During summer months we tend to see a “change in guard” with downtown restaurants. Some close, others open and there’s plenty of locals wondering if this is the beginning of the end for Clematis Street.
This year, we were hit hard with the closing of the trendy Parisian restaurant Le Rendezvous. LRDV, as it was referred to by locals, was opened by French brothers Olivier and Edouard Delrieu, who brought a unique Parisian menu and atmosphere to Datura Street.
The restaurant was doing well, but their landlord raised the lease and they were no longer able to afford the space.
Another recent loss to downtown is The Wine Dive, which was on the 300 block of Clematis Street. It boasted a massive selection of wines by the glass and was known for its small bites and Sunday morning brunch. The Wine Dive started the brunch trend in downtown West Palm Beach and was easily the busiest and most popular brunch in town, but it also fell victim to rising lease prices.
I’m saddened that downtown landlords are choosing to get rid of the proverbial “bird in the hand” businesses for the “two in the bush.”
With the popularity of downtown West Palm Beach and the upswing in the economy, landlords know they can get higher rent from new businesses and national chains. What they don’t see is the reason downtown is doing well is because of the small businesses who stuck it out through the rough times and gained a loyal following.
People consistently say they love the “local downtown feel,” but if each of the local businesses were replaced by a high-paying national chain, then our downtown would be nothing more than any one of the thousands of other malls around the country – which are in decline.
Jardin, Off the Hookah and Southern Railway Taphouse, along with Bowery Coastal in Cityplace, also closed their doors.
Here’s the good news: Clematis Street entrepreneur Rodney Mayo just opened two new restaurants on the 500 block of Clematis Street – Kapow! and Lost Weekend.
Lost Weekend has been a downtown tradition for the past two decades. First on Olive Avenue and then on the 200 block of Clematis.
Since its closing several years ago, we’ve been without a pool hall downtown. Now it’s back and features a taco bar that’s open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
Kapow! Noodle Bar was developed in Boca Raton and was the highest-grossing restaurant at Mizner Park.
The downtown West Palm location opened in July and is in the space that formerly housed Longboards on the 500 block of Clematis Street. The trendy menu consists of cocktails, noodles and “late night comfort food.”
A little further in the development pipeline are two breweries. West Palm Brewery and Wine Vault is scheduled to open later this year on the 300 block of Evernia Street and will feature a 10,000-bottle wine vault.
Just outside downtown in the Warehouse District, the good people behind Tequesta Brewing Company and Twisted Truck Brewing in Jupiter are getting ready to open the Steam Horse Brewing Company.
Here’s some more businesses planning to open soon in downtown West Palm Beach:
• Pipeline Poké Co. will open on the corner of Dixie Highway and Evernia Street;
• Aioli is scheduled to open on Olive Avenue in September;
• Muscle Maker Grill will open on the corner of Datura Street and Olive Avenue.
• Rossano To Go, a pizzeria and sandwich shop, has plans to open on S. Narcissus Avenue.
• On the 200 block of Clematis Street, MidiCi, a fast-casual pizza restaurant, is currently in the middle of its build-out.
There you have it, my semi-annual development update. You can either wait a few months for my next update or head to downtown and check things out for yourself. There’s always plenty to do.