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By Jane Smith

    The restaurant once known as the Little House will reopen this summer as Fork Play.
    A late decision by the owners, former Ocean Ridge Vice Mayor Richard Lucibella and his partner, to enclose the eatery’s outside porch led to a delay. They wanted to increase the restaurant’s space by 525 square feet and add 30 seats. The Boynton Beach City Commission granted that approval in June.
    But it took months before permits were issued, following the submittal of a construction permit application. The city building department issued the permits in early February, allowing work to resume on the restaurant.
    At the March 15 Community Redevelopment Agency meeting, board members received an update on this restaurant from Michael Simon, interim executive director of the CRA.
    “We have no control over city staff doing the reviews,” Simon said.  
    Lucibella’s company paid the CRA $335,000 in April 2016 for the 768-square-foot structure at 480 E. Ocean Ave.
    The contractor needs another six to eight weeks to finish his work, Eleanor Krusell, city spokeswoman, said in mid-March.
    Then, restaurateur Lisa Mercado can begin her work on the inside to outfit the building as an eatery. That work will take about six weeks, she said.
    “I can’t wait for everyone to stop asking me ‘when,’” she said. Every night at her other Boynton Beach restaurant, the Living Room on Congress Avenue, customers ask her when Fork Play will open.
    For the restaurant in the Magnuson House at 211 E. Ocean Ave., the approval process is moving forward more slowly. The architect submitted plans Dec. 30, Simon told the CRA board.
    AW Architects has received comments from city planning staff and is in the process of answering them, Simon said.
    CRA board member Joe Casello said he’s heard that the owner can’t find a restaurant operator.
    The owner still plans to operate a restaurant there and is using the comment period to interview operators and contractors, Simon said.
    A division of Local Development Co. in Philadelphia paid $255,000 to the CRA in September. The two-story home needed extensive work to be converted into a restaurant.

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