The hottest corner in Delray Beach: American Social, Polynesian eatery coming to downtown

The hottest corner in Delray Beach: American Social, Polynesian eatery coming to downtown

American Social Bar & Kitchen, or AmSo as it is known by its patrons, will open next year in the Pineapple Grove district, just north of Atlantic Avenue.

Three new restaurants will join Delray Beach’s sizzling downtown scene next year, landing on a section of Atlantic Avenue that’s becoming Main & Main for its lively eateries and bars.

American Social Bar & Kitchen, or AmSo as it is known by its patrons, will open next year in the Pineapple Grove district, just north of Atlantic Avenue.

In addition, Roka Hula, a new Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar by the company that owns Calaveras Cantina and Voodoo Bayou, will open in the former Taverna Opa space at 270 E. Atlantic Avenue.

Meanwhile, Ohio-based One Hospitality has taken over the space occupied by Salt7 at 32 S.E. 2nd Ave. While Salt7 remains open with the same name and a tweaked menu, the restaurant company plans to change the concept to a hip new brand next year.

These establishments will boost what already is becoming Delray Beach’s hottest corner: The intersection of Second Avenue and East Atlantic Avenue.

“We love this section of the Avenue,” said Reed Woogerd, managing partner of One Hospitality. “We’re all about synergy in the market and this neighborhood. And we want to give people a different flavor as they hop around and enjoy Atlantic Avenue.”

On any given night, revelers cluster in the area, drawn to buzzy places such as El Camino, The Office, Park Tavern and Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar.

The scene is making the avenue not only a place for fine dining but also a destination for young professionals. And AmSo and Roka Hula will only add to the vibe, said Jeff Sussman of Boca Raton-based Sussman Realty, which brokered both leases.

American Social will take up space formerly occupied by Meisner Electric in the Ocean City Lumber Company property, known for its distinctive water tower. The family behind Meisner Electric sold the property for $30 million in 2022 to an affiliate of Investments Limited in Boca Raton.

The 2.5-acre site is on the south side of N.E. 1st Street, from Railroad Avenue to N.E. 2nd Avenue.

The years-long hunt for a Delray Beach spot

Tony Mijares Jr., an American Social partner, said the company had searched for years for a downtown Delray Beach location without success.

This Pineapple Grove spot finally fit the bill not only for its large size but also for its location just off the crowded avenue and across the street from a city-owned garage where patrons will be able to park.

Mijares said he’s optimistic the American Social spot in Delray Beach will be as popular as its sister restaurants.

“It’s a draw,” Mijares said of the restaurant and bar, which welcomes patrons as family. “People like our concept and our atmosphere. Wherever we open, we get lots of action. And we believe Pineapple Grove is a nice, elegant area that is a great place to be.”

The location marks the second Palm Beach County location for American Social, which earlier this year opened in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. American Social also has locations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando.

Opportunity creates inspiration for Voodoo Bayou restaurateur

Curtis Peery of Roka Hula said he wasn’t necessarily looking to open a restaurant in downtown Delray Beach.

His company, True Grit Hospitality, already was busy with its Calaveras Cantina locations in Jupiter and Boca Raton as well as Voodoo Bayou, its popular Cajun food destination in Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale. A Voodoo Bayou location in Orlando also is under construction.

But when the Taverna Opa space became available, it was too good to pass up, Peery said.

Delray Beach already is bustling with Mexican eateries, so Peery decided to bring something different to the market.

His solution: A craft cocktail tiki bar with a Pan-Asian menu featuring items ranging from sushi to dumplings.

Plans are to transform the former Greek eatery space into a Polynesian-style getaway.

“We’re going to have a large bar with specialty liquors and a really neat ceiling filled with globes and botanicals and lanterns. It’s an awesome design with an element of escapism when you come inside the building,” Peery said.

Peery said he hopes to open by the end of 2024.

What’s in store for Salt7 in Delray Beach?

Then there’s Salt7, a swank steak place on the ground floor of the Worthing Place apartment building, just behind Worthing Park, at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and S.E. 2nd Avenue.

One Hospitality bought the Salt7 space in October, then redid the menu to add a greater variety of items, said Reed Woogerd, managing partner of One Hospitality’s Southeast expansion. Tom Prakas, a Boca Raton-based restaurant broker and an Ohio transplant, handled the transaction.

Woogerd said One Hospitality has been looking for a spot in South Florida for some time. When he and partners came to Delray Beach and surveyed the location, “We saw the opportunity to have a corner spot on Atlantic Avenue connecting us to Pineapple Grove, which is part of the thriving downtown,” Woogerd said. “It was a no-brainer for us.”

At first, plans were to bring Forno Kitchen+Bar, a One Hospitality Italian concept that helped galvanize the popular Short North district in Cincinnati, which Woogerd said is similar to Pineapple Grove.

But now Woogerd said the company still is deciding whether to bring Forno or a different concept to the avenue.

More: American Social eatery and bar coming to Boca’s Mizner Park

Woogerd said One Hospitality will evaluate the scene, talk to customers and other business owners, and devise the right concept for the Salt7 space next year. Woogerd, a seasoned restaurant operator who has opened eateries in California, Washington State and Texas, said he even moved to Delray Beach as part of One Hospitality’s expansion to Palm Beach County.

Whatever the company decides, “We see this corner right outside of Worthing Park as a place to make a beacon for our brand in South Florida,” Woogerd said.

Author: Alexandra Clough