January 7, 2013 | 11:35am
This week, the City of Pompano Beach will be celebrating the grand opening of a new restaurant, one of the first establishments to claim a spot in the newly redeveloped oceanfront strip off East Atlantic Blvd.
Over the past year the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) -- through a joint effort with the city's Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council -- has been focusing on incentive programs to attract new businesses to the area.
One of several improvement projects currently underway is the East Atlantic Blvd. area, which has been redesigned as a focal-point to the city's beach area. By updating aging buildings like the one found here -- a once vibrant waterfront strip just a few strides from the beach -- the city hopes to not only draw more crowds, but also new businesses.
The small strip has undergone several changes in the past few months, including a much-needed facelift that has made way for wider sidewalks, new lighting and on-street parking that allows for easier pedestrian access to the local businesses. It's also made room for an on-street café atmosphere, which new restaurant -- The Beach Grille -- has taken full advantage of with plenty of outdoor seating.
Located a few spaces down from Briny Pub, and sandwiched between a sushi restaurant and ice cream shop, The Beach Grille is one of the area's first new businesses to come to Pompano since redevelopment efforts began last year. To celebrate, the CRA is hosting a two-hour grand opening party and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, January 11 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will feature free food and drink, as well as a beachside concert after the event.
The Beach Grille, just 100 yards from Pompano's main beach, is a New Jersey couple's take on beach-easy eatery serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Owners Teresa and Tom Carrabba told Clean Plate Charlie they were eager to participate in the CRA's redevelopment efforts, and believe the area has a lot of potential. They also hope to be among the first new businesses to take part in making the beach area more of a tourist destination.
"My wife and I have been coming [to this area of South Florida] for over 30 years, and we love it, but more and more this area was really looking bad," said Tom Carrabba. "When we heard what the CRA was doing, we decided to go for it."
Like many of the nearby shops in the Beach Mart Shopping Plaza -- including Briny Irish Pub
, 9 Face Sushi Cafe and Frank's Ristorante
-- the space is small, but cozy. After eight months of renovations that included an exterior and interior facelift, Teresa Carraba said her goal was to create a warm, clean and inviting dining area, but with a taste of New York. Exposed brick walls have been decorated with several of her husband's framed music awards featuring pop icons Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna. Tom, who is recently retired, spent more than 30 years as Executive Vice President for Jive Records in Manhattan before making the move to South Florida where he dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
As the name suggests, the stop-and-go eatery offers up the type of fare you'd expect to snack on during a day at the beach, served on plastic plates so it's easy to carry out. Wanting to bring a taste of home with them to Pompano, the Carrabbas have given the menu a decided Jersey Shore-theme with menu items like their funnel cake fries ($3.25), New York-style Sabrett hot dogs ($3.50) and authentic Philly cheese steaks made with thin-sliced ribeye, it's served on an Italian sub roll with Cheese Whiz and fried onions ($8.95).
"The sort of food you would find on the boardwalk by the beach," said Carrabba.
Since opening in early December, the couple says they've welcomed an eager breakfast crowd, where they serve platters of their signature croissant French toast, the familiar diner pick made with croissants in place of bread ($5.95). There's also bagels, eggs, omelets, pancakes -- nothing over $10. For lunch and dinner the Grille has a short list that includes burgers, chicken tenders and grilled cheese. Look for a board on the back wall with daily specials to switch it up.
For more information visit The Beach Grille website and Facebook page, or call 954-946-6000. To learn more about Pompano's redevelopment efforts, visit the CRA website here.