El Camino in Delray Beach plans expansion

The group behind El Camino, Cut 432 and Park Tavern restaurants in Delray Beach plans to add two more downtown hot spots, as well as expand El Camino to other cities.

Brandon Belluscio, of the Modern Restaurant Group, said plans are to expand El Camino Mexican Soul Food & Tequila Bar to Fort Lauderdale or Miami, or both.

El Camino, at 15 NE Second Ave., is a popular watering hole and dining spot. It frequently is listed on travel websites as among the places to go when visiting Delray Beach.

Belluscio said El Camino’s atmosphere makes it a natural for expansion. “It’s fun, it’s vibrant, and it’s a cool space,” he said.

It’s also affordable, compared with other higher-priced eateries around.

In addition to scouting out new El Camino sites, which Belluscio hopes can be open by early 2017, new concepts are planned for Delray Beach, too.

Belluscio said plans are afoot to turn the space next to Cut 432 into a cocktail bar. The space at 428 E. Atlantic Ave. was a jewelry store, but Belluscio said the company is using it for office space now.

That soon will change as he and his partners finalize plans for a new libations destination. “We always wanted a real bar and we want it to be all about the cocktails,” Belluscio said.

Also planned: a new restaurant idea, also in Delray Beach.

Belluscio wouldn’t dish on the details just yet, but he said a partner recently purchased a building, and he and his partners are working on a new concept for it.

Modern Restaurant Group consists of Belluscio, chef Anthony Pizzo and Brian Albe, beverage guru.

Belluscio’s background is in restaurants. His father, Ron, operated Catch 22 restaurant in Boca Raton years ago.

Now Brandon and partners are making their mark on the local dining scene.

Cut 432 is a stylish steakhouse featuring an all-white interior and Miami vibe. It opened in 2008. Next to open was Park Tavern, billed as a classic American tavern but with some creative cuisine (spicy charred octopus and southern fried pickles, for example). The restaurant faces Worthing Park on Atlantic Avenue.

Then came El Camino in December 2013, which the group sought to brand as not-just-another-Mexican place. In fact, they hired Dominican-born artist Ruben Ubiera to airbrush murals of Frida Kahlo and Mexican Revolution hero Emiliano Zapata in a Day of the Dead theme.

Modern Restaurant Group’s success is the latest restaurant company to start small in Palm Beach County and then grow locally, and even nationally.

Big Time Restaurant Group, for instance, is a West Palm Beach company that features restaurants such as City Cellar at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, City Oyster in Delray Beach, and Rocco’s Tacos (with five locations in South Florida and one in New York).

Big Time’s newest creation, Louie Bossie, is an Italian restaurant going strong in Fort Lauderdale. A new location is slated to open by year-end in downtown Boca Raton, on the ground floor of a Hyatt Place hotel now under construction.

Other local eateries that have expanded include Lake Worth-based Duffy’s Sports Grill, now with 33 locations; and BurgerFi, a North Palm Beach-based burger joint that now features 86 locations nationwide.

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

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