Food News

Bova Prime Served as the Ponzi-era Headquarters

Bova Prime, that Las Olas staple of chic, appears to have closed its doors for good this week. But before it did, Bova hosted a gathering May 20 for members of Emerge Broward, the popular young professional's organization. The party was packed, but it was also symbolic of what went wrong with Bova.

The restaurant had promised a free drink to any Emerge Broward members who showed up. But about an hour into the event, Bova ran out of drink tickets. Many places would have simply apologized for the oversight. Instead, the bartenders, famous for often wearing corsets showing what appeared to be a yardstick of cleavage, simply handed out drinks for free.

At the time, it seemed like a classy move -- rather than piss off a packed house, people drank for free for a couple of hours. But perhaps the maneuver was simply a last gasp for a bar/restaurant that always seemed to spend money like a Ponzi schemer.

That attitude shouldn't come as a surprise considering Bova was once part of the Scott Rothstein empire. The Ponzi schemer owned a stake in the place and made it one of his frequent hangouts.

It's unclear whether Rothstein's presence, which often meant a prominent spot at the

bar from which he could send drinks around the room, helped or hurt

business. Police were called to the restaurant twice early on, once when

guns were drawn by Rothstein's bodyguards during an altercation.


had his hands in something of a dining empire before his collapse last

fall. His Bova Ristorante in Boca closed in October, and Casa Casuarina, the former

Versace mansion turned banquet hall, closed in November (it has since reopened

under the Barton G. umbrella).

The beginning of the

end for Bova Prime seemed to come about that time too. New Times

columnist Bob Norman reported on a scene back from early November that appeared to be something

of an early sendoff for the place:

At Scott

Rothstein's Las Olas eatery, Russ Klenet and George Platt were just seen

sitting at the bar together when Broward Mayor Stacy Ritter came in and

joined them (complete with a hug and kiss for the lobbyist). After they

chatted for a while, Klenet and Ritter got a table for lunch, leaving

Platt alone at the bar. But not for long: Austin Forman walked in and

joined Platt at the bar. Also lunching at the Rothstein establishment:

Ken Jenne, who worked for Rothstein, and defense attorney David

Bogenschutz (wonder if he's trolling for new clients?).


was like they were toasting to a happier time. No longer would Broward

County politicians benefit from Rothstein's money, and soon enough, no

longer would they have a chic joint to toast the excesses of the Ponzi


For more photos from Bova, click over to Norman's blog here.

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Eric Barton
Contact: Eric Barton