Architect Doug Mummaw (left), Marta and James Batmasian, their son
Armen Batmasian, Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel and Vice Mayor
Susan Haynie join 7-Eleven officials at the ribbon cutting on East
Palmetto Park Road. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Jan Norris
A ribbon cutting for a convenience store in Boca? Yessiree. Then again, the new 7-Eleven at 831 E. Palmetto Park Road isn’t your run-of-the-mill convenience store.
“This is the Ritz of 7-Elevens,” proclaimed an enthusiastic Mayor Susan Whelchel, on hand for the Dec. 19 ribbon cutting. “I think many of the people who opposed it may turn out to be some of its best customers.”
Indeed the national chain store — known for Slurpees, roller food and being open 24 hours a day — sparked controversy when the idea first surfaced in 2011.
Owners of the property, James and Marta Batmasian’s Investments Limited, wanted to expand and enhance the building once occupied by a surf shop to make it more attractive for a lease with 7-Eleven. It was (is) all part of the effort aimed at revitalizing a commercial center developed in the late 1960s and in need of a face-lift. The redevelopment area (from 800 to 899 E. Palmetto Park Road) was recently dubbed “Boca Beach Shops.”
Promoters pitched the convenience store as “Starbucks-like” with much healthier food options than Big Bite hot dogs and those humongous sugary soft drinks that make Michael Bloomberg wince. But neighbors, who packed City Hall to oppose the 7-Eleven, worried it would be a magnet for beer-guzzling bums and noxious fumes from garbage bins. They feared noise and light shining into nearby homes as trucks made nighttime deliveries.
Not to worry, says Doug Mummaw, architect and representative of Investments Limited. Deliveries for the 7-Eleven are made at the front of the store during the day. And as for bums, well, a few were spotted peering into the glass doors early on the morning on opening day but turned away as if the place was just too darn swanky.
The store’s clean and crisp beachy interior motif, handled by the architect’s wife, designer Diana Mummaw, sports tasteful glass tile walls, dark porcelain tile floors that look like hardwood and a granite coffee bar with an impressive array of blends. “There’s even a nice selection of wines,” Doug Mummaw says. Pizzas, fresh from the oven, are available for take-out. Deli salads, fruit cups, sandwiches under 400 calories and other healthy options similar to those you might find at Whole Foods are attractively packaged and displayed.
Security is first rate with cameras are plugged directly into the city police department. Someone threw a rock through the front window before the 7-Eleven opened and cops nailed the culprit before you could knock back a Big Gulp.
Get your swing ready — duffers can get in on the 13th annual Allianz Golf Championship Feb. 4-10 at The Old Course at Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton.
Amateurs will get a chance to play with some of the legends of golf coming for the tournament in a Pro-Am game preceding the championship rounds.
Along with 2012 Allianz winner Corey Pavin, expect past winners Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer, and top PGA players Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson and Fred Funk. They’re all playing for a piece of the $1.8 million purse in this first of the season full-field tournament.
This is the seventh year for the tournament in Boca Raton.
Oenophiles can get in on the action as well with the Grapes on the Green Golf and Wine Experience. It’s a chance to mingle with the golfers near the 18th green on Saturday, Feb. 9.
A number of golfers have their own wine labels, and along with those, wines from international vineyards will be poured by the Boca Raton Bridge Hotel, with food samples from area restaurants served. Live entertainment and an auction are part of the after-game event that will benefit the Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
From last year’s event, the hospital received $50,000 from the Boca Raton Champions Golf Charities, organizers of the tournament.
It’s big money for the area, too, according to Ryan Dillon, BRCGC director, who said $15 million came into the area from the 65,000 spectators and others attending the games.
Tickets for the Grapes on the Green are $85, with other ticket packages available that include hotel stays and tournament passes. General admission for the tournament is $20 for adults. Ticket information and the tournament schedule is available at www.allianzchampionship.com.
A Neil Simon play is first billing at the new theater opening in Boynton Beach downtown. Stage Left Theatre, a non-profit, comes from principals from the Royal Playhouse in West Palm Beach, run by Peter Pagliao.
I Ought to Be in Pictures will run Feb. 8-17 at the 98-seat theater two blocks south of Boynton’s City Hall at 145 S.E. Second Ave.
The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County helped Pagliao working on the theater as a non-profit venture secure the abandoned building. In a statement, Rena Blades, president of the council, said, “We’re thrilled to see Stage Left Theatre come to Boynton Beach. It’s a great addition to the city and the downtown cultural corridor.”
Boynton’s Community Redevelopment Association also played a role in bringing the playhouse to the area that already houses the Avenue of the Arts, the Children’s Schoolhouse Museum and a number of restaurants and stores.
The theater has an 18-month lease approved by the City Council in November; the building refurbishment also was approved.
A full youth program as well as workshops and summer plays are planned. Rehearsals began this month for the Neil Simon play — the only play announced at presstime.
Volunteers are needed at the theater for the upcoming season. For information and tickets to upcoming performances, call 301-5404.
Top dog London poses with his owners, Jamie Danburg and
Michele Molnar of Boca Raton, and his handler, Ann Rairigh,
at the Eukanuba World Challenge in Orlando. Photo provided
A green squeaky snake is the comfort toy of the world’s Top Dog. That would be London (formally known as Jaset’s Satisfaction). The black standard poodle competed in December at the Eukanuba World Challenge in Orlando, and beat out dogs from 155 other countries to win Best of Show.
Owners Jamie Danburg and Michele Molnar of Boca Raton were with London at the event that netted them the $10,000 purse. This was London’s 89th Best of Show award, Danburg said. “It’s an amazing feat for any one dog.”
Off stage, the poodle is “just like your pet,” he said. “He likes squeaky toys, he plays Frisbee, likes to swim in the lake. He just gets dressed up once a week or so.”
The dining scene is growing again. Gary Rack, of Rack’s Downtown in Boca’s Mizner Park is opening his newest concept, Rack’s Fish House and Oyster Bar in the old VFW hall in Delray Beach. It’s scheduled to open this month.
Sustainable “ocean to table” seafood will be a hallmark of the New England-style fish house, with retro cocktails that are trending again. The steam kettles will be reminiscent of the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, and décor will be a contemporary twist on nautical design. Look for hand-painted brick walls and a zinc bar — and expect something unusual in lighting — chandeliers at his other restaurants are notably quirky.
Some of the menu items proffered are Ipswich clams, oysters Rockefeller, oyster and fish pan roasts, po’ boys and a live raw bar.
Rack’s Fish House & Oyster Bar is at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Southeast Second Avenue.
Smashburger, one of the fastest growing chains in the U.S., opened in Boynton Beach as the year ended. The chain is known for the Angus beef burgers formed, seasoned and “smashed” on the 400-degree grill. The “Smashfries” are seasoned in rosemary and olive oil with sea salt. Unique to the group is their menu, offering regional favorites as well as traditional burgers, other sandwiches, salads, and Haagen-Dazs shakes.
Powers that be decided Florida wants Cuban-style burgers, and thus created the Miami Burger for the menu here: grilled Spanish chorizo, frita potatoes, aged Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and spicy chipotle mayo on a Cuban roll.
Smashburger is at 1729 S. Federal Highway (Sunshine Square), Boynton Beach, open for lunch and dinner hours.
Rumors apparently are true: The Fresh Market will come to Delray Beach. The grocery store will be at South Federal Highway and East Linton Boulevard, and the lease negotiations still have the details trickling. No opening date has been announced.
Fresh Market news effectively quashes the rumor of a Trader Joe’s coming to the same area. The Greensboro, N.C. based grocery chain has 128 other stores scattered around the states primarily east of the Mississippi. There are 33 already in Florida.
About 100 jobs will come with the market, officials say.
The Arts Garage kicks off with legends — namely Bob Margolin, one of the last members of Muddy Waters’ band, a trumpeter and flugelhorn player. He’ll perform Jan. 19.
Randy Brecker, a big name and Grammy winner in blues and jazz, also appears on the 26th.
The Theatre at Arts Garage brings its second production, a black comedy — Gloucester Blue — by renowned playwright Israel Horovitz to the stage.
Also at midmonth, the student band, The Grease Monkeys, of the Performing Arts Academy will perform at an open house for the academy. The Arts Garage Guild also will hold an open house.
For dates and ticket information, go to www.artsgarage.org, or call 450-6357.
Lindsay Autry, chef about town who competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Texas, and who helped Michelle Bernstein open MB’s at the Omphoy in Palm Beach, has been named executive chef of the Sundy House. The botanical-garden restaurant set in the historic mayor’s home in downtown Delray Beach will get a makeover, Autry said. She’s already replaced napery color schemes and dishware; a kitchen makeover may be coming — including a theater kitchen with other updates. The menu will be eclectic. Autry blends her Southern roots with Mediterranean in a contemporary style.
Mozart Café, a Kosher dairy restaurant, opened recently in Boca at 7300 W. Camino Real. Authentic Mediterranean and Israeli dishes are served, including shakshuka, and makalav along with other Mediterranean favorites.
Anne and Norman Jacobsen of Boca Raton have given a $1 million gift to name the Jewish Family Services’ food pantry. The Jacobsen Family Food Pantry is in a new 2,600-square-foot warehouse on Congress Avenue in Delray Beach. It serves more than 550 people with bi-monthly food packages.
Jan Norris writes about Food and Florida on her blog, jannorris.com. Email her at email@example.com.
Thom Smith is on assignment working for FEMA in the Northeast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He hopes to return to Around Town soon.