Jewish, European, Latin Flavors Converge on Hallandale Beach Boulevard
"It's got to be the most boring, mundane street in South Florida," says Dr. Paul George, an oft-quoted Miami Dade College professor and historian, when I ask about Hallandale Beach Boulevard. "It's more a racetrack to the beach than anything else."
CandaceWest.com A busy morning at Sage Bagel.
It's true -- the first several hundred feet of Exit 18 off Interstate 95 offers concrete blight and strip mall after strip mall. Most buildings are set far back off the massive, three-lane road, which few pedestrians dare to cross, so it's almost impossible to see what's in most of the squat, beige or pale-yellow buildings besides big box stores.
This urban wasteland, however, offers a silver lining for a hopeful restaurateur.
"Rent was $2,000 more per month in Aventura," Falafel Benny owner Ben Regev bellows over the telephone. He opened his small shop earlier this year serving only the fried, ground-up spheres of chickpeas along with chicken schnitzel -- pounded thin and fried -- and shawarma inside an orange-beige building that's easy to miss while speeding by.
Zachary Fagenson Falafel pita at Falafel Benny.
"I used to do catering, and people loved it," Regev says. "I always said I'd open my own restaurant, even in a bad location."
Not only is rent affordable in Hallandale but Broward County's southernmost town also sits at a nexus between South Florida's myriad immigrant communities. To the south is Miami: Cubans, Colombians, and Venezuelans, all of whom are slowly pushing farther into suburbia. Toward the ocean lies Sunny Isles -- home to a growing Russian and Eastern European population. Just south of that is Aventura, with large Jewish and Israeli communities.
658 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach, FL
800 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach, FL