Hollywood Beach Restaurateurs Sound Off on Margaritaville
Even on a blistering August weekday, a healthy flow of people struts up and down the Broadwalk, the paved pedestrian walkway that lines Hollywood Beach. There's a strand of blue-collar businesses to the west and wide-open sand and waves to the east.
CandaceWest.com Nick's at night.
Walking down the strip is a pair of girls with purple-and-pink-dyed hair in skimpy bikinis whose bellies jiggle with each step they take toward the shade. Twenty-something bros in Spy sunglasses and flowered board shorts walk slowly, dragging their Reef sandals.
Around lunchtime, much of the restaurants' outdoor seating is empty. Near Buchanan Street at Hollywood Grill, an Armenian and Russian restaurant, workers sit four across at a table on the far edge of the sidewalk near the front door. They stare out over the Broadwalk as a towel-wrapped family of tourists speaking Italian pauses to look at the menu. It plies pickled herring with potatoes, lamb kebabs, and a platter of cured beef tongue and basturma, an Eastern European cured meat that's heavily salted and seasoned with cumin, fenugreek, garlic, and paprika. Yet the family slinks instead to a nearby bar advertising "The World's Best Bloody Mary."
As you near Johnson Street, the quiet din of a faraway hydraulic drill grows to a low roar. Only a few hardhat-wearing construction workers walk around the dusty, gravelly site that in about three years will be transformed into Margaritaville, a manufactured, Caribbean-influenced resort hideaway inspired by Jimmy Buffett's beach-bum brand.
Developer Lon Tabatchnick, who's partnering with hotel giant Starwood Capital on the project, finally took control of city-owned land in early July after securing $80 million toward the $147 million project. He's signed a 99-year lease on the waterfront property and is to pay $1 million a year for the life of the lease. The city is kicking in $23 million and expects to bring in about $1.9 billion over the lifetime of the deal. Work was supposed to kick off in March, but hurdles in financing and permitting forced developers to at least twice delay construction.