Restaurants and Nightlife in Delray Beach and Boca Raton

When it comes to restaurants and nightlife few cities can compare to Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

Delray Beach was recently named the “Most Fun Town” in America by the Travel Channel and Rand McNally as a result of its incredible restaurant scene and vibrant downtown night life.

Atlantic Avenue has to be experienced to be believed. Very few streets in America have block after block of amazing restaurants, shops, galleries and nightclubs that appeal to all ages. Safe, with ample parking, downtown Delray ends at the ocean and is considered one of the finest Main Streets in America.

Boca Raton is also home to scores of incredible restaurants and has its own vibrant nightlife along Palmetto Park Road and in its renowned Mizner Park.

Things We Loved in May

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

Things We Loved in May

 

It was great to see Boca Raton based Mela Artisans featured in Florida Trend Magazine in May. The company specializes in selling handmade goods made in India online and in stores such as Home Goods and TJ Maxx.

Keep an eye on this growing company.

 

FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science earned a $652,820 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Laboratory. That’s good news for FAU as the Lab is said to be a first of its kind grant for the National Science Foundation proof of the university’s growing reputation in cutting edge fields of research.

 

 

Over 64 of tomorrow’s stars converged on the Delray Beach Swim & Tennis Club May 4-6 for the United States Tennis Association Boys and Girls 18 and under championship.

 

The PIM Open features rising stars who come to Delray for three days of top notch competition.

 

The event provides a boost to the local economy just when we need it, putting heads in beds at hotels and exposing Delray to players, families, coaches, college scouts etc.

 

Tennis is an important industry in Delray and we should grow it,  not litigate it.

 

 

 

 

We wish The EJS Project a happy one year anniversary and congratulate them on a great mini- documentary that was released in May. Check out the organization here: https://www.ejsproject.org/

 

We were honored to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations Plastridge Insurance at the Delray Marriott. Please see our blog about Plastridge and the legacy of the Lynch family here. We were also thrilled to see Plastridge win the “Business of the Century Award” from the Boca Chamber at a gala luncheon at the Boca Resort.

Plastridge Chair Tom Lynch told the capacity crowd that the key to success is to balance business with family life and to find time to take care of your health along the way. Tom is a terrific role model.

Congrats to fellow honorees Sal Saldana GM of Town Center at Boca Raton named Business Leader of the Year & Roxana Scaffidi of Florida Accounting & Advisers who was named Small Business Leader of the Year.

 

We were thrilled to see Frances Bourque get an honorary degree from the University of Florida in May. Please see our tribute here http://yourdelrayboca.com/our-frances-a-most-distinguished-citizen/

 

 

Speaking of Plastridge, CEO Connor Lynch was honored by Sun-Sentinel with a Next Excalibur Award.

 

Lynch, 38,  was not only honored he is the first winner of the Next Excalibur Award, which recognizes the next generation of leaders whose voices will contribute to the growth and sustainability of business and civic life in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Connor was selected by a committee of previous Excalibur award winners. His father was an Excalibur winner in 2000.

How cool is that!

 

Restaurant fare

 

Crazy Mike’s has crazy good wings.

Timpano on Las Olas has awesome food.

Da Best on Dixie and Yamato is a great sandwich shop.

Okeechobee Steakhouse: a classic with a fun bar scene, great service and truly great food. A true gem.

We tried Duck Donuts in Boca and it was awfully good. Just delicious.

The penne with mushrooms at Sardinia—defies description.

Don’t miss the plum wine at Sushi Thai in Delray and we are loving the Bee Hive in Boca.

Also, if you visit iPic Delray check out the pizza. It’s delish.

Last but never least, Ziree never fails in the taste and service department. Highly recommend you visit.

 

Thanks Chuck

Kudos to our friend Chuck Halberg who does so much for the community.

Chuck, a longtime Arts Garage patron, donated the roughly $40,000 worth of improvements that will add a classroom, an improved box office, a bar and administrative offices.

Viva Las Vegas

I attended my first International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month.

In a word, it was overwhelming. More than 30,000 attendees, miles of booths and exhibits and some interesting seminars on the future of retail and shopping center design.

One takeaway: while we read about the “retail apocalypse” bricks and mortar still has some life left. Sure things are changing and we have to pay attention and adapt, but 91 percent of retail sales still take place in a physical store. We’ll revisit some of these subjects in upcoming blogs.

 

The 2019 Boca Raton Bowl will be televised on ABC on a Saturday afternoon instead of ESPN on a Tuesday night. The game will be played in FAU Stadium and the date is Dec. 21. Time is 3:30. Very cool. Mark your calendars.

 

Movies:

 

We caught Booksmart at Cinemark. Wonderful directorial debut from Olivia Wilde. The film has a chance to become a classic of the coming of age genre.

Finally, saw Vice on a cross country flight. Powerful. Christian Bale just may be the best actor of his generation.

We also caught a special showing of Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock N’ Roll at the new iPic. Wonderful documentary chronicling the rise, fall and rise again of a seaside city. We’ll have more in an upcoming blog. Highly recommend you go if you love cities, rock music and New Jersey.

 

Books:

 

I finished two books in May and recommend both. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg is a beautifully written book about the public realm and the best defense of public libraries I’ve ever seen.

Love the title. And the sentiment.

Investments in libraries, parks, community centers, art, culture etc.,  are essential keys to happiness and strong communities. It’s a good message for our troubled times.

 

Thanks to Kate Volman I read Matthew Kelly’s book on creating a winning and happy culture, the Culture Solution.

 

A must read for business, government, academics and non-profit leaders who care about creating winning cultures. And if you don’t care…well you aren’t really a leader.

Until next month. Thanks for reading.

Rewards For Those Who Study

Do you remember when bus tours used to come to Delray to see how we did things?”

That was the question I was asked recently by a friend who also happens to work for the city.
Yes, I do. And I also remember when we took trips to other cities to see how they did things and to share strategies around subjects such as neighborhood revitalization, economic development, historic preservation, public safety, arts, culture and creating a great downtown.
Daytona Beach, GreenCove Springs, Punta Gorda, Winnipeg, Cape Coral, Miami Shores and  a few towns in Alabama,
Massachussetts and South Carolina were among the cities that made the trip here to look at Old School Square, Atlantic Avenue, Pineapple Grove, the Police Department, Fire Department, CRA and City Hall.
Organizations came here too: The Florida Preservation Trust, chambers of commerce from near and far, the Congress for New Urbanism, Florida Planning and Zoning Association, Florida Redevelopment Association, LISC and the list goes on and on.
And we went places too: Transforming Local Government conferences, to Greenville, Neighborhood USA conferences etc.
Now some would say they were junkets. But they would  be wrong.
Those trips, which many times included community partners and residents, built relationships, knowledge and sparked ideas. They were essential to Delray’s redevelopment.
These days I still visit cities and see them through a different lens than before I got involved in local government.
We seek out downtowns, love to walk city streets and try to go off the beaten path where possible.
I find it interesting and inspiring.
I just love cities.
Recently, we wandered downtown Durham, Raleigh and Apex while visiting my daughter Sam in Cary, North Carolina.
I loved seeing the old buildings mixed with the new projects and the adaptive reuse of old tobacco structures.
The Triangle is a dynamic area. Chock full of employment, beautiful neighborhoods, parks, historic districts and teeming with breweries, food halls and cool hotels.
We were wowed.
I was struck by three things: the health of the shopping centers, the abundance of reasonably priced beautiful housing and the sheer amount of employment.
And I thought, this is a good place to study and explore.
A few years ago, a group of business leaders went to Durham to study the area and its business incubation efforts.
I heard a lot about the trip. It’s a good leadership practice to visit other places and to study organizations and businesses.
These trips spark ideas and inspiration.
Similarly, hosting visitors helps you focus on your own success. stories. Sharing those stories are valuable, life affirming and help to build civic pride. Listening to another community’s stories makes us feel—in a small way—a part of things.
I’m still sharing our stories with groups and I still marvel at the work that was done. It makes me appreciate my hometown. And that’s a good thing.

Complacency Is A Killer

I think we’re at risk of losing our edge as a nation.

And that worries me. It worries me a lot.

Every day I read and hear about the dysfunction in our nation’s capital.

The hyper-partisanship.

The inability to seize opportunities, solve problems or to get things done.

The endless bickering and sniping at each other.

Climate change is real, but there’s a large swath of people who just won’t accept the science. So we nibble around the edges, endure catastrophic and costly weather “events” and seem immune to bad news such as a new report that says up to 1 million species of animals and plants are in danger of mass extinction. That’s not a typo…one million species the biggest “event” since the dinosaurs went bye bye.

And the list goes on.

Time Magazine reports that Russia is palling around with the world’s despots exporting trouble and trying desperately to hack into every institution the West values.

China is using its money to buy influence by financing infrastructure projects in other countries while working feverishly to take the lead in key emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence and 5G wireless.

Meanwhile, our infrastructure is falling apart, we don’t have enough housing, our public schools struggle, we suffer from widespread opioid abuse and we can’t even pass a disaster relief bill to help people in the flood prone Midwest, wildfire scarred Northern California and hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. The beat goes on, but you get the picture.

Sure, every other nation on Earth has its fair share of maladies but this is more about our inability to respond and collaborate than it is about the issues themselves. Truth is, if you are able to respond, work through problems and find common ground, you can solve just about anything or at least make things better.

But I see our nation’s leaders more focused on sticking it to each other than buckling down and working to create a better world for future generations. By the way, that’s what leaders do, focus on leaving a better world. So if you are failing the present and letting down the future you are not leading.  You are laying an egg.

But this is a hyperlocal blog, focused on our community so how does this all relate?
Well, glad you asked.

Boca and Delray are two very successful communities—not trouble free, not perfect, not without challenges and real issues, but fairly successful nonetheless. But like America, if we rest on our laurels, we will be passed by. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday for sure.

The core question then is how to do we survive our success?
Atlantic Avenue is so popular that it’s literally bursting at the seams.

Now that’s a better problem to have than tumbleweeds on your Main Street, but it is an issue.

If I was still a policymaker (and thank goodness I’m retired) I would be worried about high rents on Atlantic fueled by sky high acquisition prices forcing establishments to sling high margin drinks to make ends meet. This leads to a Bourbon Street feel that some people like and others don’t care for.

Now I remain a fan of downtown Delray and take pride in our success, but I’d be concerned about those trends, competition from nearby cities and the need to spread the crowds to other parts of our downtown and make sure that the offerings appeal to a wider demographic.

I know far less about Boca, but I spend a lot of time in that city and I see traffic problems caused by sprawl and hear a lot of angst about the future.

The bottom line is that cities– and nations– no matter how successful can never rest.

Complacency is a killer.

A smug attitude will set you up to be knocked off your pedestal. You have to wake up a little scared every morning…especially when things are going well.

For so long, America led the world and we still do, but our future hegemony is not guaranteed. And the nitwits in D.C. and cable news pundits should be putting America before party loyalty…and that’s directed at both the left and the right.

Back here at home, we can’t assume that Delray will always be the reigning “hot spot” or that Boca will always be “all that” as they say.

Cities need constant renewal. They need vision. They need leadership and competent management and an active, engaged and dedicated citizenry.

No shortcuts.

And no exceptions.

 

 

 

 

Things We Loved in April

A Delray institution celebrates a landmark birthday.

Things we Loved in April

A Milagro Milestone & A Proper Affair
April was a big month for Delray’s Milagro Center.
The non-profit celebrated its “Gala of Light” at the Loft at Congress and also marked the opening of its new Middle School program at the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Milagro Junior Teen Center.
The opening means that the Milagro has three distinct centers serving the needs of our children from Kindergarten through high school.
The Kimmel’s have been a true blessing to Delray supporting many key nonprofits including the Delray Beach Public Library and Old School Square.

Speaking of great non profits, the Achievement Center for Children & Families is marking it’s 50th anniversary this year.
It’s Proper Affair fundraiser honored two of our favorite leaders: Karen Granger of 4 Kids and leadership consultant Suzanne Spencer who did stellar work with Delray’s Drug Task Force before departing to work with clients, our schools and the chamber’s leadership program.
Both are deserving honorees and fabulous leaders.

Recommended
We tried the Vino Wine Bar for the first time this month. This charming Boca Raton restaurant offers great Italian food in an intimate setting. Also a highlight: a wonderful and vast wine list and awesome food.

Mr. Plum Was A Local Legend
On a sad note, Delray lost a wonderful friend with the recent passing of Bill Plum at age 90.
It’s hard to overstate Bill’s contributions to the community.
Owner of Plum’s Pharmacy, founder and manager of the Delray Beach Club, President of Carney Bank, owner of Plum Realty, developer of the Plum Building and a prodigious fundraiser for Bethesda Hospital.
He also co-founded the Drug Abuse Foundation and was active in the Delray St. Patrick’s Day Parade and The Haven. And the list goes on.
He was a wonderful man. Who will be fondly remembered by all who were fortunate to cross his path.

A Theatrical Gem

We have become big fans of FAU’s Theatre Lab, a small intimate space where new plays come to life.
Under the direction of the talented Matt Stabile, local audiences get treated to cutting edge theater works.
We’ve  had a chance to see two plays by Jennifer Lane, an up and coming playwright who is bound for big things.
In April, we saw Lane’s  “Harlowe” an at times funny but mostly intense family drama.
It was a powerful performance and we highly recommend that you check out this wonderful venue if you enjoy thought provoking production. Another great treasure in our backyard.

Big Time
Nice to see State Attorney Dave Aronberg on Morning Joe.
Mr. Aronberg was opining on the college admissions scandal and particularly the questionable decisions by actress Lori Loughlin who at the time had not taken a deal by pleading guilty. (Disclosure: I went to high school with Ms. Loughlin).
Aronberg has gotten a lot of national press lately as a result of the situation involving Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Jupiter Day Spa.

Madison’s
Madison’s restaurant off of Glades Road is a terrific place. Love the bar, a great happy hour menu, amazing food and the wait staff is always great. Highly recommend.

Celebrating a Landmark
Delray’s Fifth Avenue Grill is celebrating its 30th anniversary in May.
That’s a lot of years in a tough business and a competitive landscape.
We recently dropped by for lunch and loved the new menu. Lots of great choices and always a bunch of specials. Now under new management with a new chef too.
(Disclosure: my company has an ownership stake).

The Mighty Max Delivers
The Max Weinberg’s Jukebox show at the Crest Theatre was in a word: amazing.
Two hours of unadulterated fun and great music from a rock and roll hall of famer and his terrific band.
Max, a proud Delray resident, talked up how much he loved playing the Crest and also gave some shout outs to local favorites Da Da and Doc’s.
If you have a chance to see the Jukebox don’t miss it. It’s a great night of music courtesy of an E Street legend.
Also kudos to promoter Rusty Young and his Music Works for bringing all sorts of great acts to the Crest—John Sebastian, Karla Bonoff, Stephen Bishop etc.

Healthy Options
We discovered the Bee Hive restaurant in Boca last month. Healthy food, reasonably priced and very generous portions. A welcome addition to the fast casual scene.

Motivation at La Cigale
We had a chance to have dinner at La Cigale with performance coach and best selling author Dr. Kevin Elko.
Dr. Elko has worked with 7 national college football champions and several NFL teams including the Cowboys, Eagles, Steelers and Packers. He’s about winning in business, sports and life by connecting, eliminating distractions and being present.
It’s a good message. Check out his website. https://www.drelko.com/

Pompano Rising
Sometimes we go a little afield to  try new things. So we traveled to Pompano to experience Mora Grill, a Lebanese restaurant.
It was outstanding. Lively (lots of belly dancing), really good food and just plain fun. Also very reasonably priced.
We then wandered down the recently improved beach promenade and ended up at the magnificent Beachhouse which is a really vibrant hot spot directly on the ocean. Keep an eye on Pompano.

Attracting VC attention
Congratulations to our friends at Bidtellect for ranking 13th on the South Florida Business Journal’s list of top 25 venture capital deals for the past four quarters ending March 31.
The Delray based paid content distribution platform raised $8.68 million.
Keep an eye on this company. It’s going to be big.
Boca’s Greenlane, a vape company, landed in  third place landing a whopping $48.2 million.
Christine’s is Magnificent
Kudos to Lynn University’s newest culinary gem: Christine’s.
Located on the second floor of the beautiful University Center, Christine’s offers great food with a beautiful view of the campus. A wonderful addition.

Devour
We visited Devour Brewery in Boynton Beach and sampled several excellent beers. My favorite: the Pineapple Hefe.
Definitely worth your time to visit and sample.

The Power of Vulnerability
If your not willing to build a vulnerable culture you can’t lead or innovate.
That’s was one of many messages/gems in the new Brene’ Brown Netflix special. “Call to Courage” is a great way to spend 75 minutes. So step away from the endless division on cable TV “news” and learn from a thought leader who teaches us about courage and vulnerability and how you can’t have one without the other.

Taking a Free Ride
Beatles on the Beach…Edgar Winter in Delray. How cool is that? Nuff said.

Long Awaited
We finally visited Louie Bossi in Boca. It was very good.
Wonderful food, excellent service and Nonna’s cheesecake is to die for.

Thanks & Happy Retirement

Congratulations and a heartfelt thanks to Phil Dorfman who retired after 30 years with the Delray Police Department.
I had a chance to ride with Phil several times over the years. We saw some things..Delray has come along way thanks in large part to the efforts of officers like Phil. We wish him well in his retirement.

Things We Loved In March

Legends train in Delray…former Delray Open Champ and Delray resident Kevin Anderson and Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova.

 

Things we loved in March
We schlepped all the way to the Miramar Cultural Center to catch a lecture by two-time White House photographer Pete Souza and he was worth the trip.
Mr. Souza served as President Reagan’s photographer and then did an 8 year stint in the Obama White House.
His photography is magnificent. Of course there are the iconic shots—the President and his national security team watching Seal Team Six take out Osama Bin Laden, a five year old African American boy touching the President’s head and marveling that his hair is the same etc. etc.
But it was the behind the scenes shots of family, staff and life as POTUS that truly captivated.
Souza has released a few books and has a large following on Instagram if you want to check out his work.
The Miramar Cultural Center is pretty special too.

In Praise of LF
Leadership Florida is an organization that is close to my heart.
I’m a graduate of Class XXIV and I’ve tried to stay involved by attending annual meetings and serving on a few committees. The organization is dedicated to training, convening and educating leaders in politics, academia, business and non-profits. I think the best legacy of the organization is that it helps instill a love of Florida into those who participate. We may love our cities, we may love our regions but Leadership Florida helps us appreciate the wonders of our state.
For decades, Wendy Walker was the organization’s leader and guiding light. She retired about two years ago and has remained in touch with the organization.
Last month, Diane and I and fellow LF grad Jon Levinson had a chance to meet Wendy and her family for lunch at the marvelous River House in Palm Beach Gardens.
It was a great afternoon of catching up, talking about the state of our state and learning where other graduates have landed.
If you value leadership, I urge you to check out the organization and apply for one it’s programs. It will change your life.

Discover the Theatre Lab

We attended a play at the FAU Theatre Lab for the first time in March.
“To Fall In Love” by Jennifer Lane (remember that name she’s a wonderful talent) was given a reading by Theatre Lab Artistic Director Matt Stabile and the talented local actress Niki Fridh.
The play was directed by Louis Tyrell, a name that should be familiar to local theater goers.
The experience was electric.
And we highly recommend that you visit this small little gem of a theater on the FAU campus.
In fact, the Lab will present another  Jennifer Lane play “Harlowe” through April 14. Call 561-297-6124 or visit https://nam03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=www.fauevents.com&data=02%7C01%7C%7C0e30c440221440d3afe308d6b2e205d8%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636893081156480236&sdata=m6rM1LHn3wc8rSXhEO0F5f6YmroVDN1%2BFB9mZwAHaDU%3D&reserved=0 for more information.
After the play, Tyrell and the two person cast answered questions about the performance. It was an intimate and engaging experience and we were amazed at how two talented actors with no props other than a music stand could turn a reading into a transformative and emotional experience.
The Theatre Lab is a gem.

Good Books
We have a few books to recommend this month.
“Blitzscaling” by Linked In founder Reid Hoffman is a good read and helpful if you want to build a company that will conquer the world or at least its market.
Really enjoyed “Return on Courage” by Ryan Berman which talks about the benefits of being courageous in business and in life. Dare to try, dare to be different and take some chances. Simple advice but oh so hard in entrenched organizations.  But those people and organizations that do find the courage reap outsized rewards and change the world.

Celsius + Creative Mornings
Close readers of this space know I’m a huge fan of Creative Mornings Palm Beach.
And knowing their caffeinated audience I thought our beverage company Celsius would be a good fit.
So I replaced my personal sponsorship of the group with a Celsius sponsorship and I’m pleased to report that Creative Mornings and Celsius have hit it off! So check out an upcoming Creative Morning and make sure you sample Celsius, a local company that’s doing some great things.

The Gazebo rocks & Senor Burrito is also great

Chicken Chablis, French bread and two good friends dining at the bar/counter at Boca’s sublime Kathy’s Gazebo. My friend had liver…he said it was good. I’ll have to take his word for it.

There are few things in life better than sitting at the bar at Senor Burrito with a margarita, chips and a plate of carne asada. Trust us on this. Seriously.

Welcome iPic Delray

The red carpet gala at the new iPic Delray was one of the best parties ever. Truly.
This project is another level. The art work, the design, the comfort of the pods, the finishes.
CEO Hamid Hashemi and his team deserve kudos for their  perseverance in the wake of toxic opposition. iPic’s  execution and vision is something to see.  The project is a wow.

New Digs for Stuart & Shelby

Congratulations to Chuck Halberg and the team at Stuart and Shelby on the grand opening celebration  of their new headquarters on 4th Avenue in Delray.
The office looks great and a big crowd turned out for a genuine good guy who does so much for the community.
We wish them many more years of continued success.

Days of Wine & Seafood

It was great to see the Delray Wine and Seafood Festival return to Old School Square.
Great seminars, awesome food and the “wine down” garden was brilliant.

 A terrific job by producers Festival Management Group. Nancy, Bern, John and Lindi are something special. If you missed it this year, make sure you mark your calendars for next year. And don’t miss the pairing seminars. We attended a Cabernet seminar featuring Napa Valley wines such as Frog’s Leap, Spring Valley and Rutherford. Paired with great food courtesy of Caffe Luna Rosa’s terrific chef Ernie DeBlasi . It was a memorable experience. P.S. Caffe Luna Rosa has magnificent crab cakes and lobster rolls.

Only in Delray

Sharp eyed tennis fans got a major treat in March when they stumbled on Delray’s Kevin Anderson training with legend Martina Navratilova at the Delray Tennis Center.
The former Delray Open champ hails from South Africa but fell in love with Delray after playing here. He soon bought a home and even adopted a rescue dog at the CRA Green Market. Pretty cool.
Martina was in town and the two had a chance hit a few balls and chat about the tennis life.

Speaking of tennis, Delray sensation Coco Gauff earned a wild card to play in the prestigious Miami Open. Quite a coup for the 15 year old junior champ as the Miami Open is considered one of the world’s top tournaments—a step below a Grand Slam. Coco won her first WTA tour match beating fellow wildcard Catherine McNally 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. On a related note, she was also featured in Forbes magazine in March.

A New Venu
We checked out West Boynton’s Venu last month, a live music venue, restaurant and bar in The Canyon Center.
The food was delicious, the happy hour menu was inexpensive and tasty and the acts range from tribute bands to national acts such as Los Lobos and the Marshall Tucker Band. Rascals legend Felix Cavaliere played there in March. Really interesting place. We were there the same night they had a sell out for a Queen tribute band.

Burgers and Wine and Cars

Highly recommend Zimburger, a burger and wine bar in the Town Center Mall.
The veggie burger is outstanding and so are the truffle fries, which may cancel out the veggie burger.

Imagine our surprise when we stumbled into an appearance by rock hall of famer and Cars frontman Ric Ocasek at the mall’s Wentworth Gallery.
It turns out Mr. Ocasek is also a fine artist and the gallery was featuring his paintings.
I’d say seeing his art work was “just what I needed” but that would be too obvious.

Making Deals and Bringing Jobs to Town
I had a chance to speak to the South Florida Office Brokers Association at their monthly meeting hosted at Delray Central,  a recently renovated office building owned by Grover Corlew, a local real estate firm.
For me, it was a chance to talk about the redevelopment of the Office Depot headquarters across the street and to meet the pro’s who bring the tenants to projects.
It was an impressive group.
I was also very impressed with the renovations done to the newly branded Delray Central office building which looks great.
It’s really good to see investment happening along the Congress Avenue corridor.

A Fond Farewell to a Great Chief

Congratulations to Police Chief Jeff Goldman on his retirement and his new gig in corporate security.
Chief Goldman and I go way way back. He was a young officer on Delray’s tactical team working street level drugs and crime when I was young reporter in Delray back in the 80s, when parts of Delray resembled an open air drug market.
I was able to observe the Police Department’s stellar work on frequent ride alongs at all hours of the night. I got to know Jeff and we’ve been friends ever since.
It was gratifying to see him rise through the ranks and make a difference along the way.
Being chief is a very hard job but Jeff kept his head about him through the opioid crisis, weird politics, spasms of violence in the community and changing players at City Hall, including a slew of city managers.
I will miss him and wish him well in his next chapter.

Inspired Choices
Congratulations to Amanda Perna and Jamael Stewart on been named the new hosts of Delray Morning Live. The duo will replace the show’s founders Ryan Boylston and Kate Volman who have become Wednesday morning staples on Facebook with their live stream featuring a host of local luminaries.
It isn’t easy to do a weekly live show but Ryan and Kate have done an amazing job.
I had a chance to catch up with Kate after a recent show at Capital One Cafe and she’s doing great things in the leadership field as a new CEO of a consulting company. We all know Ryan is super busy as a city commissioner and entrepreneur.
Amanda is a talented entrepreneur herself and Jamael is a rising star as our assistant director of community improvement.
Good to see the Chamber of Commerce involved as the show enters a new era. Tune in Wednesday’s on Facebook.

Making an Impact
Kudos to Lynn University’s new Social Impact Lab on it’s fabulous “Business for Good” conference. Top notch speakers on topics including venture philanthropy, impact investing and fair trade attracted a large crowd. Terrific launch for the new lab which is amazing. (See a future blog for more info).

Long Table, Great Night
Savor the Avenue did it again.
A great night eating at large tables spanning Atlantic Avenue highlights Delray’s terrific restaurants.
We sat with new residents and visitors from London who marveled at our town.
Kudos to Delray Magazine, the DDA and all of the participating restaurants. We were at The Office’s table and it was great.

What a month. See you in April.

Good Versus Bad Congestion

Miami traffic…..ugh

Around this time of year, with the sun shining in South Florida and the snow falling in the northeast we start to hear a familiar lament.

It goes something like this:
“Wow, it sure is crowded this year. The traffic is atrocious… 95 is a parking lot, the avenue is a zoo and you can’t get across Glades Road.”

All true.

Last week, it took me 90 minutes to go from Fort Lauderdale to Boca because I-95 was an absolute mess. Was I frustrated?

Heck yes. (I used stronger language at the time).

But when I stop and think about life in South Florida, my frustration lifts a bit and I get some perspective.

I’m lucky to live here. We all are.

We live in a desirable place.
A very desirable place.

People are flocking to Florida, some for the season, some for vacation and some to ditch the cold and income taxes of other states.

The front page of The Wall Street Journal recently noted the huge influx of people to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois—even governors of those states are lamenting the loss of residents which they blame on new tax laws that cap state and local tax deductions at $10,000 a year.

Regardless of the reasons, it’s a safe bet that for the foreseeable future (or until rising seas engulf us) Florida is going to remain a hot destination.

Which leads me to traffic and congestion.

We can make light of the issue by quoting the late, great Yogi Berra who once said: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

But with all due deference to Yogi it’s not that simple.

There is such a thing as good congestion.

Heresy you say…but hold on… let me explain.

Good congestion is a place where everybody wants to be.

A beautiful main street or a lively downtown are examples—and those places are typically full of people. You find good congestion in a great destination. Downtown Delray is a great destination and yes it is congested. Sometimes annoyingly so, but consider the alternative. It could be dead. It once was and it could be again if we don’t tend to its health.

Consequently, bad congestion is a place where you just want to get through—but you can’t get through fast enough because of the congestion. Bad congestion often occurs in miserable places to be—like an interstate or a major arterial road lined with strips malls and big box stores. We don’t need to list examples—they’re all around us.

So how do you tell the difference between good and bad congestion?
In a place with good congestion, you will see people outside of cars—walking, biking, sitting outside etc. You see people having fun. You see them talking and dining. You see life.

In a place with bad congestion, you don’t see people— you see cars. As I sat motionless on I-95 last week, I looked at the people in the cars. They were miserable like me. I saw a lot of sad faces.

When I inched my way to the off ramp and drove through more sprawl, I saw more cars. I didn’t see people.

So yes, it’s busy.

Yes, if you drive down Atlantic Avenue and miss the bridge you may be sitting in traffic for a bit but you do see people. You see diners, walkers, a few dogs and some smiles too.

Sure, sometimes we’d like to fly down Atlantic Avenue but just know that if you’re able to speed consistently on your Main Street, it’s probably because you’ve lost your vibrancy. I’d rather we have good congestion with people and successful businesses than a place where you can bowl on Main Street and not hit anything.

 

Things We Loved In February

Radu Albot rode a string of upsets to win the Delray Open.

Things We Loved in February

Joni 75 at iPic.

This special concert film captured a magical night marking Joni Mitchell’s 75th birthday.

Great performances by Graham Nash, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, Los Lobos, Seal and others.

Just amazing. And the iPic experience is sensational. Can’t wait for the Delray version to open in March.

As for Joni, her music is timeless.

 Killer App

Don’t miss the “sweet angels” appetizer at Papas Tapas one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.

 Great Young Minds

My team had a chance to work with a cohort of graduate students from the University of Miami as we contemplate options for the old Office Depot headquarters.

The students are studying design and real estate development under the tutelage of placemaking expert Chuck Bohl, a UM professor.

I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Bohl for years so it’s a thrill to work with him.

The students are bright and passionate. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

 In Praise of La Cigale

La Cigale never fails to impress.

Delicious food, wonderful service.

 In Praise of Independent Film

The Movies of Delray is an independent theater that shows some films you can’t find anywhere else.

We saw a gem called “Heading Home” the story of Team Israel which shocked the world with an impressive performance in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The film won the Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival’s top honor and is very special. A rowd pleaser from start to finish the documentary tells the story of  how a group of Jewish American ball players bonded with each other and discovered their roots.

A special treat: the director of the film and one of its stars Cody Decker of the Arizona Diamondbacks made a surprise appearance to answer questions and talk about the future of America’s pastime in Israel.

It was a cool experience.

 Off the Beaten Path

We like to venture off the beaten path especially during the busy season and as a result we’ve discovered some culinary gems.

Hacienda, a large Mexican restaurant on the southeast corner of Atlantic Avenue and Military Trail, is one of our finds.

We had a large family dinner there in February and enjoyed the food and attentive service. The San Gria wasn’t bad either.

We recommend you venture off the beaten path every now and again. There’s a lot to be discovered in our community— off the beaten path.

 Shout out to Lori Nolan

We noticed that the wonderful Lori Nolan celebrated 20 years with the Delray CRA on Valentine’s Day. How appropriate since we love Lori and her stellar work running the CRA Green Market all these years. Wishing her the best on the next 20! She’s been terrific and invaluable.

 A New Chief

Congratulations also to new Delray Police Chief Javaro Sims who was chosen for the post by City Manager Mark Lauzier.

It’s a tough job but after nearly 27 years of service we have confidence in Chief Sims.

 Meet the Beatles

What better place than Old School Square to spend Valentine’s Day?

And what better way to spend it than listening to a great Beatles tribute band with the love of your life.

We saw the Mersey Beatles at the Crest and they played Abbey Road start to finish to mark the 50th anniversary of that landmark LP. They also played a huge array of hits from early albums including my favorite Rubber Soul.

The Mersey Beatles are four lads from Liverpool and are widely considered at the top of the list of Beatles tribute bands.

As a special treat, we got to see John Lennon’s sister Julie Baird who was in Delray to raise awareness for Strawberry Fields, a non-profit in Liverpool that works with youth. It was a special Delray night.

We would have went to Dada after the show. After all, Yelp just named it the 100th most romantic restaurant in the United States but alas it was late and we are too old to be out late on a school night.

 History at the Delray Open

I like the Delray Open. Pro tennis is good for Delray. The event distinguishes us as a city. It’s worth the money and drives economic development.

It was great to see Radu Albot make history as the first person from Moldava to win a pro tennis tournament. A few years back, Kei Nishikori became the first man from Japan to win an ATP event.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Bryan Brothers captured their 117th title…a record for doubles.

 Last Resort

We saw The Last Resort at Living Room Theater.

It’s an affectionate look back at Miami Beach’s 1950s-1980 heyday through the lens of two talented photographers.

It’s also a must see. A great documentary.

 In Search of Manatee’s

Thanks my sister in law we discovered Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach in February.

It’s a beautiful facility where manatees and other fish gather to swim in waters warmer by FPL equipment.

Even though we didn’t see any manatees we did see tarpon and barracuda and enjoyed the exhibit space. A great place to hang.

 Happy anniversary

A hearty congratulations to our friends at Plastridge Insurance on their 100th birthday.

In today’s complex world, it is truly special to not only last but to grow and improve. Plastridge has done all three.

That takes leadership, vision, an ability to adapt and the courage to evolve.

In addition, the agency and its employees have served the community in a vast array of ways. For its 100th birthday, Plastridge donated $100,000 to local charities.

Tom, Connor and Brendan Lynch and the entire Plastridge team have much to be proud of and we have much to admire as we celebrate one of Delray’s historic businesses.

Here’s to the next 100 years. Congratulations!

 Due South

I belong to a truly terrific business group led by Bryan DeFrances and Matt Kutcher of JP Morgan Chase.

Really special group of people who get together each month.

Last month, the group took a guided tour of Due South, a great brewery in Boynton’s Brewery District.

Joe, our guide, was excellent— as was the beer. If you go, and we highly recommend that you do, try the Cat 5 and Caramel beers—incredible. Also don’t miss the gourmet food truck. It may be the best around.

Kudos to Boynton Beach for creating and supporting the district.

Here’s to March!

 

 

 

 

 

Love, Delray

Dear Delray,

 

This year, you will celebrate your 108th birthday.

What a milestone for you and citizens like me who love you so much.  So often people talk about you and focus on your challenges and problems—political division, crime, drugs, parking issues etc.

But, you can’t let the naysayers get you down – you’re still the precious gem that your founders saw all those years ago.

Sure, I know you have some blemishes after all this time, but I also know about your boundless potential.

I’ve always known about your boundless potential.

Last week, on Valentine’s Day, the National League of Cities sent out a series of love letters like the one above from mayors, city council members and others to their cities. I read beautiful notes to places like Portland, Maine, Lexington, Kentucky and Ames, Iowa and I thought they were heartfelt and wonderful.

None of the love letters glossed over problems—they mentioned crime, vacant buildings, heroin overdoses, homelessness and inequality but they also found so much to love about their hometowns.

Which is a good thing, because far too often, we are fussy and overly critical about where we live.

Recently, I ran into an urban planner who consults in cities all over the country. He made it a point to tell me how he thought Delray was “so hard on itself.” And I agreed.

At a recent, Urban Land Institute meeting, Delray was mentioned as a role model for other cities in South Florida. Not that cities want to be Delray, just that they admire who we are and where we’ve come from. It was good to hear this, but I have to be honest, my first thought was “well, they ought to talk to the people who live here because wow are they critical.”

But you know what?

I was wrong.

Most people who live here do love Delray, they just get drowned out sometimes by some of the…ahem… loud voices who tend to tilt a little toward the negative.

If you didn’t know better (and we do) and if your view of Delray was limited to social media here’s what you’d find. This is a sampling from a two minute cruise down the rabbit hole last week. Excuse the syntax…

“What happened to this beautiful Village By The Sea charm?! It’s a large metropolitan greed city!”

“Traffic is getting worse every day at some point I will not go to in town Delray !!”

“The only reason for me to go to downtown Delray is the Elks Lodge and the bank.”

It is so tempting to respond….but it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Right after my 2-minute dive into the negative— as if through some divine intervention –I got a notice through “Next Door” about a group called Love Delray.

Love Delray is a quarterly volunteer initiative that seeks to unite our community through collaboration and service. Here’s a link https://lovedelray.com/

The group meets and fans out to serve local non-profits such as the Delray Children’s Garden or CityHouse Delray. Sometimes they’ll just go and clean the beach. Isn’t that cool?

My strong hunch is that there are more lovers than complainers in Delray Beach.

As for the critics, the Elks Lodge is amazing but there’s some pretty good restaurants and shops too. Nobody likes traffic, but it beats the alternative which is a place that’s dead and buried and there’s plenty of charm if you would just open your eyes….how many cities have an Elvis impersonator, a professional tennis event and a really great Wine and Seafood Festival?

Answer: not many.

Last week, I took a left turn and within a few minutes I was sitting in the Crest Theatre listening to John Lennon’s sister introduce a truly amazing Beatles tribute band. People were dancing in the aisles…and the list goes on and on. Last night, I sat and watched the fourth best tennis player in the world and a rising American star play beautifully.

Sorry I couldn’t help myself. I answered the naysayers.

So Dear Delray, stay positive. You are a pretty cool little city. And we love you.

 

 

 

Things We Loved In January

Juan Martin Del Potro and his passionate fan base will be in Delray in two weeks.

Things we loved in January

We didn’t want to let last month go before giving you a recap…so here goes.

The World Beneath Your Feet at the Living Room Theater. The documentary tells the story of Matt Green who walked every street, park, cemetery and public space in all five New York boroughs. That’s over 8,000 miles! An amazing story and lots of lessons about how you truly discover a place once you walk it. For those who love NYC and those who enjoy a quirky story this a film for you.

A dive into Middle Eastern and Indian fare

We highly recommend La Vie Restaurant in Pompano Beach. Absolutely wonderful Lebanese restaurant. Great service, delicious food, unique atmosphere and yes some belly dancing. Worth the trip south.

We also discovered Saffron & Curry a terrific Indian restaurant on West Atlantic and Congress. Delicious rice, family run and wonderful bread.

Lunch at Abe and Louie’s, highly recommend the Abe and Louie salad. A classic and still a good place to people watch. While the dining room is where you’ll see all the movers and shakers, we prefer the bar which is cozy and oozing with atmosphere.

Polar Vortex?
The weather. What a month! Can you imagine how many people caught in the polar vortex are saying “I’m moving to Florida?”

Great playoff football. Interesting to see the emergence of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. He could be a generational talent. The Saints, featuring Delray’s Tre’ Quan Smith, we’re robbed. Awful.

And yes I know that in 44 out of 50 states it’s not cool to like Tom Brady, but you have to at least acknowledge his greatness. Six rings in nine trips. Amazing.

Mutts Gone Nuts at Old School Square. The traveling show features an array of rescue dogs performing amazing tricks and exhibiting astounding athleticism. If they come here again, don’t miss it.
Congratulations to Bill Branning of BSA Corporation on becoming the new chair of the Delray Chamber. And thanks to Rob Posillico for his year of service as chair.

Warming up for the Delray Open Down Under
Great to see Delray Open Champ Frances Tiafoe make a great run at the year’s first slam, the Australian Open. Tiafoe made his first slam quarterfinal with a big win on his 21st birthday. Of course, the reward was a match with Rafael Nadal. Tiafoe lost but he’s clearly a star on the rise.
Delray resident Kevin Anderson did very well in Australia too. The upcoming Delray Open boasts two top ten players and three top twenty players. Not too shabby. Time to drop the costly lawsuit to get rid of the tournament. The old mayor is gone, let’s move on.

We have become big fans of Sardinia restaurant in southeast Delray.
Terrific mozzarella made fresh on the premises, great service, a nice bar and good live music.
We met some old friends there recently and just had a blast. Don’t miss the tiramisu and the ravioli. Terrific.

A sad note: Delray lost a dear friend when Sean Nathan of Caffe Luna Rosa passed recently. Sean and I bonded over the NY Yankees. I will miss him as will the many patrons of Luna Rosa who came to love Sean over his many years of dedicated service. Rest In Peace my friend.

Those Great, Good Places

Found this shot of Ken and Hazel’s on Newspaper.com

I’m a member of my hometown page on Facebook.

It’s a combination of great photos, obituaries, current news and nostalgia.

It’s a great way to stay in touch and reminisce.

Recently, someone created a hugely popular post listing old businesses.

The post went viral and has attracted scores of responses as the list of “great old places” keeps growing; old pizza places that we loved, long shuttered department stores, delis, record stores (remember those?), grocers, movie theaters (when one screen was the rule and a triplex was a big deal), bowling alleys, florists and sub shops (or were they hero, grinder or sandwich shops?)I can’t remember.

The post was a great walk through the past. And it’s still going on.

Which got me thinking of some great old businesses that once inhabited this place.

Now admittedly, my history only dates to the summer of ‘87 but that’s 30 plus years— enough to have seen a few things come and go.
So here’s my list. Feel free to add.

Burger Chin, the Arcade Tap Room, Ken and Hazel’s, the Patio Delray, Costin’s Florist, Mercer Wenzel, AE George and Sons, Clay and Hy’s Boutique, Damianos, Splendid Blendeds, Bob Miller State Farm Insurance, Sefa, The Phoenix, Sopra, Delray TV, Pierce Tire, The Rod and Gun, Dirty Moe’s, Liberties, Louie Louie’s, Tryst, Sal’s Sporting Goods, The Trellis Shop, the Seagull Shop, Tom’s Ribs, Club Boca, Taco Viva, the Delray Mall, Webster’s, Jefferson’s, the Boca Mall, Mervyn’s, Pete’s, D Train, Locos Only, Elwood’s, Las Hadas, Pineapple Grill, Hoot, Toot & Whistle, Gillis & Sons and The Annex. Whew.
You get the drift…
Great places all..at least as I remember them.