The Coastal Star

Along the Avenues: Manero empire continues to thrive, but where is David?

Curiouser and curiouser.  Of course, Alice has nothing on David Manero, whose restaurant wonderland in Delray Beach has turned into a nightmare. Oh sure, the restaurants he ran — Vic & Angelo’s, The Office and Burger Fi — seem to be doing fine, but David is nowhere in sight. Which had the Atlantic Avenue rumor mill working overtime with claims that his partners had him banned from the premises and that the FBI wanted him for illegalities — not so, said spokespeople in the West Palm Beach and Miami offices.
    In a rare published comment, Manero told Bill Citara of Boca Raton magazine the parting was “ugly,” but that he’s working on several new concepts, including a Neapolitan pizzeria.
    While Manero usually has attracted all the ink regarding the restaurants, John Rosatti has been the silent partner who carries a big stick. A New Yorker who was one of the top automobile dealers in the country, Rosatti likes big, big, big boats and enjoys a friendly rivalry with old Flatbush buddy and car dealer-boat fancier John Staluppi. So friendly that they created Millennium Super Yachts in North Palm Beach.  
    Rosatti’s personal website, johnrosatti.com, opens with a quotation from Abe Lincoln: “Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.” One acquaintance of Rosatti and Staluppi said recently, “They’re smart and they’re tough; you don’t want to cross either one of them.” But Rosatti’s also regarded as a strong family man and opens his wallet for worthy causes, such as the American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Clubs and in 2002 a gift to the Benjamin School in North Palm Beach of $1 million.
    By the way, out in Laguna Beach, Calif., on the Pacific Coast Highway, a former KFC restaurant (on land previously occupied by a used car lot) is set to reopen in June as BurgerFi. The developer? A 2012 graduate of Dartmouth College, who has family ties to Southern California but also spent summers working in his family’s Florida restaurants, beginning as a server. His name: David Mainiero. (Yes, father and son spell their names differently.) Young Dave told the left coast media he thought it would be a good way to earn money for law school.
                               

Tennis player Colin Fleming reads to local schoolchildren as doubles partner Ross Hutchins looks on at Delray Beach Public Library during a break from the competition at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships across the street. They read to the youngsters, mostly from Banyan Creek Elementary School and the Boys & Girls Club, answered questions, discussed tennis and stressed the importance of working with a partner. They returned to the courts and on March 3 persevered through a 15-13 final set to win the doubles title. Photo courtesy Delray Beach Public Library

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The search for a new executive chef at The Omphoy is over almost as soon as it started. To replace Michelle Bernstein, who’s back in Miami, owner Jeff Greene has hired Michael Wurster who’s no doubt just thrilled to be back in a kitchen, any kitchen. Trained at CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America, not the spy corps), spent time with Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller and was Chef de Cuisine at Lutece for three years before running his own stove at and Cercle Rouge in TriBeCa and Icon at the W Court hotel.  
    However, as happens in the hospitality business, the W Court closed, so Wurster, 36, signed on to run another closed restaurant, Tavern on the Green in Central Park. That was two years ago. It never reopened, so he comes to the reopened eatery at The Omphoy, now named Malcolm’s after Greene’s son.
    Wurster likes to give American classics a modern twist, using local products. Two previous dishes: sushi tuna with strawberries, cucumber and mojito bubbles and black and white Maine sea scallops, layered with truffles, served with braised artichoke ravioli, chipollini onions, arugula puree and foie gras emulsion.
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At the corner of Linton Boulevard and Federal Highway in southern Delray something new — and fresh — may be on the horizon. According to merchants in the mall now anchored by Carrabbas Italian Grill, Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine, Panera Bread and Seaview Optical, a complete revamp is planned with the addition of a 20,000-square-foot Fresh Market. Merchants say they’ve been notified of the plans, but mall management referred our call to the owners in Alabama, and neither would comment or confirm.  Would be nice to have an alternative grocery option right across the bridge!
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Meanwhile, at the north end of Boca, the party continues at Caldwell Theatre Company, even as Artistic Director Clive Cholerton and his brain trust work on a salvation. The Caldwell owes Legacy Bank nearly $6 million on two mortgages. The bank filed for foreclosure, and now the theater’s finances will be controlled by a court-appointed receiver, Scott Brenner of Fort Lauderdale-based Brenner Real Estate Group. Brenner specializes in turning around troubled businesses, and as long as he remains in charge, Legacy will not close it down.  
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Serena and Venus Williams contend with the breezes on the patio of Apt. 401, the $6.5 million condo Venus decorated at One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton. Thom Smith/The Coastal Star


    When her tennis game is on, few players want to be across the net from Venus Williams. Just ask last year’s Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova after her loss at Key Biscayne on March 23 or Aleksandra Wozniak, who had match point two days later and couldn’t convert, and then Ana Ivanovic, who took the first set and then could win only four more games.
    Not bad for someone who was diagnosed last year with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder similar to lupus that causes fatigue and joint pain. But anyone who’s ever watched her play or played against her knows one sure thing: Venus is a fighter.
    She took time off from tennis. She adopted a vegan diet. She began a drug regimen to determine which are effective. She has her sights set on qualifying for the Olympics in London. But in June she’ll turn 32, and she knows her competitive days are numbered, so Venus is focusing more on her life away from tennis.
    Just as she and sister Serena demolished barriers on the court, she aims to break artistic barriers with V Starr, her decade-old interior design firm in Jupiter. She’s done work for pro athletes who live in South Florida; model homes residences in Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens; a Miami hotel; the athletic center at Howard University in Washington and even the set for Tavis Smiley’s PBS show. Nevertheless, it has all been relatively low key, until last month’s grand slam introduction at One Thousand Ocean, luxury 52-unit condo on Boca Raton Resort & Club property on Boca Inlet.
    To push the 12 unsold units, LXR President of Development Jamie Telchin threw a party where residents and prospective tenants could mingle in an unfinished penthouse and also see Unit 401, Venus’ contribution to the seascape: 4,971 interior square feet, another 1,289 on the terrace, four bedrooms, 4½ baths and $6.45 million with Venus’ furnishings, $5.95 million without.  
    For Venus, who studied at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, design is organic and a matter of trust. “V Starr is me and nothing happens that isn’t my style,” she said. “And my style is that you can’t do something just because you want to. You have to have reason; it has to be functional; it has to be beautiful.”
    While she had to start at the bottom, just as she did in tennis, Williams concedes she had some advantages in the design game because of her name.  
“Because of my high profile, people say OK we’ll talk to her, but that doesn’t mean they’ll let me do the job,” Williams said. “But once they meet me and my team and really see the picture, they realize this is really serious design, that we can do the job.”   
    Asked how much of her competitive nature from tennis did she bring to the design world, Venus answered, “All of it.”
    Game on.  
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    It’s festival time. More events than you can shake a stick at, and enough to satisfy just about everyone’s needs. First up is the Palm Beach International Film Festival, although its south county presence is limited this year.  The festival opens April 12 at Muvico Parisian in CityPlace with a screening of Robot & Frank, a Sundance entry starring Frank Langella. It wraps April 19 at Cobb Theatres in Downtown at the Gardens with a screening of Sassy Pants (Haley Joel Osment and Anna Gunn).
    A lifetime achievement award will be presented to actress June Lockhart at Silver Screen Bash at The Lake Pavilion on the Waterfront in West Palm Beach on April 15. Lockhart, who became a cult figure as Maureen Robinson in Lost in Space, is 86 and still acting. She co-stars in the comedy Zombie Hamlet, which will have its world premiere at PBIFF. The film also stars Shelley Long, who will attend.
    In south county, short films will be screened at the Lake Worth Playhouse’s Stonzek Theatre on April 13, 14 and 15, and at Delray’s Debilzan Gallery on April 15. Several documentaries are scheduled for Mizner Park’s Cultural Arts CenterMoney and Medicine and Genius on Hold (April 13); Lunch Hour, Free China: The Courage To Believe, True Gods Have Bones (Los Dioses De Verdad Tienen Huesos), Crocodile in the Yangtze and Happy You’re Alive (April 14); My Mother’s Idea, a student film showcase, John Portman: A Life of Building, Violins in Wartime, Follow Me and a local film showcase (April 15). Tickets are $10, $7 for students and seniors, $60 for the opening night party, $40 for the closer. Festival packages range from $150 to $500. Visit www.pbifilmfest.org.
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    This year’s Delray Affair, April 13-15, promises to be golden. After all, the post-Easter, season-ending street party is celebrating its 50th anniversary. New this year: a Delray Beach history booth and two covered beer gardens with live entertainment at Old School Square. Lots of good free entertainment. Those waxing nostalgic for affairs two decades ago when the hottest local band was InHouse, should drop by the street tent at 11 a.m. Saturday, when ex-InHousers Gin Blische and Andy Stein take the stage.
    The beer tents, by the way, will stay up through April 21 for the Old School BeerFest. The early evening bash — 4-8 p.m. — will feature more than 50 craft beers, 15 food trucks, and live music with The Dillengers and The Resolvers. It’s a fundraiser to support free Friday night concerts at Old School Square. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door; VIP $75 and $85 and space is limited. Call 243-7922.  
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    Across the lawn, the little idea that could is a year old. Quite frankly, the Arts Garage has taken off, a maelstrom of human expression — art, theater, concerts, movies and of course, artists.  
    “We were hoping,” Executive Director Alyona Ushe said of the Garage’s success. “ It just speaks to the great need, and to the sophistication of the audience we have here in South Florida. From the beginning it was our plan to attract as many programs as possible, and to be all encompassing. It’s the space itself. It’s warm and cozy, yet edgy. It has its own pulse.”  
    On April 28, Delray’s Arts Garage will celebrate with a birthday party with food, wine, an auction, saxophonist Ed Calle, cabaret performances by The Garage Girls and some surprise performers.  For tickets — $75 single, $125 per couple — and sponsorships, www.artsgarage.org.
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    SunFest is just around the corner with an entertainment lineup that includes the Marshall Tucker Band, Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock and Counting Crows. Hard to believe this is the 30th festival. Opening in 1983 as a replacement for the Royal Palm Festival, it lasted 10 days, no admission was charged, and fans were entertained by the likes of Washboard Bill and the high-wire derring do of Carla Wallenda.
    A year later, the buzz was jazz with Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis and Herbie Mann, but change was in the wind as the first pop group, The Association, appeared.   
    The inaugural attracted about 100,000; in 1991, organizers became concerned when crowds exceeded 350,000.  Recent attendance has settled under 300,000 and a day pass is still $30 before April 28, $35 at the gate, and an advance 5-day pass is $61. Rock on.
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    When the first settlers arrived more than a century ago, the water was a major attraction. That hasn’t changed. In fact, it may be reinforced with the opening a few weeks ago of Lake Worth’s Snook Islands Natural Area. The project affects 100 acres of wetlands in Lake Worth just east of the Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course that were just about ruined in the 1920s. Dredging and filling killed off the mangroves and native wildlife that was replaced by Brazilian pepper and Australian pine.
    But thanks to a $1.9 million restoration project, the bad flora is gone, the mangroves and wetland habitats are back, the dredged holes have been filled, seagrass planted and oyster beds created. And the public can take advantage of the improvements thanks to a new 590-foot fishing pier, a 545-foot boardwalk, floating boat docks and kayak launch.
Now, if the city can hold a steady course on the $6.7 million restoration of the beach casino …

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at thomsmith@ymail.com.

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