Fresh fish instead of tossed napkins will be the headliner for the CityPlace spot formerly occupied by Taverna Opa Greek restaurant.
Decks Fish Market is taking over the space. It’s a nautically-themed new concept by some of the partners behind the PampasGrille, a Brazilian steak house at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. (Other Pampas Grille locations include the headquarters restaurant in Las Vegas, plus a restaurant in Palo Alto, Calif.)
The casual seafood eatery will take the 5,795-square foot, second-floor space above Panera Bread. This was the longtime home for Taverna Opa, famous for patrons dancing on tables and throwing napkins. Taverna Opa recently closed.
“We think Decks Fish Market will fit right in with the current tenant mix and fill a seafood niche on the property,” said R. Webber Hudson, executive vice president of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Companies responsible for leasing and managing CityPlace.
CityPlace has a range of restaurants including pizza eateries, Thai food, Italian food and other cuisine.
Decks is slated to open in the fall, when lunch and dinner guests can expect to feel as if they are dining on a boat, complete with wooden planks and a color palette inspired by the sea. The menu will feature New England-style seafood but with South Florida ingredients, too. There will be a raw bar, plus fresh fish entrees.
Also look for New England clam chowder, a “lobster popcorn” appetizer, surf and turf and other offerings, including non-seafood meals. A kids menu is planned.
The West Palm Beach dining and entertainment center has seen its fare share of restaurant rotations, especially when it comes to seafood. First there was Legal Seafoods, then McCormick and Schmick’s (where Pampas Grille now is located.) Perhaps this latest concept will lure customers and keep them hooked.
Meanwhile, burger joint BurgerFi plans to open a CityPlace location in the fall, in first floor space next to the now-shuttered Barnes & Noble bookstore. This BurgerFi location is a company-owned store, according to restaurant broker Tom Prakas, who did not handle this deal.
But for nine months in 2011, Prakas labored to bring a BurgerFi franchisee to CityPlace, in a different location at the center. Unfortunately, deal-making at the shopping and dining center came to a halt when a lender filed a foreclosure action against CityPlace that year. (The lawsuit was resolved when CityPlace negotiated a modification and extension on the loan.)
BurgerFi has another Palm Beach County location, along the ocean in Delray Beach. There also are more than two dozen locations nationwide, with more on the way. The restaurant features grass-fed Angus beef for its burgers.
In other restaurant news, Prakas just wrapped up a deal to bring Max’s Restaurant Group to PGA Commons shopping center, on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens. The restaurant will take the space formerly occupied by John Spoto’s Water Bar & Grill.
This is not the Max group of restaurateur Dennis Max and Max’s Grille fame locally.
This organization, based in Hartford, has eight restaurants in Connecticut and Massachusetts. But President Richard Rosenthal has a home in Palm Beach Gardens and was intrigued by the notion of opening a restaurant near his winter retreat.
One thing led to another, and suddenly Rosenthal found himself planning to open a farm-to-table retaurant called The Cooper in December. (The name is derived from a “cooper,” someone who makes barrels.)
Rosenthal said the restaurant, whose menu still is being finalized, will feature steaks, seafood, burgers and artisan drinks. The food will be chef-driven and creative, but not so pricey that it becomes a special-events restaurant, he said.
Anywhere but West Palm Beach?
It seems as if sought-after Trader Joe’s is setting up stores in every major locale in Palm Beach County —- except the one that created a marketing campaign to lure the grocer to its fair city.
West Palm Beach is looking like the neglected stepchild for now, as the quirky popular grocer reveals stores will open in Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton and now, Delray Beach.
This, after the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority last year put together a cute, if corny, video campaign: “What Would You Trade for Trader Joe’s?” The video featured politicos and others offering their trade for a Trader Joe’s store within city limits. (Example: Mayor Jeri Muoio said she would trade the city commissioners.)
But Raphael Clemente, DDA executive director, isn’t feeling down about all the openings around the county.
Last week, he said he knew Trader Joe’s had other locations on their target list ahead of West Palm Beach.
“All the information and messaging I’ve received from them since our fun, grassroots campaign until now indicates that we are in their long-range plan. That’s always been their message to us….and I think we will see them in this area in the future.”
He compared Trader Joe’s expansion plan to Whole Foods Market, which expanded all around the county in Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and now has come to the Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach.
It’s a perfect example of how an entity like this expands, Clemente said, starting from areas “where the target demographic is most densely populated first” and then spreads from there.
A Trader Joe’s spokeswoman has said the Monrovia, Calif.-based company doesn’t respond to plaintive campaigns by cities. Instead, the company picks locations with market conditions that suit its criteria.
Staff writer Emily Roach contributed to this column.Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.