- Sarah Peters Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The new $6.5 million clubhouse that’s been the buzz of Palm Beach Gardens will open for business this weekend after almost three years of planning and construction.
The city will open the clubhouse with a tournament Saturday at the Sandhill Crane Golf Club and a family-friendly open house from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. The two-story, 22,000 square foot clubhouse with sweeping views of the course and the Loxahatchee Slough is just west of Ibis on the north side of Northlake.
The first floor is home to the pro shop, locker rooms and Dancing Crane restaurant. A banquet room with seating for 200 is on the second floor. If the weather’s nice, guests can sit on outdoor patios on either floor.
For the open house and for tournament lunches, the city will convert a covered cart staging area next to the clubhouse into the “Crane’s Nest” for outdoor eating.
“It’s a very versatile space,” Palm Beach Gardens spokeswoman Candice Temple said.
The old clubhouse built in 1991 wasn’t large enough to host special events and tournaments. Tournament banquets were held in the cart barn, which wasn’t air conditioned.
The Dancing Crane restaurant in the new club will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a jazz brunch with live music every Sunday once the clubhouse gets up and running, Temple said.
For now, the menu is “very recognizable food that’s done very well every single time,” executive chef Sean McKee said. “Where we put our touch on it is our presentation.”
The menu will evolve based on what people like, he said.
From their golf carts, golfers can place orders for quick food to go so that it will be ready for them when they come off the ninth hole, Leisure Services Administrator Charlotte Presensky said.
The restaurant is open to the public, even if people aren’t playing golf or coming to the clubhouse for a special event.
The city hired GCF Enterprises to run the food and beverage services so that it can control service and quality while leaving the day-to-day details to the management company started by James Gelfand, the former general manager at PGA National Resort & Spa, Presensky said.
People who book the clubhouse can set up a mobile bar wherever they’d like for a cocktail reception and use the outdoor balcony for pre-function space, Presensky said.
Everything faces to the east and north to minimize the afternoon sun and take advantage of the breeze, she said.
Sliding doors to the banquet room allow for a grand entrance for bridal parties, she said. At least one wedding is already booked, and the city is getting phone calls from mothers of the bride.
But, “this isn’t just for that party, that life celebration,” Presensky said. Staff can divide the room with partitions for meetings and conferences.
Eventually, there will be valet service at the clubhouse’s entrance. The city is adding parking spaces on land that Sal Balsamo gave Palm Beach Gardens after the council approved his 97-home Ancient Tree development next door. Wet weather has delayed the paving.
An 8-foot-tall video screen in the entryway will display specially-programmed content and music. On an ordinary day of golf or the finale of a tournament, it shows a live feed of the 18th hole. When people host weddings or bar or bat mitzvahs, they can have it customized with their photos, Temple said.
The screen flashes nature photos from the course, too. Bobcats, roseate spoonbills, deer and alligators are among the wildlife that frequent the course.
The cart barn and maintenance building will also eventually move to open space to the west of the clubouse, Presensky said.
The city expects to open a high-tech learning center on the east side of the entry road near the lighted driving range in March, Temple said.