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The Ref

When word came my way that CJ's Draft House in Boynton Beach had changed hands, I figured it was time to pay an old haunt a new visit. CJ's new owner, Robert DeBlasio, bought the place four months ago and renamed it The Ref. The sign that changes have been for the better: Locals stuck around and gave their nod of approval to the new setup. DeBlasio came down from New York City after selling his two bars, 169 Bar and 24/7 Bar, so he could raise his 15-month-old daughter in a more kid-friendly city. His changes aren't drastic, but they're there. The food is a little better, drinks are still cheap, and the girls are now sporting cute referee uniforms complete with whistles. If I've learned anything through the years, it's to be careful giving bartenders noisemakers. When that 5 a.m. last call comes and the girls start blowing the whistles, the place clears out fast. Lori and Carlos host a laid-back karaoke night on Tuesdays and Saturdays where people are known for joining in and dancing with fake guitars while wearing feather boas.
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Jake Smith

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