With elegant mahogany wainscoting, white-cloth-covered tables, palm-tree-upholstered booths and lounge chairs, polished brass fixtures, and smooth jazz penetrating the smoke-filled air, the interior of Fort Lauderdale's iconic Jackson Steakhouse was the classic steak house of yesteryear.
From 1997 to 2009, the restaurant at 450 Las Olas Blvd. was the premier meeting place for Fort Lauderdale power players; operating as a "private club" for lunch, it was a place where executives could impress clients with $75 lobsters, $1,000 bottles of vino, and private lockers stashed with fine wine and cigars.
The concept was born out of the '90s economic boom and its accompanying desire for excess and exclusivity, and it crashed with the Great Recession's need to scale back.
For years, the legendary space sat empty, a reminder of the glory years of an exponentially growing but unsustainable South Florida economy, and the destruction that was left in its wake when it all came crashing down.
In the half-decade since the start of the Great Recession, South Florida's economy has been slowly coming back.
Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, owners of high-end steak and seafood house Chops Lobster Bar and oceanic-inspired City Fish Market in Boca Raton, announced plans in 2012 to open Lobster Bar Sea Grille in the renowned Las Olas Boulevard space.
In August 2013, the seafood spot was serving customers in a space that reflects the times.
The dark walls were replaced with glossy white subway tiles; the luxe-gone-Golden Girls tropical prints were swapped for crisp and contemporary white leather, the outdated polished brass exchanged for minimalist glass and vintage-inspired lead-crystal lighting, and the formerly ubiquitous dark wood is now just an accent in the bright modern interior. With arched tile ceilings in the dining room, the space feels like a mix between classic oyster house and Parisienne subway station -- trendy and vintage at the same time.