Tropical Acres Steakhouse has been a landmark South Florida restaurant since opening in 1949, long before condo towers lined the coast and the nearby highway connected the region.
Nearly four generations of the Studiale family have run the restaurant as a second home for both longtime customers and employees. Although it remains a formal establishment - aging men wear slacks and jackets and kids are told to mind their manners - Tropical Acres offers value beyond that of chain steakhouses with both generous meals, all of which include salads and some with sides, as well as service that strives to make the experience special.
Perhaps it's the challenges the restaurant has faced over six decades that make it so damn determined to be better than the competition. In 1964, three-quarters of the restaurant burned to the ground. In the summer of 2011 a fire started in the laundry area in the middle of the night and spread to the kitchen, forcing the restaurant to close for six month and $1.8 million of repairs.
Though owners are still dealing with some of the insurance fallout, Manager Michael Greenlaw told us, it seems they used the disaster to make improvements ranging from upgrading the kitchen to new, deep red quilted banquettes that give the dining room a more welcoming, less grandmother's dining room, feel.
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