Seeding Entrepreneurs in Delray & Boca

Loic at work.

Loic at work.

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

And the business activity is not just tech related, its food, fashion and social entrepreneurship as well.

Sometimes, entrepreneurial activity comes from sources that you least expect: a chamber program for youth, a reality TV show and the Delray CRA’s Green Market in the Park are only some examples of places that have given rise to new local businesses.

About a year or so ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of 12-17 year old entrepreneurs participating in the Boca Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

I have stayed in touch with a few of the bright minds and met last week with Jake Artzi, the CEO of BoVault, which is a cool startup that provides solar powered “vaults” that allows people to store their valuables while they go to the beach, the pool, the gym or exercise in the park. BoVault  is a next generation locker that uses biometrics and the sun to provide airtight security. Jake, a high school senior, has all the traits of a great entrepreneur. He’s passionate about his work, is constantly studying and improving his model and is out there knocking on doors to make it happen. He has a dream. And he will not be denied.

BoVault would be a smart solution for people who want a secure environment for wallets, keys, cell phones and other valuables while visiting Delray’s municipal beach or any one of Boca’s incredible parks.

I’m hoping that a smart city manager or elected official will give this young business a chance.  Vaults are provided free to cities or hotels and can become a moneymaker because the model includes a revenue share for clients.

The local food scene is also teeming with entrepreneurs. Even this old blogger is in the game (shameless plug: Tabanero Hot Sauce and Bloody Mary mix, with more extensions on the way some other examples are  Celsius a Boca-based beverage company (full disclosure I’m a former COO of the company, a shareholder and still involved with the team), Amy’s Cookies (the wonderful Amy Robinson) and a soon to open French Bakery which first gained traction at Delray’s Green Market.

On Saturday morning at 9 a.m. fans of Loic Autret French Artisan Bakery can take an exclusive tour of the new business located 814 N.E. Sixth Ave. directly south of Plastridge Insurance. A grand opening is imminent. Tours will be offered until 1 p.m.

I recently took an impromptu tour of the bakery which is just wonderful.

Loic Autret became such a popular vendor at the market that lines form before it opens and often every baked good is sold out.

So Loic, sensing opportunity, decided to open a permanent location. I think he will be a smashing success. Kudos to property owner Connor Lynch for recognizing talent and helping to make it all work.

We often don’t think of the Delray Green Market as a business incubator, but it is. It gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their goods, test the market and if successful think about expansion. That’s really cool and very powerful.

So are the personal stories behind the businesses.

Loïc Autret’s first career was in the military. He was a Paratrooper in the French Army. As he tells it; one day, he met a beautiful American woman and fell deeply in love. As he was considering leaving the army to follow her to Florida, he thought: “What would a Frenchman who doesn’t speak English do in the United States? What do Frenchmen know best? Romance? Naturally! Fine Cuisine? Of Course! Baking? YES!”

So Loïc enrolled in “Ecole de Gregoire Ferrandi”, an exclusive French Baking and Pastry School in Paris to learn his new trade before moving to Florida and eventually marrying his dream girl.

In the last ten years, Loïc shared his new found passion for baking with South Floridians at the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, the Barton G restaurant in Miami and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Fort Lauderdale.

In 2013, Loïc started to make plans to open his own bakery one day. He has been honing his skills and perfecting his recipes while appearing at local green markets. And now his dream is coming true, with a built in fan base, courtesy of the Green Market.

Amanda Perna, also has a cool entrepreneurial story. Thanks to Karen Granger and the Delray Chamber I had a chance to meet Amanda at 50 Ocean recently for an event.

Amanda gained national fame on the hit show “Project Runway” and recently relocated her “House of Perna” fashion line from New York to Delray’s Artist’s Alley neighborhood. Take that Big Apple, Delray is cool too and we have better weather.

Amanda is a passionate entrepreneur who takes pride in her design skills and the fact that her clothing is sewn here in the United States, an important value for her.

Something very positive is happening. We are only at the beginning and the future is very bright.



Max’s Social House A Welcome Addition

Max's Social House expands Delray's smart culinary scene.

Max’s Social House expands Delray’s smart culinary scene.

Dennis Max is a visionary restauranteur.

He has the ability to see trends and envision design elements that make restaurants special places.

Max’s Grille in Mizner Park has been a long time favorite, luring patrons to Mizner Park since the center opened and Max’s Harvest in Pineapple Grove is a hot spot.

Last weekend, we had a chance to sample Max’s Social House, the latest addition to the Max Restaurant Group line-up.

Housed in the former Ceviche and Falcon House building on U.S. 1, Max’s Social House is a welcome and unique addition to the city’s burgeoning culinary scene.

Smartly designed and cleverly conceived, Max’s Social House is designed to be a place where locals and visitors mingle, share, talk and enjoy familiar food prepared in a unique way.

So yes, you’ll find staples such as Mac & Cheese, short ribs and potato chips, but they’ll be prepared in a way you might not be familiar with, but you’ll be delighted nonetheless.

We had a chance to visit on a “Friends and Family” night ahead of this week’s soft opening courtesy of manager John Brewer, a local who will be familiar to Delray diners from his long time involvement in local restaurants, including Ceviche.

John and his friendly staff are engaging, knowledgeable and attentive and add to the “social” atmosphere of the restaurant.

We ran into Mr. Max himself and per usual, he was gracious to share his vision for Max’s Social House with us while explaining his goal of creating a warm and local friendly atmosphere.

We had the braised short ribs, which were fabulous, the burrata, an outstanding “rocket” salad and warm potato chips with a unique dip that was simply to die for.

We also sampled from the restaurant’s strong wine menu which includes Numanthia, a fabulous red wine that hails from the Toro region of Spain. We enjoyed a hoppy IPA from the local Saltwater Brewery which was excellent.

Delray’s restaurant scene is taking on new and interesting shapes. With restrictive parking codes enacted on Atlantic Avenue, new restaurants on the main strip are unlikely but the city’s nooks and crannies are beginning to fill up with interesting spots. Max’s Social House is the latest to lead in this new direction, it’s a welcome one.

Food culture is here to stay and Delray is a leader of this trend, which creates jobs, lures visitors and builds community.

The next step would be to grow and nurture local food purveyors and brands–many are being incubated in the CRA’s fabulous Green Market.

Am I believer? You betcha..I’m a partner and CEO of a Boca based hot sauce company Tabanero, an all natural sauce that is available in 1,500 restaurants in Florida and California and 155 HEB markets in Texas. We also have a Bloody Mary Mix and our chefs are busy cooking line extensions. We are inspired by the culinary scene in Boca and Delray and so are many, many others.




Weekend Best Bet: Green Market Returns & Other Fun Stuff

Delray's GreenMarket is a local tradition

Delray’s GreenMarket is a local tradition

You know “season” is around the corner when the choices for your weekend expand exponentially.

Here’s our recommendations for the best bets this weekend:

The GreenMarket Returns

The Delray GreenMarket will begin its 18th season on Saturday, October 19th, returning to the Old School Square Park for the second year. The Market will take place every Saturday morning through May 10, 2014, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The Delray GreenMarket is a favorite weekend destination for many local residents and visitors, offering fresh produce, plants, baked goods, gourmet food items, and other unique fare from local vendors in an open-air setting. With free live entertainment each week, playground equipment, and a variety of special events, the Delray GreenMarket is a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

Thanks to a collaboration with the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, there will be more kids activities at the Market this season. The nonprofit will debut its “Budding Artists” booth, offering fun, meaningful crafts each weekend using natural and recycled materials. Crafts will be led by art teachers from the Center for the Arts, assisted by volunteers from Atlantic High School.   “We’ve always wanted to offer more quality kids activities at the Market,” said GreenMarket Manager Lori Nolan. “The Delray Beach Center for the Arts is the perfect partner, and we’re glad to have them on board this season.”

Many new vendors are also joining the market this season – offering products such as paella, Thai tacos, fresh baked fruit pies, pet products, and tropical fruit trees – while many familiar vendors return. With space for more than 60 vendors, the Delray GreenMarket will offer shoppers a wide variety of products.

The Old School Square Park is located on NE 2nd Avenue, a half block north of Atlantic Avenue. Free public parking is available immediately north of the park, in the Old School Square Parking Garage, at the southwest corner of NE 2nd Avenue and NE 1st Street. Valet service is available at the garage after 10:00 am, with a fee of $2/hour.

The Delray GreenMarket is a project of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

Elvis is in the Building (or park)

Scott Ringersen is the King

Scott Ringersen is the King

Start your weekend early with a dose of The King.

Scott Ringersen, one of the best Elvis impersonators you’ll ever likely to see, will perform a free concert Friday, Oct. 18 at  7 p.m. at the outdoor pavilion at the Delray Center for the Arts, 51 N. Swinton Ave.

Scott has been thrilling audiences with his electrifying tribute show “The Elvis Experience” for 10 years now. Known for his outstanding vocal range, energy and charisma, he has amassed an extensive and extremely loyal following. With his indisputable showmanship, stage presence and authentic costumes, Scott’s show completely captures the look, sound, moves, style and excitement of the greatest entertainer and pop icon of our time.

  Enjoy gourmet food trucks, and they are truly fabulous. A cash bar and limited chair rentals are available. Bring your lawn chairs and bring the family, but PLEASE no pets or outside food/beverage.

P.S. Little known fact: Scott Ringersen was once a Delray Beach Police Officer.
Tommy Can You See Me? (Yes, at the Crest Theatre)
While you’re visiting the Delray Center for the Arts you may want to check out a guest production of The Who’s classic “Tommy”, featuring the music and vision of Pete Townshend.
The show runs Oct. 17-27 at the Crest Theatre.
For tickets and information, please visit
Shows are Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $20, children 12 and under $10 and group rates are available.
The Legendary Duffy Jackson
Jazz legend to give master class this weekend

Jazz legend to give master class this weekend

This weekend only, jazz great Duffy Jackson will play Delray’s famed Arts Garage (
By his 18th birthday, drummer  Jackson was touring the country with Lena Horne.

At 20, he was performing in concert with Sammy Davis, Jr., and appearing on the popular weekly TV show, “Sammy & Company”.
 Since then,  Jackson’s powerful, swinging style has driven such big name bands as Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Lionel Hampton and Illinois Jacquet. He’s also performed with such Jazz legends as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich and Harry “Sweets” Edison to name a few.
This weekend, he will perform alongside vocalist Michelle Amato, best known for her work with Yanni and Cirque Du Soleil.
Performances are Friday at 8 p.m. a master class($10)  Saturday at 2 p.m. featuring a lesson on “how to swing” with a question and answer session and autographs and photos, followed by a Saturday evening performance at 8 p.m. and a Sunday evening performance at 7 p.m. For tickets please visit
Have a great weekend!