Kapow! replacing Longboards in downtown West Palm Beach

Updated Sept. 1
Longboards, the surf-themed restaurant and bar in downtown West Palm Beach, closed unexpectedly this week after five years of serving up fresh seafood and good vibes to the 500 block of Clematis Street. In its place, according to reliable sources, the veteran restaurateurs who own the building and neighboring Hullabaloo restaurant plan to open a second location of their successful Asian street-food concept, Kapow!

The Longboards closing announcement posted on Facebook.
The Longboards closing announcement posted on Facebook.

A message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page by the Sub-Culture Group says the owners “decided to close this chapter with Longboards and bring you another new, exciting concept to be unveiled soon.” According to reliable sources, however, the restaurant going into 519 Clematis St. won’t be entirely unique. Look for a new, expanded outpost of Kapow! Noodle Bar, a mainstay in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park since late 2011.
* Official sites: Longboards on Facebook | Sub-Culture.org
* Related: Goodbye Grub: Longboards closes on Clematis Street (The Palm Beach Post)
Aug. 9 update: Longboards closes to become second Kapow! location (New Times)
Sept. 1 update: Follow the progress on the Kapow WPB Facebook page

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sub-Culture Group honcho Rodney Mayo has been considering bringing Kapow! to Clematis Street since at least May 2012, when he was planning the opening of Hullabaloo (see story). The cozy artisan food and craft cocktail den, which launched just to the east of Longboards at 517 Clematis St. in January 2013, has been a smash success for the owners and chef Fritz Cassel. Hullabaloo has won numerous awards, acclaim, and high-profile exposure thanks to cheerleaders such as Emeril Lagasse, who featured the cutting-edge eatery on Emeril’s Florida on the Cooking Channel.
Atomic Grog past coverage
* Hullabaloo brings inventive craft cocktails to Clematis Street

 Longboards operated as a surf-themed restaurant and bar in downtown West Palm Beach from July 2011 through July 2016. (Facebook photo)
Longboards operated as a surf-themed restaurant and bar in downtown West Palm Beach from July 2011 through July 2016. (Facebook photo)

Longboards, by comparison, was a disappointment. While it was immaculately themed to surf culture and featured fresh seafood and an inviting atmosphere, the restaurant never caught on in a big way. When we visited last Thursday evening, less than a week before it closed its doors, it was nearly empty while Hullabaloo was bustling with diners and Clematis club crawlers happily consuming the creative food and high-end spirits. We sampled some impressive Tiki cocktails recently added to the Longboards menu, but the writing was apparently already on the wall.

With a much larger footprint (nearly 4,000 square feet, compared to Hullabaloo’s 1,700), Longboards had an uphill struggle with a lower-priced menu and a niche (seafood and a beachy theme) that could be attached to many other area eateries. Not that Mayo and his team didn’t find much success and high points over the past five years. Opening on July Fourth weekend in 2011, Longboards took over the long-vacant room that many old-timers and local music fans will remember as the site of Ray’s Downtown Blues bar from 1995 to 2007.
Atomic Grog past coverage
* Clematis Street rides a new wave with the opening of LongBoards
* Surf’s up: The story behind LongBoards

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Summer of rum: South Florida hotspots give cool spirit a chance to shine

Updated Aug. 16, 2014

Several of the area’s most respected cocktail bars are embracing rum this summer, giving the sometimes maligned spirit its moment in the sun and providing guests with a jolt of bold and sweet flavors to match the season’s sizzling intensity.

Perhaps spurred by the success of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and a growing respect by mixologoists and serious drinkers, rum is poised to break away from its stereotypical niche and reach a broader audience. It’s the prefect fun summer spirit, and it offers many ways to enjoy its versatility.

See below: Kapow UPDATE | Dada | The Mai-Kai | Miami

Bar Stache welcomes an array of rums, brand mixologists for special events

Don Q rum event at Bar Stache

Bar Stache in Fort Lauderdale is offing the most ambitious summer events, dubbed Rum Takeovers. They kicked off July 9 with a Rhum Clément tasting and drink demo by Nick Nistico. Then on July 23, Ron Zacapa from Guatemala was featured along with artesian cocktails by Brijette De Berardinis. Aug. 6: brought Brugal from the Dominican Republic, presented by Bar Stache mixologist Brian Sassen. On Aug. 13, Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami brought some of his signature cocktails featuring Mount Gay Rum, joining brand ambassador Karlene Palmer-McLeod.

These Wednesday night tastings (from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.) feature not only some of the top rum brands in the world, but also include cocktails created by special guest mixologists who will also answer questions about each brand. RSVP to vip@stacheftl.com.

Here’s the current schedule (as of Aug. 16):

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Innovative watering holes fuel rise of craft cocktails in Palm Beach County

The craft cocktail scene in Palm Beach County has come a long way in a very short time. No longer must residents trek south to Fort Lauderdale or Miami to get a wildly creative adult beverage skillfully made by talented mixologists.

Nowhere is this recent explosion more evident than in a list of the Ten Best Bars for Cocktails in Palm Beach County published this week on the food blog Clean Plate Charlie on the Broward/Palm Beach New Times website. Only one of the 10 existed before 2009, a testament to the impact these establishments have had on the local food and drink scene.

The Dead Ringer cocktail (Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime, Dandelion & Burdock Bitters, plum bitters) at Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Boynton Beach
The Dead Ringer cocktail (Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime, Dandelion & Burdock Bitters, plum bitters) at Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Boynton Beach. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2013)

While such lists are always subjective, I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with writer Nicole Danna’s top picks. I’ve been singing the praises of Sweetwater Bar & Grill (No. 1), Kapow! Noodle Bar (No. 2), and Hullabaloo (No. 4) for the past several years.

And I’m eager to check out No. 3 on the list, HMF, which is technically a new venue (est. in late 2012) but is housed in The Breakers, Palm Beach’s historic hotel originally built by railroad pioneer Henry Morrison Flagler (aka “HMF”) in 1896. The grand hotel’s main bar was re-imagined as a swank cocktail den inspired by mid-century style, classic cocktails and delicious small bites (it was featured in an episode of Emeril’s Florida on the Cooking Channel).

The other three joints are a bit more accessible to the Average Joe, but they all offer spectacular food and drinks that are far from pedestrian. Sweetwater, which opened in 2009, remains my second favorite spot in all of South Florida to indulge in those pleasures (trailing only a certain 57-year-old Polynesian palace in Fort Lauderdale). The food menu may be small, but ingredients are always fresh and the dishes decadent and delicious. I can’t get enough of the tacos (pork or fish), sliders (beef or bison) and flatbreads.

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A Taste Of … Dada in Delray Beach

This is the first in a series of profiles of some of The Atomic Grog’s favorite spots in South Florida to enjoy events, music, art, cocktails and culture. Our first stop is an eclectic restaurant that for more than a decade has seamlessly merged all of the aforementioned elements in a cool historic setting along with some great food from an award-winning chef.

Dada in Delray Beach

March 2014 update: Dada embraces rum with new cocktail menu

It’s difficult to find a truly unique restaurant experience in this age of cookie-cutter chain eateries and independents that feel the need to follow every trend. But tucked into a vintage 1920s house just off Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach is Dada, a one-of-a-kind experience that’s a true feast for all the senses.

Built in 1924, with the second story added 1939, the Tarrimore house was restored around 1990 with plans for it to become a bed and breakfast. But when that fell through, it became a cozy restaurant (the acclaimed Damiano’s) in 1992. The Damiano family sold the restaurant in 1999 and Dada opened in 2000.

Dada is perhaps the most distinctive and successful restaurant to spring from the partnership of owners Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich. Their South Florida ventures include Kapow! Noodle Bar in Boca Raton, Howley’s diner in West Palm Beach, and the Dubliner Irish pub in Boca Raton. A new Dubliner is set to open in Fort Lauderdale in March. Mayo also has a hand in Tryst in Delray Beach, Longboards and Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach, plus nightspots such as Respectable Street in West Palm Beach and The Vagabond in Miami. There are 14 ventures in total that you can find on his Sub-Culture website.

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Hullabaloo jazzes up Clematis Street with inventive craft cocktails

Tonight is the grand opening of Hullabaloo, the new gastropub and craft cocktail bar in downtown West Palm Beach, but the party started early with a sneak preview for invited guests last night that definitely put the staff to the test.

Previous story: Hullabaloo to raise a ruckus in downtown West Palm Beach with gastropub food, craft beverages

The bar and kitchen staff serve the growing crowd during Hullabaloo's special preview party on Thursday, Jan. 24
The bar and kitchen staff serve the growing crowd during Hullabaloo’s special preview party on Thursday, Jan. 24. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The small 1,700-square-foot space in the 500 block of Clematis Street that was formerly home to The Lounge was packed to the gills for most of the night as the many friends and associates of owners Rodney Mayo and Jon Elu enjoyed free drinks and small bites. One guest described it as “The Lounge meets Kapow,” which is as accurate a description as any. The owners have taken the somewhat generic Lounge format and jazzed it up with a creative food and drink menu, just as Mayo and his partners did at the cozy spot in Boca Raton that houses Kapow! Noodle Bar.

Guests at Hullabaloo were greeted last night by classic jazz and ragtime music performed on keyboards by a solo musician just outside the front door. The music was also piped into the bar, complementing the vintage vibe. Within hours, the party had spread to the half-dozen tables on the sidewalk.

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Hullabaloo to raise a ruckus in downtown West Palm Beach with gastropub food, craft beverages

Update/review: Hullabaloo brings inventive craft cocktails to Clematis Street

It’s tough to come up with a unique and exciting concept in today’s bar and restaurant scene, where new establishments continually push the creativity envelope, and patrons have seen just about everything. But leave it to South Florida nightlife kingpin Rodney Mayo to move the bar even higher.

Hullabaloo

Imagine walking into a small, dark space that evokes a New York City loft. It’s simple, clean and dark, illuminated only by candles and low lighting. Huge red-and-black leather booths span one wall, with reproductions of 1940s-era Eames chairs scattered about. Dead rock stars such as Freddy Mercury and Jim Morrison stare eerily from framed black-and-white photos. The sound of ’30s and ’40s jazz fills the air, while the smell of Italian-influenced gastropub food crafted in a wood-burning oven wafts throughout the room. Patrons sip craft beer, wine, coffee and unique cocktails. Welcome to Hullabaloo.

Like its name implies, Hullabaloo is poised to cause a commotion. Mayo and his managing partners will introduce Hullabaloo – located at 517 Clematis St. in downtown West Palm Beach – with a grand opening party next Friday (Jan. 25) from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. There will be a private, invitation-only party on Thursday, Jan. 24. “We’re going to have a ragtime band play at the opening,” Mayo says. He also promises complimentary beverages and food tastings.

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Take 5: Rodney Mayo, guiding light of South Florida’s indie entertainment scene

To say the South Florida nightclub and restaurant scene would be a much more bland and boring place without Rodney Mayo would be a great understatement. From humble beginnings in 1987 at his Respectable Street Cafe in downtown West Palm Beach to today’s empire of 13 hip bars and eateries with more in the works, Mayo has been at the forefront of South Florida’s growth of independent, wildly creative nightspots.

Respectable Street 25th anniversary party

He’ll be celebrating his 25th year in business on Aug. 25 when Respectable Street hosts its annual block party on Clematis Street. The event will feature four stages and 25 bands, including punk legends The Misfits. The entire event is free and also will feature an open bar from 8 to 9 p.m. at participating clubs. We’ll have more updates as the event approaches, or check Respectable Street’s Facebook page.

We caught up with the reclusive Mayo recently at his latest project, the Hullabaloo gastropub, set to open this summer across from Respectable Street in the old Lounge space. Adjourning next door to his surf-themed Longboards restaurant, we posed these five questions:

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New downtown West Palm Beach gastropub to feature small bites, craft cocktails

UPDATES
* Hullabaloo brings inventive craft cocktails to Clematis Street
* Hullabaloo to raise a ruckus in downtown West Palm with gastropub food, craft beverages

A new dining and drinking option will soon be emerging on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, featuring both delicious, gourmet small plates and high-quality adult beverages.

Next to Longboards (left), the space formerly occupied by The Lounge will soon become Hullabaloo
Next to Longboards (left), the space formerly occupied by The Lounge will soon become Hullabaloo. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Hullabaloo promises “wood-fired grub,” a charcuterie, craft cocktails, and artesian beer. The “coming soon” sign at 517 Clematis beckons you to “drink, eat, raise some ruckus.” When it opens this summer, it will take over the small space adjoining Longboards, formerly occupied by The Lounge.

And there are other exciting plans for the 500 block of Clematis, as we found out last night after touring the future Hullabaloo and talking to owner Rodney Mayo. He and partner Scott Frielich have assembled an impressive portfolio of cutting-edge dining spots (Longboards, Kapow! Noodle Bar, Dada, Tryst, The Dubliner, Howley’s), and Hullabaloo looks to be yet another distinctly original concept. (Mayo’s brother, Michael, will also be on board as a part-owner and manager.)

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Kapow! in Boca cooks up noodles, cocktails, edgy artwork

Review: Kapow! explodes onto South Florida dining and cocktail scene
Related: Take 5: Artist Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli

Boca Raton’s trendy Mizner Park may never be the same. Restaurant/nightclub impresarios Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich have joined forces with Pizza Fusion founder Vaughan Lazar for a fresh concept that combines tasty Asian street food with hand-crafted drinks and a social conscience.

Mayo and Frielich are known for such cutting-edge eateries as Dada, Tryst, The Dubliner, Howley’s, and Longboards. Lazar pioneered the concept of organic and eco-conscious pizza with Pizza Fusion.

Kapow! is inspired by New York City noodle bars featuring communal Asian comfort food with a gastro-style influence.
The menu will feature “fresh and sustainable” pan-Asian noodles and dim sum items plus craft cocktails in a edgy atmosphere. Much of that edge has been provided by South Florida artist Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli, who painted an incredible mural that spans one entire wall.

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