By Dan Moffett
Two coastally iconic Manalapan businesses that were headed for the wrecking ball to make way for a new Publix at Plaza del Mar are planning to relocate soon in larger spaces at the center.
Manalapan Italian Cuisine, with its Basil Bar and Grill, is moving to the west end of the plaza, near Thaikyo Asian restaurant in a storefront formerly occupied by Guido the Tailor.
Owner Earl Bass says the new pizza eatery will be called Basil.
“We’re going to keep it simple,” Bass said of the name change. “There will be seating for 132, compared to the 79 seats we now have. It’s one huge room that will all flow together with outdoor seating and a bar with twice as many seats.”
Relocating next door to the new Basil restaurant is Palm Beach Travel, which also is moving into a bigger unit with 2,200 square feet, compared with the business’ current 750-foot store. Owner Annie Davis says she intends to be open by early October and also will run an art gallery, Palm Beach Art and Travel, in the adjacent space.
“We’re really excited,” Davis said. “The plaza has been great, and our clients have been very supportive, but we’ll be glad to get this behind us.”
At the other end of the plaza near State Road A1A, Pedro Maldonado is about to move his Jewelry Artisans business into space alongside Evelyn & Arthur Clothing & Gifts. Maldonado said Evelyn & Arthur will downsize by half and turn over the eastern side of the unit to the jewelry store.
“A miracle happened,” said Maldonado, who has had his shop at the same plaza location for nearly three decades. “I was freaking out wondering what we were going to do. Then this came as a surprise at the last minute.”
Maldonado said Fred Weissman, the president and chief financial officer of Evelyn & Arthur, approached him and offered about 2,100 square feet of the boutique’s space, roughly twice what the jeweler has now.
“I thought he was joking with me,” Maldonado said. “We’ll be visible from the road now and have people walking over from the Eau (Palm Beach Resort & Spa). It’s an unexpected positive thing for us.”
Both Basil and Jewelry Artisans hope to have their rebuilt businesses up and running before the end of October. Bass and Maldonado said Kitson & Partners, the plaza’s landlord, agreed to help pay for some of the relocation expenses.
Bass, who owns the restaurant with his wife, artist Hedy McDonald, thinks the new location will improve the business’ visibility.
“You’ll be able to see us from the road,” Bass said. “We’ve been buried for four years where we are now.”
He said Basil will keep its popular karaoke shows and add Motown and blues acts for the weekend. Bass said he is overhauling the menu, adding more fish entrees. Pizza will remain a signature dish.
Maldonado says neighboring with the Evelyn & Arthur could be good for his jewelry business and the fashion boutique: “We may be able to bring customers to each other.”
The jeweler said a friend of his next door at the plaza’s Chabad of South Palm Beach gave him some words of encouragement weeks ago that seem to have come true.
“The Chabad lady said that sometimes good things can come from something bad,” he said. “Maybe that’s what’s happening to us.”
By Dan Moffett