From Elizabeth Ave. Station’s opening in the warehouse district to the several new restaurants Clematis Street welcomed this past year, West Palm Beach is experiencing a steady growth of local businesses.
Ambitious business owners are seeking a growing market, and it seems West Palm Beach has the means to deliver.
One success story involves a “boutique butcher shop” and a timely multi-business warehouse project.
Bradley Grace of Grace’s Fine Foods moved to Florida from New York to open a sausage shop in the West Palm Beach market. When he caught word of the warehouse district’s newest real estate opportunity, Grandview Public Market, he decided to open up shop there.
“This is only our second day. We’ve been doing good,” Grace said on Wednesday.
Florida’s biodiversity and local farms have been catching the eyes of local restaurant owners like Grace.
“Florida is a really biodiverse state, but we don’t really think that way. Chefs are starting to go to places like that, and Florida happens to be one of those places,” Grace said. “So I came back here, and when I heard about Grandview I figured this would be a really great place to start my business. There’s a lower overhead, and the constant flow of people.”
Grandview Public Market operates like a small shopping mall, hosting mainly restaurants (namely Celis Produce, Rabbit Coffee Roasting Co. and Zipitos) as well as a couple small retail shops. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, all decorated with trendy modern decor while keeping a warehouse feel, Grandview has been attracting crowds even before their official grand opening.
“In a setting like this, we’re building each other up,” Grace said. “We all want success, no one wants to best anyone else. That being said, we’re all respectful of each other’s menus. For example, if Claire’s has a burger on the menu, I’m not going to run a burger or directly try to compete with them.”
Local businesses are learning to work with the seasonal market that South Florida is known for.
“It’s a snowbird kind of area,” Grace said. “I think now with the more chef-driven restaurants that are happening, yeah, there’s definitely more competition because there’s more talent down here than there’s ever been.”
The West Palm Beach business scene has even attracted international attention.
Loic Autret, a French baker, left his original Delray Beach bakery to explore the West Palm Beach market. He and his wife recently opened the doors to Loic Bakery Cafe Bar on Hibiscus Avenue, and the local project has been a success so far.
Gabi Bondor, one of Loic’s co-owners and investors, sees a promising future for the shop.
“We feel like West Palm is up-and-coming,” Bondor said. “We have a lot of high rises, which really wasn’t the situation back in the day when we only had mansions and family homes. The condo setup is changing the landscape for younger generations to come and rent here.”
Bondor is Hungarian and currently resides in New York City, although she spends some amount of time in South Florida to work with the Autrets.
When asked about her interest in a Floridian market as opposed to a European location, Bondor reflected on Miami’s business boom over the years.
“We felt like downtown West Palm Beach is going through a similar development to what Miami went through in the ‘80s, the Fort Lauderdale and Delray, and now Downtown West Palm,” Bondor said.
Loic is located on the first floor of the City Palms building at 480 Hibiscus St. Because of the location, the bakery attracts many City Palms residents as well as Palm Beach Atlantic University students.
Bondor says Loic Bakery’s success will rely mainly on locals, varying from the tourist-saturated ways of Clematis Street.
“When we have someone come through the door, we have to make sure it’s an experience and the experience results in a returning customer,” Bondor said.
In addition to restaurant growth, Clematis Street is looking to up their retail game.
As reported by the Department of Downtown Development’s online blog, “A Guy On Clematis,” the city has proposed a plan to fund 12 small retail pop-ups for 12 months.
Since the opening of City Place, Clematis Street has seen a decline in retail shopping overall. The city’s proposal, deemed the “12 x 12 Pop-Up to Rent” plan, is funded by a $180,200 grant won from the Knight Foundation and is designed to revitalize the shopping activity on the strip.
“It won’t be pizza, vape, or coffee shops,” West Palm Beach Economic Development Director
Chris Roog told Aaron Wormus, a writer for “A Guy On Clematis.”
It seems the overall goal is to diversify Clematis Street, creating an environment suitable for small businesses of all types to thrive in.
“We want to add a different type component and retailer to the street,” Roog said.
Because of this plan, locals can expect to see more retail pop-ups on Clematis in the coming months.