They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that's the case, the city of Delray Beach certainly has something to blush about; many rundown and forgotten parts of town in Broward and Palm Beach counties are trying to copy the efforts of its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
Oakland Park's renovation is well underway with the very popular and very busy Funky Buddha Brewery and other spots moving into its newly constructed walkable downtown.
Now it's Pompano Beach's turn. the CRA is currently working on fixing up the east and northwest redevelopment districts, along the beach -- near the fishing pier -- and an area stretching from Atlantic Boulevard to Copans Road up to the Florida East Coast Rail Road, respectively.
To kick off the evolution, the CRA has lured in one of the first player's in the maturation of Delray's food scene, owner Butch Johnson and opening chef Wayne Alcaide of 32 East.
See also: Ten Best Restaurants in Delray Beach
Johnson, who also co-owns chill Delray Beach gastro pub Tryst with Scott Frielich and Rodney Mayo, is hoping to create a laid-back spot with interesting wines, craft beer, creative cocktails, and ingredient-driven fare to match. The idea is to feature around twelve appetizer and entree choices with a seasonal menu, number of daily specials, and house-made pastries.
"We're going to limit it to dishes we're really proud of, but diverse enough to tickle everyone's taste-buds," said Johnson. "Wayne [Alcaide] looks at food like he's cooking for his family, he likes to find the best ingredients and let them speak for themselves."
While Johnson and Alcaide are still hashing out major details, the actual name being one, they know how they want the place to feel.
"We want to be part of the restaurant scene; part of the bar scene," said. Johnson. "We want to serve food until 10 or 11 and close when the last guy falls off the stool."
The future space will house an open floor plan accentuating the kitchen and chef-side bar-top seating in the middle of the restaurant. A 2,400 square foot patio overlooking the park will include an outdoor bar. The idea is to utilize as many green products as possible to create a space filled with different textures and interesting materials.
Construction will begin in December with a projected opening date in the spring; Johnson is hoping for March.
Chris Brown, one of the individuals responsible for the overhaul of Delray Beach, reached out to Johnson personally to see if he was interested in opening a place in the new district -- the two worked together previously with the introduction of 32 East in Delray.
The four block swath of land on which the future restaurant will sit a park and a number of restaurants with artists lofts and studios across the street. To make it more accessible parking lots will be added. Eventually, Brown hopes to get a downtown farmer's market going. Just as in Delray Beach, all of these components have been carefully planned.
Both Johnson and Brown are eager to attract more restaurants into the area.
"We're not afraid of competition," Johnson laughed. "We're hoping its an alternative neighborhood. We're telling everyone we know; you've got to believe in the community."
The unnamed spot will be located at 44 NE First St. in Pompano Beach.
We will keep you updated on its progress as we hear more.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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