Just Hatched: Openings Around the State
Debuts to Peruse
Jake Michaelis always dreamed of owning a men’s store that reflected his Southern roots. That dream became reality on March 30th, when he and his friends, John and Laurie Lecker, opened the doors to JJ Cooper on downtown Centre Street in his hometown of Fernandina. The store’s rustic, refined décor features an Edison bulb chandelier, contemporary oil paintings of mallards and bucks by artist Bradley Gordon and custom wooden clothing racks by local craftsmen. JJ Cooper, named after its three founders, carries upscale, relaxed clothing and accessories for both the sportsman and the social gent with brands like Filson, Bugatchi, Fish Hippie, Smathers & Branson, Lucchese Boots and Moore & Giles leather goods.
Bathing beauties on the Emerald Coast just gained a store full of new beach-chic looks to fawn over. Ophelia Swimwear owner Tori Von Hoene has added a third location to her popular group of luxury swim boutiques: Sandestin at Grand Boulevard. More than bikinis and cover-ups, the modern shop, finished in sleek white and gold, offers clothing that transitions easily from sand to soirée. “This store is the perfect match for the elegant and trendsetting woman,” Von Hoene says. In addition to swimwear, the specialty store carries beach bags, hats, shoes, and accessories—including brands like Beach Riot, Vitamin A and Faithfull the Brand. opheliaswimwear.com
3 PALMS GRILLE
Ponte Vedra Beach
Overlooking a pretty golf course lake in the famous Sawgrass neighborhood, sits 3 Palms Grille, the American eatery that feels like a modern club house. Forget the dark leather chairs and cigar smoke of yesteryear’s golf club—clean lines, an open floor plan and large windows usher bright, natural light into the space, which opens onto a vast outdoor patio. Chef favorites include the truffled deviled eggs, grilled octopus, steak burger, local fresh catch, and vegetarian quiche du jour. To quench a post-golf thirst, take a shot at the 19th hole happy hour and catch some live music while reliving—or trying to forget—those drives, chips and putts.
Obscura is the first brick-and-mortar store for the Florida-made design house Yield, known for its handcrafted gifts and housewares like fine canvas bags and copper and ceramic cups and bowls. Founders Andrew Deming and Rachel Gant have painstakingly curated the store’s collection, and the result is a funky mix of their brand’s sharp products and some of their favorite designers from near and far. The wide-ranging selection is unified by a focus on quality craftsmanship and thoughtful production. Whether made in St. Augustine or beyond, all products are ethically produced.
THE BLUE HALO
The capital city has a heavenly new dining star. Blu Halo chefs began plating their first entrees last fall, transforming the Tallahassee culinary scene with signature items like The Chief, a dry-aged bone-in ribeye; a fresh seafood tower; and quarterly wine dinners. A circular bar with a curtain of crystals anchors the dining room, casting up a giant cobalt blue halo. Behind the bar, mixologists put a chill on any cocktail by using liquid nitrogen to create a boozy ice cream confection. Inspired by restaurants in Miami and Vegas, owner Keith Paniucki wants people to feel like they are somewhere spectacular. thebluhalo.com
THE RAVENOUS PIG
James and Julie Petrakis opened their first restaurant, The Ravenous Pig, ten years ago, in the hope of bringing the gastropub movement (think: casual atmosphere, excellent food) to Central Florida. Fast forward to today, and it’s clear the multiple-time James Beard nominees were on to something with their seasonal, ever-changing menu. Not only are they running three other culinary destinations, including their most recent fast-casual endeavor, The Polite Pig in Disney Springs, but they also moved their original brainchild into a rebooted space this past December. One side touts a casual bar serving craft cocktails and beers from their in-house brewery, while the other provides a more upscale dining experience. “We wanted two levels of atmosphere and service in one location,” says James.
For Susie Wheldon, opening the clothing store Verve Boutique marked the beginning of a new chapter in her life—and a tribute to her late husband. Wheldon lost Dan, an IndyCar driver, in a 2011 racing accident. “I still get inspiration from him and I feel like he’s guiding me in this project,” explains Wheldon. “The timing was right.” She also wanted to set an example of a strong work ethic for her two sons. Verve, named for one of Dan’s favorite bands, had its grand opening in March and is nestled in St. Pete’s Edge District. Other than the mural of a lion (which pays homage to her husband’s racing nickname “Lionheart”) hanging on the wall, the space has a minimalistic feel, keeping the focus on clothes and customer service. Shop from an array of elevated street styles for men and women, from brands like Current Elliott, The Kooples, Hudson and McGuire Denim.
JACQUELINE’S BAKERY CAFE
When Jacqueline Dittmore and her husband Christophe Molitor relocated from Courbevoie, a city outside of Paris, to Melbourne, they arrived intending to start a French bakery. Before the move, Dittmore enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu for a Grand Diploma in cuisine and pastry and at Ferrandi for a certificate in artisan bread baking (a skill she eventually taught Christophe) to ensure their game plan went as smoothly—and as successfully—as possible. In July 2016, the doors to Jacqueline’s Bakery & Café opened. Dittmore makes artisan goods, like pain au chocolat, brioche, croque monsieur and quiche, from scratch. “At first, we weren’t sure if people would appreciate our place,” says Dittmore. “Now we’ve had people tell us our croissants and baguettes are the best they’ve ever had.” Local favorites include almond croissants, Napoleons, and kouign-amanns.
THE STEAMLINE HOTEL
On December 14, 1947, stock car racer Bill France Sr. held a meeting at The Streamline Hotel’s rooftop bar. The result? The birth of what’s known today as NASCAR. The iconic art deco hotel, built in 1939, reopened its doors this May after a three-plus year facelift thanks to Eddie Hennessy, its owner, and Anthony Melchiorri, the host of the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. The overhaul has reinvigorated the Atlantic Avenue property, making it a priority pit stop for racing fans and other Daytona visitors. The whimsical entrance greets guests with an 800-pound jellyfish tank that separates the lobby from Olivier’s Hideaway, a bar serving adult milkshakes spiked with moonshine. Meanwhile, on the roof’s Sky Lounge, soak up aerial views of the Atlantic Ocean while sipping on the signature Pit Crew Mule. streamlinehotel.com
HOUSE OF PASTEL
Lilly Jensen has permanently parked her European café, previously run out of a whimsical Volkswagen van named Elodie, by opening House of Pastel, a storefront for her adorable petite patisserie. The shop serves homemade macarons—the most popular flavors include Nutella, salted caramel, lavender and rose—and other scrumptious baked goods. Don’t let Jensen’s sweet exterior fool you—she has serious chops. She trained under renowned pastry chefs Ewald Notter and François Payard and worked in competitive kitchens throughout the country. “French macarons are my specialty, and there’s no place in the area that makes them fresh daily,” says Jensen. She frequently collaborates with customers for custom orders, and still takes Elodie the Van out as a pop-up boutique for parties.
Iconic Miami mixologist Julio Cabrera is shaking things up on Collins Avenue again, this time at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel—fresh from a $50 million renovation. The overhaul included a complete reimagining of its bar and restaurant, appropriately called Bar Collins in reference to the famed street running through the heart of South Beach. Cabrera is the mastermind behind the innovative cocktail menu, which overflows with Florida-inspired spirits like Hemingway’s Affairs. Beyond the bar, Chef Frederic creates the lounge’s locally-inspired bites (think Cuban pizzas and handcrafted seafood sausages), which are designed to help locals and hotel guests alike experience a taste of Iconic Miami. Dine al fresco or soak up the lively indoor atmosphere.
Nestled in Boca Raton’s bustling Mizner Park district, Parlour Vegan serves up a delectable collection of vegan confections and creations, from donuts and cupcakes to empanadas and pizza rolls. It’s the second location for the fast-rising bakery, which first opened in Plantation in 2015. Guests love to mingle on the bleacher-style seating and snap selfies beneath what has become the sweet spot’s signature landmark: a Dirty Dancing-style neon sign. Take a trip down memory lane with the nostalgic Dunkaroo cupcake or channel your inner Muggle with the Harry Potter-inspired butterbeer cupcake. They promise: You’d never know it’s vegan.
Chef David Nelson, a darling of the Naples food scene, is cooking up a culinary project on his home turf. Set to open this summer, Timeless Eatery aims to be the area’s first culinary marketplace, featuring a restaurant and a wine and beer lounge with indoor and outdoor seating. Adjoining Le Moulin Bakery and Bistro will treat guests to handcrafted baked goods starting at 6 a.m. Architect Matthew Kragh designed the “timeless” crisp, white structure, which is punctuated by a carefully curated selection of local art. Shop for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, such as artisan pizzas, farm-fresh salads and coal-fired New York-style bagels, hand-rolled right next door.
PASTURE & PEARL
If you’re in the mood for “a big fresh bowl of seafood and love,” order the lobster bouillabaisse at Pasture & Pearl, one of Sanibel Island’s newest upscale restaurants. Before opening the restaurant late last year, husband-and-wife team Elaine Dammeyer and Christian Jego spent nine years running a boutique hotel-and-restaurant in the South of France. The Florida menu concept is largely influenced by their time abroad, and because the menu is inspired by local organic meat, produce and seafood, it’s constantly changing based on what’s currently available.