Friend and South Florida Restauranteur Burt Rappaport recently finished his newest creation with James Beard award- winning chef Mark Militello. I sat down with him to chat about being a successful restaurant owner in Palm Beach County.
When and where did you open your first restaurant? Why South Florida?
In 1980 an opportunity came about to open a casual dining restaurant in Miami so I left Boston.
What restaurants do you own already?
Henry’s, Deck 84, Burt & Max’s and I’m a partner in Max’s Grille
You have three restaurants in Delray Beach, what makes this city so special?
It’s the best spot for restaurants. It has diverse clientele, people are friendly, it’s a vibrant city that gets better every year.
What’s the biggest challenge starting a restaurant here?
It’s like coming up to the plate with two strikes already. The concept and execution have to be almost perfect to survive.
With so much competition what’s your secret to success?
Company values. We live by them, train by them and they keep us focused on what is best for our customers.
I know you have restaurant partners like Dennis Max, do you have restaurant rivals?
We think of it more as a fraternity. We like to see everyone do well. I am impressed how well fellow restaurateurs come together for common causes.
On to your newest….Popular in the 90’s …Why bring Prezzo back to life?
I was amazed at how many people asked me to bring it back, and the time and location are right.
How did you come to work with Mark?
We have known each other for 30 years. He helped with menu development at Deck 84, and he wanted to be a part of Prezzo when he heard I was doing it.
What are some of the things that you think will make this a hot spot? Menu, ambiance, cocktails?
The same things that made it successful the first time. A warm and enthusiastic staff. The food is a combo of classic Italian dishes and fun and exciting selections. The restaurant will have a warm, welcoming, energizing feel.
Besides overseeing all your restaurants what do like to do in Delray Beach?
I like to start the day with a run on the beach. If the waves are good, I catch one.
Besides yours, what other place or places do you think do a good job in Delray?
El Camino, Cut 432, Luna Rosa, Max’s Harvest
I take one at a time.