Remembering The Oldies, Celebrating The New

A classic…

Last week, I found an old menu on Facebook from Tom’s Place, an iconic culinary mecca in Boca Raton.

And I mean mecca, because people made pilgrimages to Tom’s Place to worship at the altar of bbq ribs.

The Boca Historical Society shared the post and it got a big reaction on their page.
Aside from the really low prices ($1.50 chicken sandwiches!) it struck a chord of nostalgia in those of us lucky to have experienced Tom’s amazing food.

I remember taking my dad to Tom’s many years ago. It was at Tom’s that we witnessed someone going up to the take out window  and ordering brisket which was met with a quizzical look. We talked about that experience for years.
But I digress.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. We tend to remember the good stuff and disregard the rest. So we remember Tom’s  but tend to forget that we weren’t exactly awash in restaurants back in the 80s. Of course, there were some great places—the Arcade Tap Room, Boston’s on the Beach, Scarlett O’Haras, Ken and Hazel’s, Damiano’s, Pineapple Grille, Splendid Blendeds, LaVielle Maison, Arturo’s, Caffe Luna Rosa and there is more.
But…
As good as the old giants were and are (here’s looking at you CLR), it seems like we are living in a golden age of restaurants.
Everywhere you look, even in nondescript locations, there exists some great restaurants.

Innovative menus, knowledgeable servers, gifted chefs, interesting interior designs, exciting craft cocktails and beers, world class wine lists, unique concepts. We are living in a special era. And the arms race seems to be just beginning.

Food halls, green markets, secret suppers, farm to table concepts, craft breweries, food tours, food trucks it’s extraordinary. Even convenience stores are turning into foodie havens, with artisanal sandwiches, kale salads and specialty breads.

We are also living in a great age of creativity.
To combat e-commerce and to stand out in the crowd, retailers, theater owners, hoteliers and even office developers are stepping up their games. (Boutique hotels, co-working, pop-up concepts etc).
For retail it’s all about the experience.
Movie theaters have added food, plush seating, film clubs and cocktails—a far cry from sticky floors, popcorn loaded with transfats and jujubes (remember those odd fruit chews?). While the changes are rapid and ongoing (please save the raisinet) the outcomes are pretty cool. Some local examples are iPic and the Living Room Theater at FAU. Both have raised the bar on the movie going experience and both seem to be doing well in the era of streaming and binge watching Netflix.
Sometimes the changes and the speed of change seems overwhelming. So yes, I miss the good old days.
But isn’t today and tomorrow exciting?

 

In Praise Of Living Room Theaters

Not your typical movie experience

Not your typical movie experience

If you haven’t been to the Living Room Theaters in Boca Raton, you are in for a treat.

We took advantage of a rainy Sunday recently to catch a matinee showing of the charming little independent film “In A World” a fascinating look at the movie voice over industry.

Located on the campus of FAU, Living Room Theaters offers the discerning moviegoer a chance to see an array of eclectic films and documentaries in a cozy, intimate venue featuring comfy chairs, good food, chair service and reasonable prices (tickets are $8.50 and can be purchased online at http://fau.livingroomtheaters.com/).

The Living Room has a hip, urban vibe to it. Art from the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Guild adorn the walls and the theater is modern and smartly designed.

Let’s start with the café which offers lunch, dinner and late night menus. Fare ranges from paninis, salads and gourmet pizzas to wine, microbrews and signature coffees and tea. There are also a wide range of entrees if you bring a big appetite as well as delicious desserts including several flavors of gelato and a lava cake that is so good it just be might illegal in some states.

You can drink a variety of craft beer on tap, including three local brews: Monk in The Trunk (Jupiter), Native Lager (Fort Lauderdale), Cigar City, Maduro Brown (Tampa).  Prices are $4-$6.

The wine list is over 20 deep and includes red, white and sparkling selections by the glass or bottle.

Bottles range from $23-$44. Glasses of wine range from $6-$10. Selections include wine from California, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and France.

And oh yeah, they show movies too.

And this is where it gets interesting. While the local multiplex is showing “The Avengers Part 97”and “Scary Movie 42”, Living Room Theaters distinguishes itself with a wide variety of cinematic fare.

Independent films (read: more interesting) are Living Rooms unique selling proposition.

The company is passionate about growing the local film community and serving people who love serious movie making.

Living Room’s proprietary digitizing technology enables first-time directors and producers to distribute their independent films – without the prohibitively high costs of making and shipping traditional celluloid prints. As a result, Living Room is able to showcase acclaimed films and independent filmmakers, from local to international, as well as groundbreaking movies that otherwise might be screened only at festivals. They also premiere many films that have not yet had distribution in the U.S.

Launched in December 2006, in Portland, Oregon, Living Room is a smart concept that is sure to be a hit with audiences who demand just a little more from the movie going experience.

We urge you to check it out.