Business Spotlight: Johnnie Brown’s building sold for $7.3 million

The Johnnie Brown’s building at the corner location near the FEC railroad tracks along Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach was sold to a division of Menin Development. Photo provided

By Christine Davis

A company associated with Menin Development has purchased the Johnnie Brown’s restaurant and bar building in Delray Beach.
The Menin division Rosebud JB LLC paid $7.3 million for the Atlantic Avenue restaurant building on Jan. 31. That works out to just over $2,470 a square foot for the building, built in 1939, on .16 of an acre at Northeast Third Avenue.
The seller, 301 East Atlantic LLC, bought the property for $1 million in 2009.
Another Menin division owns the vacant space to the east that housed Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza. Rosebud 307 LLC paid $5.5 million in December 2018 and plans to open the Lionfish restaurant in the 4,112-square-foot space. The building dates to 1955.
In addition to the two restaurants, Menin owns a variety of properties in downtown Delray Beach, including a 1936 building housing the Urban Outfitters store and a 1927 building with Capital One Café and bank.
Menin also is developing The Ray hotel on Northeast Second Avenue and the Delray City Market, a food hall on Southeast Third Avenue.
South Florida-based real estate investors Shane Neman, principal of Neman Ventures, and Richard Waserstein and Mauricio Bello of Waterstone Capital acquired the Residence Inn by Marriott Boca Raton from the Blackstone Group for $14.5 million in February. The 120-room extended-stay hotel sits on four acres at 525 NW 77th St.
The property will be redeveloped in three phases and is expected to be completed by 2030.
Phase 1 includes a full-scale remodeling and a marketing campaign aimed to increase occupancy. Phase 2’s goal is to increase visibility of the property. Phase 3 will include the addition of a new lodging project that leverages the Marriott brand name as well as a multifamily building complex adjacent to the hotel. 
“There are numerous indicators that peg Boca Raton as South Florida’s next high-growth locale as it further evolves into a live, work, play destination for people of all ages and backgrounds,” Neman said. “We have a grand vision for what this project will become, both in the near term and into the next decade.” 
The Residence Inn by Marriott Boca Raton, which was built in 1988, last traded hands in 2014 for $12 million. 
Ralph and Mary Gesualdo bought the waterfront Manalapan mansion at 1920 S. Ocean Blvd. for $10,299,100 from South Ocean Living LLC, managed by Francisco Gonzalez. The eight-bedroom estate, built in 2004, totals 8,706 square feet. Ralph Gesauldo was president of Milwaukee-based International Autos Group, a group of car dealerships in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
The deal closed in late January. Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate represented the buyer and the seller. The property last sold for $11.8 million in 2014.
Atlantis resident Amy Snook, co-partner in the All About Florida Homes Team of Lang Realty with Noreen Payne of Delray Beach, was recently appointed assistant manager for the Lang Realty Boynton office, where she will assist agents with contracts and client issues.  
Kaufman Lynn Construction, headquartered in Delray Beach, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Other news from the company: Tim Bonczek was promoted to vice president of operational excellence and innovation, and Elaine Hinsdale was promoted to vice president of integrated marketing. Bonczek is responsible for the company’s quality control, safety, training and technology research. Hinsdale manages the company’s marketing department and internal communication.
Political campaign veteran Joy Howell of Delray Beach is the new communications director for the Florida Democratic Party. Howell has served as communications director and senior strategist for the Federal Communications Commission, as a communications director for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign and the 2000 Democratic National Convention and, more recently, was a founder of a national consulting firm. She has had senior strategy roles on dozens of congressional and issue-based campaigns in Florida and nationally. She holds an MPA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Redlands.
The County Commission has appointed Shirley Erazo, president and CEO of the Delray Beach Housing Authority, to the board of directors of CareerSource Palm Beach County. A company chartered by the state, CareerSource has a team of career counselors, business coaches and training providers to help area businesses with training, grants and talent acquisition. It also offers job seekers career assessments, training and employment help. 
The Arc of Palm Beach County has named Ellie Marshall as its new chief operating officer. Marshall joined The Arc, a nonprofit that assists people with developmental disabilities, to oversee the organization’s day-to-day business. Previously, she spent eight years in Washington, D.C., working with the White House Conference on Aging, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Marshall was a senior manager for a luxury homebuilder and started her own art studio.
She has bachelor’s degrees in political science and creative writing from Florida State University, and a master’s degree in philosophy and social policy from George Washington University.
Pine Tree Camps at Lynn University appointed Jayson Rubin camp director. He will oversee operations, programming, and camper and staff recruitment. Rubin, who was director and co-owner of Camp Waukeela in New Hampshire, will lead a team of 100 camp counselors at Lynn and welcome more than 1,800 campers each summer.
Palm Beach State College has earned national top-10 rankings from two military publishers for the third consecutive year. Military Times and Viqtory have placed PBSC third and fourth respectively on their lists of the best higher education institutions for veterans, which in turn makes PBSC the highest-ranking Florida school in its category. In addition, Viqtory has again designated the college a Gold “Top 10” Military Friendly School, the highest level possible. For information about the college’s Veterans Services department, call 561-868-3380 or visit
The Institute for Regional Conservation, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection, restoration, and long-term management of ecological biodiversity, received a $5,000 grant from the state of Florida and the Florida Wildflower Foundation. This grant will expand the institute’s Natives for Your Neighborhood website as the go-to source for native plant selection for Florida landscapes.

Josie’s Ristorante and the front of the old Winn-Dixie (right) are all that was still standing on March 2 after demolition in part of Riverwalk Plaza in Boynton Beach. A 326-unit apartment complex is planned for the Winn-Dixie site, and Josie’s will not be allowed to stay in its current location after its lease expires Nov. 30, 2026.

Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

Steven Abrams, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, spoke to members of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber Government Affairs/Economic Development First Friday Forum and gave an update on the Tri-Rail system.
He said that with the state’s population projected to reach 24 million people by 2030, road congestion is expected to worsen. As a result, Abrams and other regional transportation leaders believe that commuter rail and intercity high-speed rail should be part of the state’s plan for managing the challenges that come with population and economic growth in Florida. 
Veteran financial trader and Boca Raton resident Larry Benedict helped Boca Helping Hands receive a large annual-match contribution. Through a live online Trade-a-Thon event, Benedict traded options to demonstrate how revenue could be generated using his techniques. In just a few hours, he turned $25,000 in seed funding into more than $100,000, which he donated to Boca Helping Hands. In addition, 1% of sales of online subscriptions during the event to Benedict’s newsletter, The Opportunistic Trader, were donated to Boca Helping Hands.
“We hoped to generate a minimum of $70,000, but were pleased that the total raised ended up being $106,000,” Benedict said. 
The nonprofit Boca Helping Hands provides food, medical and financial assistance to meet basic human needs as well as education, job training and guidance to create self-sufficiency. In January, Charity Navigator named Boca Helping Hands a Four-Star Charity for the 13th consecutive year.
Boca Helping Hands is at 1500 NW First Court. For more information, visit
In January, experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke to a full house at the Four Seasons Resort during American Friends of the Hebrew University’s annual Leadership Education Forum. The conference, “A Tradition of Innovation: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Future of Israeli Society, Technology and Medicine,” highlighted fields ranging from health, agriculture and nanotechnology to the humanities, environment and life sciences through Israeli innovations.
Other topics included repairing DNA using advanced genomic methods, and bioengineering future meat technologies. Professor Asher Cohen, president of the university, made a special appearance. Among this year’s chairpersons was Ety Alcalay of Boca Raton.
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties hosted its seventh annual Founders Luncheon on Feb. 4, showcasing a panel discussion, “Power of Place — A Conversation on Housing.”
WPTV anchor Hollani Davis moderated the discussion. Panelists included Jonathan B. Brown, director of Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Sustainability; Suzanne Cabrera, president and CEO of Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County; Anne Gerwig, mayor of the village of Wellington; and Jack Weir, president of Eastwind Development Group. 
The luncheon’s founding sponsors are Northern Trust; Rybovich Marina; Lovelight Foundation/Julie & Peter Cummings Family Fund/ Marjorie S. Fisher Fund, and The Grand Tour. Community sponsors included Sherry and Tom Barrat, Florida Power & Light, Palm Beach Illustrated, South Florida PBS, Templeton & Company and WLRN radio.
The Boca Chamber’s Community Cookout, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 7, will be at the YMCA of South Palm Beach County, 6631 Palmetto Circle S., Boca Raton. Entry is free with food tickets priced at $5 adults and free for children under 10.  

Jane Smith contributed to this column.
Send business news to Christine Davis at

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