On Tuesday, April 14, CRA board members heard proposals from several parties interested in leasing two of the city's historic properties, the Oscar Magnuson home at 211 E. Ocean Ave., and the Ruth Jones cottage at 480 E. Ocean Ave.
Both properties have been a hard pitch for would-be business owners, who have been deterred by the area's largely undeveloped surroundings. In 2007, the CRA purchased Magnuson House — built in 1919 — which has stood vacant for several years. In 2012, the CRA worked to renovate the Ruth Jones cottage alongside South Florida chef and restaurateur Chrissy Benoit — founder of Lake Worth's Havana Hideout — who transformed the 800-square-foot home into the Little House. It closed in late 2014.
Last week, the CRA made a final decision after hearing proposed plans for the Ruth Jones cottage, which included selling or leasing the property to local real estate developer Bruce Kaplan, restaurateur Rodney Mayo, and Three Horns Brewing founder Coy Patricks.
The city accepted plans presented by Campanile, a Boynton Beach resident who offered cash for both properties and plans to open two restaurants.
Originally from Naples, Italy, Campanile has owned and operated several establishments in the past decade, including Delray Beach's Mastino and Zaza Pizzeria Napoletana, a restaurant he founded in Sugarloaf Key, Florida. Certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (or True Neapolitan Pizza Association), Campanile makes Neapolitan pizza according to rules and techniques set forth by the association.
For now, Campanile is referring to the Ruth Jones cottage space as "The Pizza Shack," a casual establishment that will serve Italian sandwiches, salads, and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza for lunch and dinner. During the day, patrons can order take-out or seat themselves on the covered outdoor patio. For dinner, sit-down service will offer an expanded menu of Italian soul food dishes.
At the Oscar Magnuson house, Campanile has plans to open a Mediterranean-style restaurant and Italian grill serving artisanal, whole, and ancient-grain pastas, wood-fired meats, pizza, and homemade gelato. Campanile said he envisions the space with a glass-enclosed, wrap-around patio for al fresco dining, with an open wood-fired grill and rotisserie as the restaurant's focal point.
The name is still up in the air, but Campanile is considering Zaza (also his Italian nickname) or La Piazza (the Italian word used to describe the town's center, or marketplace).
In a recent interview, Campanile said he was excited to be among the first to bring new life to the city's quaint commercial district, which will welcome additional businesses with the 2016 opening of a multi-use project at 500 Ocean Ave., a $4.4 million complex featuring 341 rental units, 13,300 square feet of retail space, and more than 6,000 square feet of office space.
"To me, Boynton Beach is a real seaside town, and this area has so much to offer," said Campanile.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.