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 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.

 

The Rise of the “Urban Burb”

Options for sprawl repair

It’s 2019 and as dedicated trend seekers what do we see?

Well, here’s one prediction based on what we are reading and seeing.

Look for the rise of the “hipsturburbia” or “urban burb”—suburbia with a touch of the city meaning walkability, mixed use development and multi-family housing.

As the Urban Land Institute says: “The first phase is millennials moving to the suburbs for larger, more affordable homes and access to schools, so adequate single-family and multifamily housing will be necessary. Retail follows rooftops, so retail development to meet the new residents’ requirements will follow. Finally, you may begin to see more emphasis on employment centers as residents decide they want to work closer to where they live.”

Sounds good. It also sounds logical.

Pick your nickname but the trend of urban suburbs is playing out all around us.

Consider The Delray Marketplace (which would be so much better with housing), a slew of urban (lite) “lifestyle centers” in Broward County and future plans for places like the old IBM campus in Boca, the old Office Depot headquarters in Delray and the prospective rezoning of the Boynton Beach Mall. All are moving toward a walkable, mixed use environment in which people can live, work and play as they say.

Live, work and play has become a bit of cliché, but there’s a lot of wisdom and traction in the concept.

As the world becomes more technology dependent, there is a blending going on. If you are like me and many others, our work life doesn’t end when the whistle blows at 5 p.m. anymore. We are accessible before and after traditional office hours and business is conducted at all sorts of hours.

My colleagues at Celsius, the Boca-based beverage company, work all sorts of hours as they interact with partners and distributors in China, Sweden and other parts of the globe. As a result our lives tend to meld—we live, work, learn and play wherever we are these days so doesn’t it make sense to make these activities convenient, walkable and accessible.

While I was born in borough of New York City, I spent the majority of my childhood living on the North Shore of Long Island. Levittown—America’s prototypical suburb—was a short car ride away. In fact, we lived mostly– in Levitt Homes—in traditional suburban neighborhoods in which everything we did required a car.

It was an idyllic life in those days and traditional suburbia certainly has its attraction. But it’s also the definition of urban sprawl, not great for the environment, not the most efficient use of finite land and designed for cars not people. As a result, urban planners often frown on the traditional suburbs blaming it for congestion, sedentary lifestyles and even segregation.

As a result, some cities are responding with policies to promote more diversity, density, affordability and sustainability. Minneapolis recently banned single family zoning districts—a remarkable policy that will promote duplexes, triplexes and other forms of housing in once traditional suburban neighborhoods. It will be interesting to see how the policy plays out in the real world.

I’m a fan of New Urbanism which is really a throwback to how cities were traditionally designed before suburbia became so popular. New Urbanism promotes walkability, a mix of uses and supports density as long as it’s well designed.

So I cheer the advent of urban burbs or “hipsterburbias”—even if the brand names are borderline obnoxious. I do question how many “mini downtowns” markets can absorb especially with the headwinds facing retail these days.

While big box generic retail seems to be a goner these days (so long Sears, Kmart etc.) experiential retail is all the rage. But again….how many retailers will be talented enough to give us enduring experiences and how many location can they serve?

As we begin 2019, it will be interesting to see where this all headed. Two things we can count on: first, the innovators will find a way to succeed and second it is becoming far riskier to offer the same old, same old. The times are changing and the bar has been raised. That’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

Things We Loved In December

Things we Loved in December

Florida Trend magazine released its annual Golden Spoon Awards in December.
The Golden Spoon recognizes some of the best restaurants in the Sunshine State.
Locals winners: La Nouvelle Maison and TwentyTwenty Grille in Boca Raton and Salt 7 and The Grove in Delray Beach.
Congratulations!

Andrew Carroll mesmerized a large crowd at the Crest Theatre. The best selling author is collecting one million “war” letters written by those who saw combat in every American engagement from the Revolutionary War through Iraq and Afghanistan.
His readings were enlightening and emotional and told the stories of soldiers on the front lines of America’s conflicts. It was a powerful evening and we recommend Mr. Carroll’s books.
Kudos to the Delray Historical Society and Old School Square for teaming up on this unforgettable event.

Keep your eyes on Delray’s Coco Gauff.

The 14 year old phenom won the prestigious Orange Bowl Girls Title earlier this month playing in the 18 and under division. She’s a star in the making.

A visit to Mathews Brewing Company in Lake Worth was a highlight of the month. Very cool spot.

The craft brewing movement continues to thrive nationally and in our community. Craft beer consumption now commands almost 25 percent of beer consumption in the U.S.

Watching a screening of “Springsteen on Broadway” with friends was special for this Springsteen fanatic.

We were fortunate to see the show at the Walter Kerr Theatre but happy to report that the Netflix production was outstanding. Don’t miss it.

We caught the final show of Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and Marty Stuart’s tour marking the 50th anniversary of the landmark Byrds album “Sweethearts of the Rodeo.”
The show was amazing and we really like the Parker Playhouse venue. Stuart’s Superlatives Band is a can’t miss outfit. If they tour, run don’t walk to see them.

McGuinn is a frequent visitor to Delray’s Crest Theatre. Let’s hope he plays there again and soon. #legend.

Dinner on a rocking Atlantic Avenue at the superb Park Tavern. Highly recommend this lovely spot with the excellent craft beer menu.

Speaking of great spots,  I’m reminded of the enduring excellence of Boca’s Capital Grille. Yes it’s a chain, but it’s also superb.
We also had a Christmas Eve lunch at the terrific Christina’s where we got to hang with the restaurant’s adorable mascot: Vinny.
Spending the holidays with friends and family was the best part of a memorable month.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We’ll resume the blog in 2019. Thanks for reading and sharing thoughts and ideas. Your time is deeply appreciated.

The Pipeline Is Intriguing

Boynton Beach Town Square looking southwest.

So on Monday, I told you that I went to a Business Development Board breakfast in Palm Beach that focused on three landmark real estate projects: iPic, the redevelopment of the Old Office Depot site and a unique public private partnership in Boynton Beach called “Town Square”.

Sadly, I was too tired to actually write about it, but I’ve recovered enough from my whirlwind week to share a few thoughts on these projects which were warmly received by about 150 business leaders at the breakfast.

Let’s start with the iPic.

Now that the dust has settled on the development battle, it’s time to focus on what’s happening to the old Delray library site.

iPic will be moving its corporate headquarters into the project along with its conventional theater offerings. There’s roughly another 23,000 plus square feet of Class A office space left to rent.

Local firm Avison Young is spearheading the marketing drive and they are well positioned to bring solid corporate tenants to downtown Delray.

Downtown office space has been a longtime aspiration for Delray civic leaders.

Cities that are sustainable have to create places where people want to live, work, learn and play.

Delray has done a good job with downtown housing—although I worry about the lack of affordability caused by some very ill-conceived changes to our code. Having residents living downtown makes for a safer city (more eyes on the street) and helps to support downtown businesses.

We’ve done a good job on the ‘play’ aspects of downtown—with festivals and special events, some open space, activities like the CRA Green Market and some cultural amenities like Old School Square, the Arts Garage and the Arts Warehouse. It would be nice if we can finally do something at the Old School Square Park, which remains a major opportunity.

The learning component is a work in progress—some of our cultural amenities have education at its core but there’s room for more learning opportunities.

That leaves work….

Creating downtown office space isn’t easy. The office market is changing, the economics are difficult and parking and access are always a concern. But I’m excited about the office component of the iPic project as well as the offices being planned at Atlantic Crossing.

So I will be anxious to see what Avison Young turns up at the iPic site and wish them well. It’s a great location.

The Boynton Beach Town Square project is also exciting.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Mark Hefferin and his team at E2L Holdings and review the plans and vision for downtown Boynton Beach along Seacrest Boulevard. It’s very cool.

The City Hall, library and Police Department have been bulldozed and will make way for a 21st Century City Hall/library with incubator space, an event venue that can accommodate 6,500 people and a restored old school with a 500 seat theater and restaurant. Downtown commercial uses are also planned. It’s a 16 acre project with open spaces, a hotel and other uses that should really make a difference in eastern Boynton Beach.

It’s an ambitious project and it looks amazing. Boynton Beach is clearly going for it as they say. If they succeed, and I think they will, the project will be transformational for Boynton Beach’s brand and its future.

The city is making a big bet on the deal—to the tune of $118 million, plus private equity.

As for the redevelopment of the Old Depot site, I’ll have more later on this deal as it evolves. But the plans call for a mix of uses and some programming to catalyze the corridor.

The site has sat vacant for over a decade since Office Depot moved its corporate headquarters to Boca Raton. The goal now is to re-energize the site and the corridor with apartments, for sale townhomes, a revitalized Arbors office building and commercial uses.

Stay tuned, this is an exciting time in Southern Palm Beach County.

Things We Loved In November

Frances Bourque is a legend…and we love her.

Things we loved In November
Great to see children’s advocate and all around good guy Jack Levine featured as an “Icon” In November’s Florida Trend.
I got to know Jack thanks to our mutual involvement in Leadership Florida. He’s a frequent visitor to Boca and Delray and we’ve had some memorable dinners on the Avenue.
Jack is a prolific writer and shares his essays via email. He’s the founder of the 4Gen Institute which studies how our society now features four generations: children, parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
Being featured as an Icon is a fitting honor.

Also in Florida Trend, Delray’s own Felicia Hatcher who is featured in an article spotlighting women leaders.
Felicia is the founder of Code Fever, Black Tech Week and is a gifted entrepreneur.

The Boys

Dinner with my sister in law in Delray’s Country Manors. I love Country Manors. Something about it.
I also love my sister in law’s pasta and meatballs from The Boys.

Congratulations to George Elmore the 2018 American Free Enterprise Medalist. The nationally recognized medal is awarded by Palm Beach Atlantic University on American Free Enterprise Day which is Nov. 8.
Well done.

Happy birthday to a special friend

Happy birthday and thank you to Debbie Smith Stackhouse.
We enjoyed attending your party at the lovely Seagate Yacht Club but mostly we love having you in our lives.

The Kominsky Method and The Bodyguard on Netflix make us marvel at the quality of TV these days. BRAVÒ.

Don’t miss Bohemian Rhapsody and make sure to see it on the big screen.
The music is outstanding and the performances are amazing.
We saw it at Frank’s Theatre at the Delray Marketplace and the sound was excellent.

Delray is a tennis town

It was nice to see Delray’s Kevin Anderson playing in the year end ATP World Tour Finals consisting of the world’s best players.
A past Delray Open champ, Anderson held his own with the likes of Federer and Nadal reaching the semifinals. Very cool.
Speaking of the Delray Open connection long time tournament participants Jack Sock and Mike Bryan won the doubles event cementing their claim on being the top doubles duo in the world.

On a sad note, we mark the passing of Linda Lieberman.
Linda was a devoted volunteer and gave a lot to junior tennis in Delray.
I will always remember Linda for her work with the Delray Tennis Patrons and for always being there to greet fans at the Delray Open where she could be found every year selling programs.
She was a bright light who will be missed.

We were happy to welcome back Fran Marincola and Kim Thomas after their 78 day adventure traveling across the United States in an RV.
We missed you guys but loved the daily updates on social media.

Captain Fantastic

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was sensational.
Glad we saw the legend at BB&T before he retires from the road.
It’s also cool to see that our young friends (Lyle and Marisa) appreciate the music of the baby boomer generation. It makes us old folks feel good.

Congratulations Frances Bourque

Maybe the best news we received all month was when we got a letter from University of Florida President Kent Fuchs naming our very own Frances Bourque as a winner of the “Distinguished Achievement Award.”
The award is one of the most prestigious given by UF and honors people for exceptional leadership.
We can’t think of anyone more deserving. For those who don’t know, Frances founded Old School Square and is largely responsible for a whole lot of good in Delray.  A group of Frances’ biggest fans wrote letters of recommendation after prompting by Frances’ sister.
It was nice to see the effort pay off.
She will receive her award at a future commencement.
So cool!

See you next month! Thanks for reading and enjoy the holiday season.

October Musings & Memories

Happy Halloween!
October loves

Lunch at the Cuban Cafe with two leaders I admire: Pastor Bill Mitchell and Karen Granger of 4 Kids.
Pastor Mitchell produces the terrific Boca Lead series which in October featured the incredible work of Simon Sinek. If you want to be a better leader this is the community to explore.
Taking the dogs to Lake Ida Park in the evening when it is finally cool and there’s the hint of a breeze. The best part of the year is nearly here.
Fresh Kitchen and Bolay–both in Boca are terrific.
So good. Every time.
The recently remodeled Delray Elks Club looks great. Terrific job and some really nice people are members.
Bagels With and Bagels with a Schmear are also so darn good…oy the carbs…
Delray Beach author and poet Letit Flose is making some noise.
Her original poem, “It’s We,” has been selected to appear in A Garden Of Black Joy: Global Poetry From The Edges of Liberation & Living! 
 
They received poems from all over the world – from Cape Town South Africa to New Orleans to Berlin, Germany and rigorously selected 114 poems to be included in this year’s anthology.
Very impressive. Amazon has her two books of poetry. Highly recommend both.
Deepest condolences to the Walsh family on the loss of Tom Walsh, patriarch of the family that founded and runs Ocean Properties.
OPL has significant holdings in Delray including the Delray Marriott and Residence Inn.
The company has properties throughout North America.
Delray’s own Tre’ Quan Smith was on the receiving end of the historic pass from New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees that set the new record for career passing yards.
Brees has now passed for nearly 41 miles—astounding.
We’ve written about Tre’ Quan before. His involvement with Delray Students First, now College Bound, his attending Village Academy etc.
His NFL career is off to a stellar start.
Here’s what future Hall of Famer Brees had to say about his rookie teammate.
“Tre’ Quan stepped in and did a magnificent job. Credit to him for the way he has come along here in his rookie season. Really made a ton of progress each and every week, especially the last couple weeks this kid can really be a big part of our offense.”
That’s high praise from an NFL legend. Wow!
We lost two other local icons/contributors in October.
Detective Kenny Herndon passed away and it was gratifying to see an outpouring of love and support on social media from an array of retired Delray police officers. He was very special.
Bob Miller, a long time leader in the city’s business and sports community also passed in October.
Miller Field is named after Bob who did a lot for Atlantic High School sports and Little League baseball. He was a long time leader at the Chamber of Commerce and ran a very successful State Farm Insurance agency on Federal Highway for decades. Just a great guy.
Both Mr. Miller and Sgt. Herndon will be missed.
I wanted to share a tribute to Mr. Miller written by Bill Wood, our former chamber president and another amazing guy. Bill shared this on Facebook so I don’t think he will mind if I share these wonderful sentiments.
“Over the last several decades Delray Beach has been blessed with an amazing group of remarkable men and women who provided wisdom and guidance to the development of our city.
Sadly we just lost one of those remarkable leaders…
Bob Miller.  Bob passed away this October and even though we have not talked in years I already miss him and his stories of growing up in Delray Beach.
Hopefully there are biographies popping up on Facebook about Bob’s life  that will outline his many contributions to our city.
In simple words Bob was (among other things) a husband, father, teacher, coach, fisherman, businessman (over 40 years) and leader in the community… there is a reason for the name “Bob Miller Little League Park”.
The people who helped make Delray an outstanding community were not all Mayors or City Commissioners… most were residents, business folks, remarkable individuals who loved our city, believed in it and wanted to make it better…
The Chamber of Commerce recently held one of it’s Leadership Programs featuring several of our past Delray Beach Mayors.  Jeff Perlman (a former Mayor), in the most recent installment of ‘Your Delray Boca’ wrote about that and towards the end of his blog Jeff said this… “We need people with passion, a love for the town, humility, emotional intelligence, strength, foresight and courage to step up and lead.”
We do need people with those attributes but… we have been blessed by having former leaders, like Bob Miller, who had the passion, the love, humility, intelligence, strength, foresight, and courage to be a leader in our great community over a long period of time.
I am so grateful for remarkable men (and women) like Bob Miller who collectively made Delray Beach – as the Chamber saying goes – a great place to live, work, and play.”
Other highlights: an evening at the Elks (congratulations on their award from the Chamber).
We discovered Prosper Ice Cream on Congress Avenue. Magnificent.
And we also enjoyed some great pizza with a stagiano salad at Renzo’s. Highly recommended.
If you can don’t miss “The Old Man And The Gun” Robert Redford’s farewell to acting. He’s terrific, as he always is and so is Sissy Spacek. Two old pro’s who transcend the screen. It’s worth a visit to the theatre.

In Praise Of The Local Food Scene

Caffe Luna Rosa has thrived for decades by keeping pace with trends and sticking to the classics.

So I have this theory that I thought I would share.
My theory has to do with food—in particular restaurants—and my feeling is that we are experiencing a golden age of culinary talent.
We live in a community that seemingly has an endless array of truly unique and wonderful restaurants.
It wasn’t always this way.

When I moved to South Florida 31 years ago it was not uncommon for us to travel to Miami and Fort Lauderdale to find a good restaurant.
These days, Delray and Boca offers a dizzying array of special restaurants that not only serve great food but also take their design seriously. Dining has become an experience. And when done well it’s really something to behold.

I’m writing this a few days after finally experiencing The Grove, a highly touted restaurant in Delray’s Pineapple Grove neighborhood.
I’ve been hearing friends rave about The Grove for quite some time so I was curious to see if what they were saying was true.
It was.

The food was sensational, so was the service and the interior design.

The menu was small but offered some really inventive dishes that were spectacularly prepared.
My friends ordered pasta—that was perfectly cooked, short ribs that looked magnificent and I had crusted chicken that was so flavorful and unique that I find it hard to describe.
Even the bread was extraordinary.

The night before I had dinner with another friend at one of my favorite neighborhood spots—Papas Tapas where I never fail to have a great meal.

Brule, Caffe Luna Rosa, City Oyster, Tramonti—the list of Delray delights just goes on and on.

Boca  also  has so many wonderful spots: Domus, Abe and Louie’s, New York Prime etc.
In an age where chefs have become celebrities and dining out has become a cultural experience I’m surprised that Delray-Boca doesn’t have a bigger reputation as a foodie destination.
Sure, Atlantic Avenue and places like Mizner Park are popular attractions but I think we have the potential to be a national food destination.

So what’s holding us back?

We have many great restaurants and more than a few talented chefs, but there’s a few holes to fill and opportunities to seize.
First, we can use a little more diversity in our repertoire.
More ethnic offerings—like you’d see in a bigger city. And I’m not just talking niche food offerings, there’s a puzzling lack of great Chinese restaurants in our local market. Southern cuisine would be another great hit and seems to be somewhat lacking in our marketplace.

We can also use more culinary education to develop and nurture talent for the industry.
In addition, the industry can use some good old fashioned PR.
There’s no reason we can’t be known and branded as a great culinary destination like Charleston, Traverse City and Asheville which would drive more innovation, jobs and tourism.
We’ve come a long way since the 80s—it will be interesting to see what comes next for our local food industry.

Things We Loved in September

Paul Simon: Still crazy (and now retired from touring) after all these years.

September loves

Seeing Paul Simon’s farewell tour at the BB&T.

Artists like Paul Simon are rare…poets, musicians, whose words and music define our culture and leave an indelible mark. We felt privileged to be there. He played all the classics and some of the new gems too.

Happy hour at Senor Burrito and running into the wonderful Trish Jacobson.

Boca Lead’s new season with the amazing Pastor Mitchell. The topic: “Difficult Conversations” in front of a record crowd. Amazing program. Check it out. I’m beginning October by having lunch with the Pastor and another one of my favorites: Karen Granger.

Seeing the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary and Juliet, Naked at Cinemark Boca.

Meeting the wonderful team at 4 Kids a great job-profit that’s coming to Delray. They already serve our kids now they will have a physical presence at The Arbors in Delray.

Lunch and laughter at Papas Tapas  with Ingrid Kennemer and Scott Porten. Very few know the Delray commercial real estate market as well as Ingrid.

The start of a new NFL season at Duffy’s with my best bud Scott Savodnik and Jason Spaide.

Seeing all of the Delray ATP stars excel at the US open. Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro (finalist), Kei Nishikori, one Bryan Brother and Frances Tiafoe all had great opens.
But the highlight was Delray’s own Coco Gauff winning the girls doubles title with Catherine McNally.

Breakfast at Boca’s venerable Tom Sawyer with a long time friend Sharon Patterson.

Lunch with some Delray greats at Cabana El Rey…

Viewing the “sizzle” reel for a new TV show featuring my friend Eric Roby, former Channel 12 anchor. Stay tuned, I think Eric’s got a winner.

Eating lunch at the bar of Madison’s in Boca. Great all day happy hour menu check it out.

David Byrne at the Fillmore. Wonderful show. Unique artist. While in South Beach check out Cibo and if you can make it a weekend we recommend a stay at the Marriott Stanton.

Sardinia Ristorante is a gem. Fresh mozzarella, a great bar, attentive service and unique food. A great addition.

The Abe and Louie Salad—hard to beat.

Jessica Del Vecchio, Boca’s economic development director is a great asset for her city. It’s a pleasure to partner with her as part of the Boca Newspaper.

Have a wonderful October!

Greetings From Asbury Park

The boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J.

I’ve always wanted to go to Asbury Park.

So last week we made the trip.

We loved it.

As we toured Belmar, Ocean Grove, Asbury, Allenhurst, Freehold, Neptune and Colts Neck one thought was top of mind: New Jersey might have the world’s worst PR, because the reality far, far, far outstrips the perception.

New Jersey is breathtakingly beautiful (that’s right)  with a magnificent coast, incredible neighborhoods, vibrant cities and architecture that makes you pull over and stare.

Asbury Park has always held a place in my heart and  imagination thanks to its association with my musical heroes Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

I’ve read a few books about the boom and bust history of Asbury Park and the musicians who helped to put the place on the map.

So I was curious to explore the tiny (1.5 square miles) city.

Asbury has a pretty boardwalk, a beautiful beach, some amazing seaside bars, wonderful architecture, a hip hotel, a really nice downtown and some terrific restaurants.

But what sets it apart is its vibe.

Asbury Park is a town that seems to be built on rock n’ roll.

From rock photographer Danny Clinch’s “Transparent Gallery” and the Sound Booth lounge at the Asbury Hotel to the live music at Asbury Lanes and the renowned Wonder Bar—music is everywhere.

This weekend, Asbury expects 20,000 people for the first Sea. Hear. Now. music festival with big names like Social Distortion and Brandi Carlile coming to town to rock the shore.

Asbury is a town building on its roots—its glory days as evidenced by the Paramount Theatre and a grand boardwalk and a musical heritage which includes Springsteen, Southside Johnny and so many great bar bands.

Off the boardwalk, we found a nice downtown, especially Cookman Avenue which featured some interesting retail (a bookstore!, an adorable cinema and a tea house featuring cats—yes cats—called Catsbury Park) and some amazing restaurants. (If you visit, run don’t walk to Taka, it’s as good as it gets).

The surrounding towns feature block after block of really beautiful homes, Victorian gems that make you realize that Florida missed a golden opportunity by allowing so much cookie cutter housing to be built.

When visiting a place it’s important to consider its history and to see what’s in front of you. But it’s also important to understand its psychology, what drives a place. It’s critical to understand not only the reality but what the aspirations of a place are.

You can do this by observing who’s in town—what kinds of people do you see buying homes, opening businesses and investing in a place.

You can supplement what you see with a little reading—local newspapers, real estate publications, even what the hotels are saying about the town in their marketing materials.

And that’s where Asbury gets really interesting.

This little city with a rich history and a very cool present has aspirations.

Asbury is an ambitious place with a goal of becoming a nationally renowned cultural mecca built around music, art, festivals, great restaurants and a sense of place. Sound familiar?

The local press celebrates this ambition with profiles of entrepreneurs building web businesses, opening bakeries, planning music festivals, opening unique restaurants and creating boutique accommodations that pay homage to the area’s history and vibe.

One of the urban pioneers that seems to loom large is famed rock photographer Danny Clinch who has a very cool gallery attached to the ultra-hip Asbury Hotel. Clinch is arguably the most acclaimed music photographer around these days. He has chosen Asbury Park to not only show off his incredible portfolio but also to grow the city’s cultural brand.

The Sea. Hear. Now. festival is probably the most ambitious attempt so far. But the gallery itself is more than just a gallery. It’s a live music space where the local creative community can meet, grow and find encouragement and an outlet.

In many ways, I saw some parallels between Asbury Park and Delray Beach circa 1980s through early 2000s.

The emphasis on culture, food, beverage, festivals, tourism, entrepreneurship. The aspiration and hunger to fix and invest in neighborhoods and commercial districts. The willingness to take some risks. The presence of visionary pioneers with dreams and ambitions. The passion to make something happen.

I can’t comment on the politics of Asbury. But the truth is you need both the private sector and the public sector rowing in the same direction to make change and realize ambitions. It doesn’t work if volunteers, business owners and residents are out of step with local government or vice versa.

Towns need their Danny Clinch’s for sure. But they also need their elected officials and city government’s help too.