The Coastal Star

Along the Avenues: The NFL in Delray Beach!

The recently revived and moved Elwood’s in Delray (301 NE Third Ave.) seems to be hitting its stride — barbecue with a Virginia accent and a strong weekend lineup up of regional bands and the occasional national act, including The Dillengers and the HepCat Boodaddies and Johnny Ray’s ‘Elvis Thursdays.’ The locals get their shot on Open Mic Wednesday. Take H2O (above). That’s H as in Steve Hull and two Os, as in Billy and Bobby, the Ott twins. They play jazz. Bass player Hull and drummer Bobby live in Boca Raton. Keyboardist Billy calls Delray Beach home. They’re all pretty much retired, enjoying life and playing music for fun. And a plus for Elwood’s, they have a following: the loafer, khaki and buttondown crowd from beachside. Photo by Jerry Lower

By Thom Smith

NFL. Could be the No Football League this fall if the owners and the players union don’t cool off. Meanwhile, the players have no choice but to stay in shape, and a couple of tons of them were working out together in Delray Beach. Lockout or not, they’re also planning to do something to put the community in better shape with “Grid Iron Greats Blitz Delux” at Delux night club at 6 p.m May 26.
 Organized by Prep and Sports Inc. and Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Brandon Flowers, who played high school football at Atlantic High, the bash will feature several NFL stars and hopefuls as celebrity bartenders. They’ll compete for tips and guests will bid for “dates” with them. Donations will go to programs that help high school athletes in Delray, Boca and Boynton improve their physical and academic fitness.
The Blitz is a kick-off event for Flowers’ Charity Weekend of comedy, bowling, a 7-on-7 high school football tournament and other events from July 7-10. (www.prepandsports.org)
                                    
 Steffi Graf arrived on the international tennis scene just as Chris Evert was leaving, so tennis aficionados never saw them prime against prime. But come November, we’ll be able at least to see them on the court again. Graf, now married to Andre Agassi and mother of two, has committed to play in the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Classic, Nov. 11-13, at the Delray Tennis Center. It’ll be a class act.
                                    
Paying his dues … and loving it. In mid-April, Bobby Lee Rodgers was the morning wakeup band at the four-day Wanee Musical Festival along the Suwannee River in Live Oak. On the 27th, he opened for the Avett Brothers at SunFest, then was off to Key West, St. Pete and Orlando, before heading to Lake Worth for a May 21 gig at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth.
Bobby hails from Augusta, Ga., where he naturally picked up bluegrass and then headed north to Boston, to the prestigious Berklee School of Music, where he became one of its youngest teachers ever, of jazz. In 1999, he formed The Codetalkers, which enjoyed some festival popularity, especially for his guitar work. The Codetalkers signed off for good in 2009, but Rogers and his trio, with a new CD, are still plugging away with a show that offers a little bit of everything.                    

“I’m having a ball,” he said after his SunFest set. “It was a great crowd, great sound. And I always love playing the Bamboo Room. Can’t wait to get back.”
With the likes of Rodgers and several other top acts, the revived Bamboo is barreling full speed into summer. The lineup includes:  Albert Castiglia, May 7; Debbie Davies, May 12; Commander Cody, May 14; Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers, May 28; John Lee Hooker Jr., June 18, and Randall Bramblett, July 9.
                                    
In southern Palm Beach County, the trend seems to be two-for-one — two restaurants open for every one that closes. The latest announcement is the arrival in Delray of concept king Dennis Max. He’s taking over Susser’s old Taste space on Northwest Second Avenue and plans a June opening for Max’s Harvest. It’s a farm-to-table approach offering “clean, simple, unadulterated food” from local and regional growers and producers “that lets the land speak for itself.”
Max already has neighborly competition: Turkish owner Numan Unsal has converted an interior design shop into his first U.S. restaurant, and it’s garnering rave reviews. Sefa, which translates as “fare,” as in food and drink, shows a Mediterranean flair … and a fair price.
Tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, tzatziki, falafel, kibbe, kebabs, gyros, pasta, baklava and coffee done right, and the most expensive dishes on the menu are a mixed grill and Mediterranean dorado, both at $24. Most entrees, however, go for $14 to $18. Fridays and Saturdays, Unsal offers belly dancing … not with him, though, he’s in the kitchen.
                                    
One restaurateur who seems to continue defying the odds in Delray is David Manero. He’s close to the tracks on Atlantic with Vic & Angelo’s and The Office and now he’ll soon return to the beach scene with BurgerFi at the corner of Atlantic and A1A. Manero knows the place well; before the now departed but delightful Surf Sliders, he had Shore there.
Though it may conjure up gung ho images, BurgerFi has nothing to do with the Marines. Manero talks of the “burgerfication” of America, as if McDonald’s hasn’t done that already. But his fi is high — in quality with grass-fed, hormone-free beef, and all the fixin’s and in price with a 3.5-ounce burger (the Whopper is 4 ounces) starting at $5.47 at the flagship Fort Lauderdale stand. Fries start at $2.77, “real” Coca Cola (made in Mexico with cane sugar), $2.57.
Remodeling continues at a blistering pace as Manero plans a July 4 opening.
                                    
And for good measure, look for another high-profile addition to appear soon on the Delray scene. Rumors have Angelo Elia opening D’Angelo downtown in the near future. Elia’s Casa D’Angelo has been one of the top-rated restaurants in Fort Lauderdale for more than a decade, and he’s building a similar reputation at a his Casa in Boca. (No connection to the since departed Cucina d’Angelo, late of Boca Center, or Café d’Angelo, on West Glades Road.)  D’Angelo reportedly will offer less pricey variants of Angelo’s Tuscan specialties. Stay tuned.
                                    
Up in Boynton, the WalMart is rising faster than a loaf of cheap bread, but the bigger news is barely a mile up the road. After observing the scene in Delray for several years, Clint Reed has decided to give Boynton a shot at Las Ventanas, the huge condo-commercial complex at the corner of Woolbright and Federal. He’s just opened Sweetwater Bar & Grill with plush leather sofas and chairs, craft beers, specialty drinks, upscale bar food and soon a band on weekends.
“I got a lot of my ideas from Tribeca in New York — it’s the hot place now — and San Francisco,” Reed said. “We wanted it to be a little bit more than a gastro pub.”
The commercial side of Las Ventanas isn’t exactly booming: Sweetwater is only the third occupant, but the residences are 81 percent rented.
“We’ve got 1,000 people living here,” Reed said, “plus we’re getting a lot of people from across the bridge.”
                                    
Forget Iowa. No way, New Hampshire. The 21st century spawning ground for presidential politics is Florida. Don’t be surprised if someday the Oval Office is renamed the Orange Office, which would be quite apropos if, by some quirk of the cosmos, one particular political noisemaker should take over.
As in Donald Trump. He continues to toy with the media and the American people, some of whom believe all this candidate talk is a ploy to boost ratings on Celebrity Apprentice and some who really believe he would make a great president.
Precedent? At the state level, we’ve had wrestler Jesse Ventura in Minnesota, terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger and “Gipper” Ronald Reagan in California. But no one has become president without holding some office before.
Europe has its version of the Donald. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made millions in real estate and then in the TV business, although Berlusconi is short (5-5, Trump is 6-2), and Trump isn’t saddled with a sex scandal. Berlusconi had hair transplants; Trump, well …
The Donald plows ahead, adhering to the philosophy that you can say what you want about him, just spell the name right. He doesn’t hesitate to steal the spotlight from anyone, be it Rep. Allen West at a Boca Tea Party rally or taking credit for forcing President Obama to produce his “long form” birth certificate.
So is he running, or isn’t he? He won’t fess up, but on at least two recent occasions at his Mar-a-Lago — a true gem of Trump’s remaking — eyewitnesses claim he requested presidential introductions.
Just before taking the stage at a March charity gala, Trump read over the master of ceremonies’ printed introduction, nodded a couple of times, then struck through the last sentence with his pen and wrote, “next president of the United States.”
At the April 15 Palm Beach Centennial kick-off reception attended by Gov. Rick Scott and Tea Party backer David Koch, he suggested to organizers that he be introduced as “the next president of the United States.”
Questions are being raised about Trump’s draft status and the absence of military service during the Vietnam War, his truthfulness about his wealth and his endeavors in pushing for Obama’s birth records. He’ll have to come clean soon, or the advice offered by a former president could ring true: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  — Abraham Lincoln.

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

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