the lines of that fine Tom Cruise film, “Cocktail.”

(The B&B venture has not been without controversy: A Burger & Beer Joint franchisee recently filed a demand for arbitration against the parent company, alleging its franchise was terminated as part of a scheme by B&B to team up with the bowling alley.)

Live music, plus the new food and drink additions, should boost Revolutions fortunes, said Frank, who leads Frank Entertainment Group, based in Jupiter.

“We continue to invest in the project and believe in it,” Frank said. “We are working with the landlord to create the best environment that is financially fair to both sides. We invested $7 million in the project. We have to get something.”

Also sued for eviction in 2016 were a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise location (allegedly late on the rent to the tune of $38,331) and a Miami Grill franchise (late for $103,294 in rent, the suit claimed.) Both matters were settled.

Dan Finlayson, the Palm Beach Gardens-based franchisee for Miami Grill and the former franchisee of Moe’s, attributed the lawsuits to “personal matters.” Finlayson said he’s settled his debts with CityPlace. In December, he sold Moe’s to another operator.

Since CityPlace’s inception in 2000, the housing, shopping and dining center has been a revolving door of stores and eateries. The 9/11 attacks, the recession, the lack of a convention center hotel, competition from restaurants on Clematis Street and now shifting retail habits by shoppers who prefer e-shopping to the real thing all have battered CityPlace.

Then in January, the center suffered another blow when Macy’s announced it was closing the CityPlace store, which was shuttered in March.

The Macy’s shutdown hurt the center and its tenants, Frank said: “When you close the only department store in the development, people think this whole place is going out of business.”

Sources say most of the tenants at CityPlace are on percentage rent, which means they pay rent based upon a percentage of gross sales. CityPlace’s owners, which include developer The Related Cos., are trying to work out a troubled $150 million construction loan on the project. The loan slipped into default last July and now is in special servicing.

Finlayson has some insight into how CityPlace and its tenants are faring.

“I know CityPlace is having some issues attracting customers, but I think it’s more with the larger restaurants in CityPlace. Moe’s and Miami Grill are two of the smaller stores in the plaza and things are good,” he said.

A Related Cos. official declined to comment on the litigation.