By Thom Smith
After a year in the making, and many more developing the concept, Due South Brewing is ready to begin pouring in earnest. With another weekend of positive reviews at Delray’s Old School Beerfest on April 21, founder Mike Halker has begun production at South County’s first commercial craft brewery.
“We’ll have our grand opening on May 12,” Halker said of his facility on High Ridge Road in Boynton Beach. “We’ll be brewing five types to start.”
Due South’s monthly production of 3,500 gallons is barely a drop compared to voluminous Bud or Corona, but Halker is confident he can win over anyone who likes his beer with a little TLC. A caramel cream ale has been testing well, but Halker said Due South’s Category IPA (India Pale Ale) also is going down nicely and hoppier Cat 4 and 5 versions are on the way.
A firm believer in the social benefits of beer and brewing, Halker also will pour samples from other craft brewers at the open house. To handle the demand, the 1,000-square-foot bar area is now stocked with samplers, 12-ounce short pour glasses, and a newly arrived shipment of 1,000 pints. For details on the open house, go to www.duesouthales.com.
Closer to Boynton’s center, another surprise: Cuthill’s Backyard. The mailing address, 511 NE Fourth St., is more like an alley, half a block west of Federal along the railroad tracks. As the website suggests, “Look for the green lite palms.”
Formerly home to Tiki Tavern, it’s pretty much an outdoor bar, with misting fans, a sizeable parking lot, a stage, lots of tables, beach sand and a kitchen in a glistening Airstream trailer.
But before you think greasy bar food, consider that all the food is fresh and locally grown. The Kobe beef sliders (3 for $13) are certified Kobe. The sesame seared tuna steak ($15) is brought in daily.
The stage stays busy with music just about daily. Recent acts included Grateful Dead tribute band Crazy Fingers, Allman Brothers tribute band The Marshall Brothers with special guest Mike Allman (Greg’s son) and country star Amber Leigh.
But the mysterious R.H. Cuthill has bigger plans. Out front on Federal in a small storefront, he plans a fine-dining restaurant. To the north of the bar, he plans a wine bar, a Mexican restaurant and a country-western dance hall.
Down on East Ocean Avenue, the old Ruth Jones cottage has survived its six-block move and, if all goes as planned, will open in mid-June as The Little House that city officials hope will revive the downtown area. Chrissy Benoit, who opened Havana Hideout in Lake Worth, signed the lease on April 16. She plans a back-to-basics menu with prices under $10 and lots of draft beers.
Let’s not forget the raucous Old Key Lime House, nestled along the Intracoastal’s western shore on Lantana’s Ocean Avenue. Owner Wayne Cordero needs more room and wants to enlarge his parking lot by about 50 spaces on a lot he owns to the immediate west.
But that property, about one-third acre with a house built in the 1920s, is zoned residential. The Lantana Town Council seems inclined to rezone it, as do some of the Old Key Lime House’s neighbors, who also are urging the town to make empty lots on North Lake Drive available for parking. To arguments that the house was “historical,” Cordero countered that it was “hysterical” and in bad shape. He assured council members that he would not enlarge his building or add seating (now limited to 318).
Tight squeeze for Benny’s on the Beach. By a 3-2 vote the City Commission extended for 10 more years the lease for the café and bait shop on the Lake Worth pier. Under the previous lease, Benny’s paid the city 7.5 percent of its gross revenue, about $185,000 a year. The new lease gives the city a flat $240,000 a year. Suzanne Mulvehill and Christopher McVoy argued that it should be put out to bid but were outvoted.
In Delray, the new Sandbar Rhum Shack outdoor bar on the south side of Boston’s on the Beach opened with SRO on Friday the 13th. Not a blade of grass in sight nor any weeds, for that matter — the entire area is covered with packed sand that, unlike the beach variety across the street, is not supposed to blow away, wash away or stick like glue.
“It’s kind of an adult sandbox,” GM Tom Walsh said with a smile, noting it’s only for the 21-and-over crowd. “If people want a big meal, they can eat inside and then come out.”
A limited snack menu will be offered, and patrons can build their own mojitos or whet their whistles with 12 draft beers or two dozen bottled varieties.
A small stage will accommodate low-key entertainers, who, as with the food, will not compete with the action inside Boston’s. When necessary, guests can avail themselves of new restrooms, labeled “Inboard” and “Outboard.”
The line of students hoping to get a seat in the gym at Florida Atlantic University stretched across the main road then snaked back and forth across the lawn next to the student center. Those who finally made it inside to see and hear President Barack Obama were mostly enthusiastic, unusually polite for college students and unbelievably patient. Applause greeted anyone with a suit who entered the arena from beneath the giant flag, even the White House staffer who attached the presidential seal to the front of the lectern.
On one wall hung a banner emblazoned with “An America Built To Last,” a presidential goal that could have been borrowed from a Ford commercial or possibly from a Grateful Dead album. The crowd didn’t applaud it, but they did give FAU President Mary Jane Saunders a big hand as she noted that FAU, the most diverse of Florida’s universities “looks like America.” They clapped for Student Government President Ayden Maher as he led the Pledge of Allegiance and for sophomore Rebecca Guillaume after her rousing Star Spangled Banner.
No special treatment, by the way, for FAU trustees such as Tom Workman, Anthony Barbar and Dave Feder, who were squeezed into a corner of the bleachers behind the stage. Recently retired football coach Howard Schnellenberger also had a bleacher seat, directly behind the president, where he snapped lots of photos on his cellphone.
Obama urged congressional support for increased student assistance and for his proposed “Buffett rule” — no connection with Jimmy. He made one sweep around the gym, hand-to-hand with hundreds leaning over the barriers and then barely an hour later he was gone.
The presidential visit was the first to FAU since Lyndon Johnson helped dedicate the school in 1964. (Coincidentally, one person who shook LBJ’s hand was 19-year-old University of Miami student Bill Moss, the West Palm Beach city commissioner who died March 28.) Yet, surprisingly, no one knows why or how the White House picked FAU.
FAU’s University Relations office speculated that it was convenient, almost on a straight line from his fund-raising stop in Palm Beach Gardens to another at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood and finally at a private home in Golden Beach. But nothing definite.
When the White House was queried, staffer Joanne Rosholm sent this reply: “It’s not entirely uncommon that we would pick a place like FAU that can hold a large number of people who want to see their President speak. Beyond that, I don’t know that there’s much more to say!”
So there …
On the road again … Michelle Bernstein, just departed as executive chef at The Omphoy in Palm Beach, is headed back to the Palm Beaches from her Miami nest, but only for one night. Bernstein, who hosts Check, Please!, the restaurant review show on WPBT-Channel 2, has expanded her repertoire to include road trips.
On May 15, 150 guests paying $125 each, will visit five restaurants in Boca. After appetizers at Sushi Rock on Yamato Road, the group will board buses for stops at Josephine’s, Bogart’s, Casa D ‘Angelo and The Tin Muffin Café. Co-hosting with Bernstein will be popular radio host and vintner Paul Castronovo. Proceeds support production of the show. To sign up, go to wpbt2.org.
Smart cookies. And tough. No better way to describe Rena Blades and Cynthia Allen Gracey, who received Women In Leadership awards at the Kravis Center May 3. Presented by the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, the awards recognize women who have distinguished themselves as professionals, as leaders and as community servants.
As CEO of the Palm Beach County Cultural Council, now based in Lake Worth, Blades is well-known throughout the county for overseeing the council’s unprecedented growth, securing new funding, expanding services and strengthening cultural organizations.
On the other hand, Gracey, who lived in Delray before moving recently to Palm Beach, has worked in the background for more than three decades to empower women. Despite dealing with CMT, a chronic neuromuscular disorder, she has practiced law, raised two sons, been a caregiver to her parents. Oh, yeah, and to raise consciousness and create a supportive network where women could feel safe, share experiences and grow together, she also helped found Executive Women. A fitting résumé for the group’s Inspirational Leadership Award.
Terri Cooper (left) of Delray Beach samples the bouquet of her friend Michael Budd’s wine during the Fifth Annual American Fine Wine Competition at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on April 19. Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star
What a party! Overflow crowd. Shari Gherman, president of the American Fine Wine Competition had to add two tables — for 20 last-minute oenophiles — in the Grand Ballroom at the Boca Raton Resort & Club’s Mizner Center. Alan Kalter, with a week off from announcing for David Letterman, kept the crowd informed. Saxman Dayve Stewart and The Vibe rocked the 400-plus guests at $310 each, plus whatever they spent at auction.
Bam! Emeril Lagasse put on a show as he prepared roasted filet mignon, brown butter gulf blue crabmeat, local mushroom fondu, spring field peas and black truffle butter sauce. Bam!
At auction, Theodore Bryant bid $15,000 for a dream dinner to be prepared at his home by several top area chefs, which helped bring the tally to $60,000 for Diabetes Research Institute and the Golden Bell Education Foundation.
Since it is the American Fine Wine Competition, there were winners: The 2009 Castello di Amorosa Il Passito Reserve Late Harvest Semillon, North Coast and 2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge, were judged the best white and red, from more than 600 entries.
Pity the judges. A lot of sipping, spitting and rinsing for the 25 experts who spent two days at a hotel sampling the 600 candidates in 12 categories.
“They lock you up in a room and you try wine for two days, flight after flight,” said judge Stephanie Miskew, whose Glamorous Gourmet blog is found at www.stephaniesavorsthemoment.blogspot.com. “The split us into groups of four judges. We tried all the wines in our group, made our notes and then got together and tried to come to an agreement.
“You definitely need to pace yourself.”
But late into the second day, as the judges drew closer to consensus, the tension began to dissolve. “There definitely was more sipping than spitting,” she said.
Achievement Centers board member Barbara Murphy (right) of Gulf Stream watches the fashion show with Katherine Montana and John Lofquist, both of Delray Beach, during the Proper Affair runway show at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on April 18. Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star
A day earlier, 350 guests had a Proper Affair at the Boca Resort. But instead of tête-à-tête, the night was devoted to prêt à porter, as they bought raffle tickets, vied for silent auction items and bid on high-end fashions from Boston Proper that were modeled by spirited volunteers.
The local grass-roots project raised $160,000 for the Achievement Centers for Children and Families, a Delray Beach foundation that supports 700 low-income children.
Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at email@example.com.