Along the Avenues: Evert continues to score with tennis classic













Chris Evert (above) taunts Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan (left) after lobbing a ball at him during last month’s Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. Donovan told Evert not to hit the ‘money-maker.’ Photos by Jerry Lower



By Thom Smith

With a lot of community support and a little help from tennis and show biz friends, Chris Evert raised another $800,000 with her Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Since its inaugural in 1988, the event has raised $20 million, all of which has gone to charities in South Florida.
    Tennis stars John and Peter McEnroe and Murphy Jensen and film/TV stars Christian Slater (Breaking In), the recently slimmed comedian Jon Lovitz, Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan and Today’s Hoda Kotb added luster to the weekend. Proceeds go to Ounce of Prevention, which assists pregnant and parenting women who are trying to overcome substance abuse problems.
    Evert’s ex-, champion fisherman and former Olympic skier Andy Mill, can now add another line to his shingle: award-winning author. Mill received two gold medals from The Benjamin Franklin Awards, one of the more prestigious accolades in independent publishing. His book, A Passion for Tarpon, was named best recreation/sports title and best regional title, the first book about fishing ever to be so honored.
    “This important new book, besides being visually stunning and a fascinating read, is an excellent resource to educate anglers and policymakers on a global scale, we hope helping to guide legislation and sound management supporting their conservation for future generations,” said Dr. Jerry Ault, University of Miami marine biology and fisheries professor and founding member/scientific adviser of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.
    Mill, on the other hand, is amazed that he was able to bring it off. “It’s insane; I’m not an author, I’m a skier,” he said, noting that helping to write scripts for the fishing show he hosted on the Outdoor Life Network was nothing like writing a book.
    “I needed something to pull me out of the hole I was in after my divorce and this publisher asked me to do this book,” said Mill, just back in Boca after summering in Aspen. “It took me five years. Debra and this book pulled me out of that hole.”
    Debra is the former Debra Harvick, whom he met two years ago in Aspen, asked her to marry on their third date and finally tied the knot a year ago in Aspen.
    “She’s my best friend,” Mill said. “We ride our bikes on A1A and when we go bow-hunting for elk in Colorado, she’s right there alongside me.” 
    Splendid timing. It’s not in our circulation area, but no doubt some local beachcombers will want to make the trip to Stuart’s Lyric Theatre on Dec. 13, 14 or 15. Actor Robert Wagner will deliver a personal retrospective. Wonder what he’ll have to say about that night 30 years ago aboard his yacht Splendour.  All tickets are $50. (772) 286-7827 or

    For love or …? One-time Delray Beach businessman and two-time failed political candidate Nick Loeb says he won’t run for the U.S. Senate. Loeb had been interested in the seat held by Democrat Bill Nelson.
    The son of a Reagan-appointed ambassador, Loeb lost a Delray Beach Commission race in 2007 and abandoned a Florida Senate race in 2009 after his wife filed for divorce. He then popped up in California where he became friends with Modern Family star Sofia Vergara, who offered aid and comfort after he was banged up in a car crash.
    Loeb had said last summer that he would decide about another campaign after the Emmy awards in September. On Nov. 17, shortly after Fox News reported Loeb would run — with the blessing of Vergara — he held a brief news conference in Miami Beach.With Vergara at his side, he announced he would not run. “I’m still very hurt from last year’s accident,” he explained.
    Maybe the pain is caused by bad odds. Republican hopefuls include local Adam Hasner, the former state House majority leader, former U.S. Senate appointee George LeMieux and, most recently, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack from Cape Coral. Mack has name recognition: old-timers think he’s his father (the former senator) and old-old-timers think he had something to do with baseball.
    South county residents who remember Prezzo, rejoice!
    “It’s like the son of Prezzo,” restaurant mogul Dennis Max said of his next project. He plans to open Assaggio del Forno — that’s Italian for “Taste of the Oven” — in early January in the space formerly occupied by Bistro Zenith in Regency Court at the corner of Jog and Yamato.
    Prezzo was a popular Italian bistro that Max and then-partner Burt Rappoport opened nearly two decades ago on Glades Road just east of the turnpike. Assaggio del Forno expands some of its concepts and introduces some new ones.
    “We’ll have an Italian wood-burning oven to make artisanal pizzas,” Max said. “But the menu will cover all of Italy, not just the south, and it will be mainly small plates and smaller plates. You can sort of graze through. We encourage people to get a few things and share them.”
    In Mizner Park, Max’s Grille is enjoying its best year ever, and Max’s Harvest, which opened in Delray’s Pineapple Grove in June, has exceeded expectations, said Max, who has added live music with “Jazz off the Avenue” every Friday, featuring saxophonist Will Bridges.
    In mid-December, Max plans to open another Italian restaurant in Deerfield Beach.  In the South Federal Highway space formerly occupied by Marcello’s, Frank & Dino’s will offer a culinary salute to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
    “It’s where the Rat Pack eats,” Max says. “We’re paying homage to that whole era — drinking, partying, a convivial atmosphere and good food. Italian-American classics — we’ll serve those dishes in their glory, surrounded by pictures of all those stars, with live music on the weekend.”
    In other restaurant news, the creators of Cut 432Brandon Belluscio, Brian Albe and Chef Anthony Pizzo — plan a January opening of Park Tavern in Worthing Place on East Atlantic in Delray.  Look for candy-red tufted booths, rough Chicago-brick walls, a poured-concrete bar, nostalgic Edison light fixtures and a menu that changes with the seasons.
    To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of Plaza del Mar have been greatly exaggerated. OK, its viability looked bleak with the departure of Florida Stage, the Epicurean and Collaro’s, but resuscitation began with the arrival of John G’s and Newport-based Angela Moore, which arrived last year on Worth Avenue, opened its Manalapan sibling Oct. 14. An opening party is scheduled for Jan. 20.
    Maybe we can blame it on Maurici Luz. Styling first with Frederic Fekkai and then at his own salon in Lake Worth, his attention was directed to a large space at Plaza del Mar. On April 1, he opened Maurici’s Salon & Spa and Milton’s Grooming Parlor, offering the utmost in pampering for humans and canines. (Milton is Maurici’s pet French bulldog.)
    Since then, First Trust Investments, Guido the TailorJewelry ArtisansJeannie’s Ocean Boutique and The Gym Manalapan have moved in. Rumors have another restaurant coming in, allegedly with Lake Worth roots, but inquiries were met with firm denials.
  TV news. It ain’t what it used to be. This is the age of gushy recitation, gratuitous cleavage, breathy and fawning interviews; reporters who don’t know the difference between a crash and a forced landing; weather girls who don’t know a typhoon from a hurricane; sanctimonious sportscasters given to pontificating instead of reporting.
    Jim Sackett did know the difference. At 66, he also knew it was time to go. Sackett signed off his last newscast at WPTV-Channel 5, Nov. 23 at 6:30, and no doubt the managements at the area’s other two network stations gave thanks. For 33 years, he helped WPTV-Channel 5 dominate the market like no other station in the nation. For those who follow, we hope they learned a few things: his sense of place, his knowledge of the community and, most importantly, that ultimately, it’s the story, not the story teller. 

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at

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