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Delray Beach to get sizzling Louie Bossi’s Italian restaurant

The group behind Rocco’s Tacos eatery is bringing its successful new Fort Lauderdale restaurant, Louie Bossi, to sizzling downtown Delray Beach.

The Italian restaurant from West Palm Beach’s Big Time Restaurant Group, is going into 44 E. Atlantic Ave., the former Masonic Temple building at Atlantic Avenue and SE First Avenue in downtown Delray.

Louie Bossi will be a two-story, 10,400-square-foot restaurant.

Work now is afoot to design the building’s space, which promises to be a comfortable, warm interior that will feel “as if it’s been in the neighborhood for 70 years,” said Big Time partner Todd Herbst.

Architectural touches from the 1920s are planned. Attorney Michael Weiner, who owns the historic 1924 property, has the building’s original designs, Herbst said.

Herbst said Big Time has been thrilled, and a little surprised, by the success of Louie Bossi on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant opened just last year, but it has exceeded expectations and is up 25 percent over last year, he said.

Herbst would not disclose further financial details of the privately held company, but he said a recent Fort Lauderdale boat show led to dinner waits of an hour and a half.

Louie Bossi is popular because the food is fresh and the wood-and-brick interior is inviting, Herbst said. Everything is made in-house, too, including the breads, numerous types of pasta and desserts.

Earlier this year, Big Time decided to open a Boca Raton location, the concept’s second restaurant.

Louie Bossi in Boca is slated to open in January, attached to the new Hyatt Place hotel opening next month. The Hyatt is in the heart of downtown on the southeast corner of Federal Highway and Palmetto Park Road.

In addition to an 8,000-square-foot restaurant inside and a 2,000-square-foot bar outside, the restaurant also will feature a bocce ball court and fireplace.

Jeff Sussman, the restaurant broker who handled the deals for Delray Beach and Boca Raton, said he believes Louie Bossi is successful because it appeals to all the senses, from the food to the decor to the “eater-tainment” quality of a grand time out.

“That restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is like a water fountain in the middle of a desert,” said Sussman of Sussman Realty in Boca Raton.

But with Boca Raton opening soon, why bring Louie Bossi to nearby Delray Beach?

“We love the Delray market,” Herbst said.

Big Time knows it well. The company has operated City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue for 16 years, and it opened Rocco’s Tacos, its Mexican food concept, last year there, too.

Delray Beach already overflows with Italian restaurants, including Tramonti, Sazio, Vic & Angelo’s and Caffe Luna Rosa, to name a few. Many are good, Herbst said.

“But we’re going to build a great Italian restaurant,” he said. “It’s a natural for downtown Delray Beach. It’s an amazing corner and an amazing space, and tremendous views of Old School Square.”

The redo will require a complete renovation of the space. Downstairs was Cafe Bleu, now closed. Upstairs is Weiner’s law office, which will move elsewhere.

Herbst hopes the Louie Bossi Delray Beach location will open sometime next year.

BrickTop’s Coming Soon

Another popular restaurant is working hard in time to be ready for the season. It’s BrickTop’s on the Water, in the former River House restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens.

BrickTop’s co-founder Joe Ledbetter said the Intracoastal Waterway eatery at 2373 PGA Blvd. should be ready by early February.

The restaurant is being completely renovated inside and out, and outdoor seating will be increased, Ledbetter said. An opening was expected in November, but the opening now is pushed back three months.

A more ambitious project than first planned is underway.

In addition to a complete renovation, Ledbetter said he’s adding a tiki hut with an island bar and lounge area.

Ledbetter was a co-founder of the Houston’s restaurant chain. Now he has his eye on Palm Beach County for BrickTop’s, an upscale, casual chain. BrickTop’s has one other location in the county, in Palm Beach, at 375 S. County Road.

Ledbetter founded BrickTop’s in 2005 and gradually has been expanding the company from its headquarters in Nashville.

Unlike the River House, which served only dinner, BrickTop’s will serve lunch, dinner and brunch, Ledbetter said.

Ledbetter said he was drawn to the River House’s waterfront location, which has more than 230 feet of dock space for boats to dock and dine.

The 11,000-square-foot, Key West-style River House restaurant was a longtime favorite with diners who enjoyed its ambiance, tradition and water views.

Owner Frank Callander decided to sell in 2015 and retire from the restaurant business. An investor group that includes Alex Griswold of Palm Beach bought the property for $4 million in March. The group then leased the restaurant to BrickTop’s.

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

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