Funny Story – West Palm Beach Rocks & Forbes knows it!

 

Moral of the story: Read to the end of the story, and  check the date on the article. No really please do!

So yesterday I woke up with an email in my inbox with a link to yet another article from Forbes that singled out West Palm Beach as the 4th “Most Depressing City” in the US.

My immediate reaction was…

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I kicked into gear and fired off an email to some of the most awesome West Palm Beachers I know asking what the deal was, and whether the numbers that Forbes was using were accurate. This triggered a 20-email chain between them discussing all the great things about West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County.

Things like:

PBC is the #1 Real Estate Turnaround Market

turnaround

June had an unemployment rate of 7.5%

According to the BDB June  is the 6th consecutive month that the unemployment rate of Palm Beach County has fallen beneath the national average.

West Palm Beach business is booming

And I have bullet points to prove it!

  • There were 17,979 advertised job openings in Palm Beach County in June 2013
  • More than 100 new businesses opened in West Palm Beach’s downtown district since 2009
  • $40 Million direct investment in the Clematis District
  • In the past year, more than 150,000 square feet of new business leases have been announced at CityPlace
  • Over 25 exciting events like Fourth on Flagler, SunFest, Soulfest, Moonfest, Taste of Palm Beach and the Palm Beach International Boat Show attract more than 500,000 visitors to West Palm Beach each year
  • Events like the Cityplace Christmas Tree break records with over 20,000 residents coming out.

I even went out and got a picture of the West Palm Beach natives to prove that they are not depressed!!!

(Do these look like the faces of  the inhabitants of the 4th most depressed city in the US?)

Do these look like the faces of the inhabitants of the 4th most depressed city in the US?

Gathered even more evidence.

I sent out a tweet asking people what they liked about West Palm Beach and got an OVERWHELMING response. Comments on our culture, small town atmosphere, people, neighborhoods, walkability.

Yes, we truly live in an amazing place.

I set out to write an epic blog entry that would skewer Kurt Badenhausen, the reporter who “covers sports business with rare dip in education & local economies” and DARED to call us the “4th most miserable city in the US.”

I wordsmithed until midnight when exhausted, I set my alarm clock for a few hours of sleep and collapsed into bed.

Ring Ring Ring

I jumped out of bed at 5am, made a cup of coffee and grabbed my computer to finish off this most epic of blog entries. The first thing I saw was the DATE on Forbes’ article, it was February 2012!

The article I was reading was from last year!!!

I quickly google for the 2013 list of “Most Miserable Cities” to discover that… After two years in a top-10 spot for “Most Miserable Cities” West Palm Beach has dropped off the list entirely.

West Palm Beach is awesome! And Forbes agrees!!!

So here I am, wiping a bit of egg off my face, thanking everyone profusely for taking the time to respond to my (albeit misguided) call for help!

I think the responses that I got prove that despite being home to American’s most trigger happy blogger, West Palm Beach is an amazing place to live!

The things I love about West Palm Beach — big city events and culture while still retaining its small town appeal; I love my neighborhood of Flamingo Park; I love our waterfront; I love that I have a city government that is approachable and responsive; I love that I feel safe in my city; I love my hometown newspaper and news stations; I love the support that local non-profits and houses of worship receive in helping those in need; I love living in the sub tropics!

~ Margie DeFord Yansura

West Palm Beach has such diversity in culture and things to do. The restaurants are amazing and so many to choose from all up and down Clematis Street and in City Place. Cultural events, with music, art, movies,music venues and charity events. You can take the trolley or catch a horse driven carriage ride. Water fountains for the kids and free concerts every Thursday night. All on the water in the most fabulous weather you can imagine. You can dress up or wear shorts and flip flops. What’s not to love?

 ~ Pamela Stoyka Bishop

Do I have to tell you . I love our spectacular community events and our fabulous weather which allows us to celebrate 52 weeks a year. WPB….Where Paradise Begins!

~Mary Grafton Pinak

On Twitter we had everyone from Mayor Jeri Muoio to local business people, urbanists and bloggers weighing in

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks again for reading! And for your help letting everyone know why…

West Palm Beach Rocks

Have a great weekend, and I’m sure I’ll catch up with you on Clematis Street!

Aaron “aGuyonClematis” Wormus

“Serve a quality product and never, ever compromise” an Interview with Tim Gannon founder of PDQ

We heard about PDQ (stands for Pretty Darn Quick or People Dedicated to Quality) from one of our neighbors who had visited it and enjoyed it. We had just finished one of the kids afternoon soccer games and since we (Stella) weren’t looking forward to cooking we decided to swing by and check out the new chicken place on Okeechobee.

We were pleasantly surprised and it quickly took the place of that “other chicken place” on Palm Beach Lakes as our favorite casual place to get a delicious chicken sandwich!

PDQ brands themselves as a  friendly chicken-serving fast food casual restaurant. So far, PDQs has most of their  restaurants in Florida, with 3 locations in North Carolina. The  first PDQ restaurant officially opened on Sunday, October 30, 2011 across from Plant High School in Tampa, Florida.

Friendly Southern Look & Feel

PDQ is different right when you walk in. Big bright spaces, friendly staff, REALLY quick service, open kitchen and most importantly good food. Instead of focusing on just getting the food out quick, they have seperated themselves by a company-wide push on quality, cleanliness and service. One of the unique elements is their original “hand washing station” which is a big hit with the kids.

PDQ Hand Washing Station

PDQ Hand Washing Station

The founder of PDQ, seasoned restaurateur, Tim Gannon, also founded Outback and is the creator of the Blooming Onion, so when I got the chance to do an interview with him I jumped.

Here you go!

At what point did you know you had a hit on your hands?

I knew PDQ was a hit when I had done extensive research and the product and hospitality was consistently excellent. PDQ has hit a niche’ in its price point, food quality, hospitality and excellent ambiance. We have really taken the qualities of upscale dining and execute them in a fast casual atmosphere. PDQ is positioned to expand in the south Florida market as evidenced by the commitment of all of our team members! The excitement of PDQ is contagious within our organization and in our communities.

What is the story behind the Spicy Buffalo Tender sandwich?

Having developed the menu at Outback Steakhouse I am always looking for innovative ways to improve our menu. The “buffalo” flavor is very popular with our guest base so we decided to develop a unique recipe and combine it with our homemade Blue Cheese dressing. That is what is great about our menu…everything is homemade! Shortly after its introduction the Spicy Buffalo sandwich quickly catapulted up to practically match our most popular sandwich, the Crispy Chicken. What is also somewhat surprising is the female fan base we have created with this sandwich!

Are there any items that did not make the cut? Are there plans to expand the menu further?

We are constantly trying menu items but rest assured that we will always stay true to our founding principle of serving fresh food fast!! As with all successful organizations we will continue to challenge ourselves to make us better for each and every guest that comes through our doors. At this time there are no plans to expand the menu but there may be “specials” from time to time…we’ll keep you posted!!

What is unique about doing business in Florida, and is there any advice you would give to people who are starting up here?

The south Florida market is very unique in that people come here from all over the world and there is a large part of our population that is very health conscious. This forces us to be smart about our menu selections but at the same time allows us to be creative with our ingredient and recipe selections! That is what makes PDQ so fun and exciting!

As far as advice to anyone starting in this business, it would be to surround yourself with people who are passionate about not only great food but who understand genuine hospitality on a day-to-day basis. We are blessed to have, at all levels of our organization, folks who truly love what they do! When I walk into my restaurants I see the smiles and the energy and it’s contagious, believe me! I love to see people having fun at what they do.

You also have to serve a quality product and never, ever compromise on that quality to your guests… ever!!!

I hope you enjoyed the interview. Take some time to try out PDQ, if you really like it you can try to win FREE PDQ for 1 YEAR!!! You have to eat at PDQ 10 different times in the next 6 days (before the end of JULY 2013), but there’s still plenty of time! Go for it!

The Chapel by the Lake development is just too Big!

Note: In a dramatic 5 1/2 hour meeting on 7/16 this project was rejected by the planning board.

Dear Readers,

If you’re reading this I know that you care about downtown West Palm Beach. I want to take a few minutes to discuss the development on the Chapel by the Lake site that is going up for a vote with the West Palm Beach Planning Board tomorrow at 6pm.

I’m not an expert in zoning and there are many experienced people who will be speaking their minds at the meeting tomorrow. I am pretty good with pictures, so I scoured the internet and grabbed a couple pictures to show the history of this unique site.

This amazing set of photos from 1963 show what a unique vision the church had for this beautiful little chapel on the lake.

The Chapel by the Lake 1963

Anyone who has been to one of their sunrise services can attest to the peaceful magic of of the spot.

Easter Sunrise Service at a Chapel by the Lake in 2013

Several years after the city granted the church the rights to reclaim the land from the lake and the chapel was built, the plot directly adjacent to it wrangled the permitting and in 1972 the 19-floor Trianon was built.

It’s hard to describe how ugly the Trianon is, but let’s just put it this way: Name a building in West Palm Beach, and you’ll find at least five on my website. I just searched for Trianon and couldn’t find any; I had to pull one out of google maps.

19-Story Trianon on Flagler

19-Story Trianon on Flagler

Zip forward to 2013 and the First Baptist Church has found themselves with cash flow issues. There are buildings on the church site which need to be completely renovated before they can be used, and the money from the sale of the Chapel by the Lake site can finance much of the re-development.

Enter a developer who offers to solve the financial problems with the development of a high end 29-story building which will have 100 “full-service” condos starting at $4.5 million for a modest 5,000 sq/ft unit.

Developer rendering of the “Beast to the East”

This development will not add ANY value to our waterfront other than the expanded tax base. There will be no amenities other than those the residents can use, no nice restaurants that we can frequent. Much like Trianon, it will sit unused for eight months out of the year and cast a massive shadow onto the rest of our waterfront.

To put the massive size of this building into perspective, here’s a list of the other tall buildings in West Palm Beach and how they will size up to the “Beast to the East”

Beast to the East will be 90 ft taller than any other building in West Palm Beach

Beast to the East will be 90 ft taller than any other building in West Palm Beach

Notice how tall the neighboring Trianon is? 220ft! Now scroll back up and take a look at the picture of the Trianon and try to imagine a building nearly TWICE as tall! It’s just too big!

This parcel of land is currently zoned as CS (Community Service) and the City Commission with agreement from the Planning Board has to approve a change from CS to MF (Multi-Family) to enable the development of this condo. This process will start on Tuesday at the Planning meeting.

I believe that there is a place for large developments, but that place is NOT on our waterfront. It may work for South Beach but it will be an eyesore in West Palm Beach.

Please come to the Planning Meeting at 6pm at City Hall and voice your opinion on whether you think that this specific development is right for our waterfront.

To follow ongoing development see these two pages on Facebook – Chapel By The Lake WPB – Preserve this Ministry & Citizens for Responsible Growth.

Beer Lover’s Guide to Clematis Street

Beer Lover’s Guide to Clematis Street

Florida is a state with a reputation for sunny beaches, retirees, and the wackiest of wacky news stories.  Definitely not on this list?  Beer.  Although our beer presence might not be screaming from the rooftops, with a sophisticated suds pallet and a keen eye, beer geeks in the Sunshine State have watched our beer scene  grow into a monster, a really delicious monster.  Want to know exactly where to get the best beers and deals on Clematis Street?  Don’t worry, we did all the work for you.  Here is the beer lover’s guide to Clematis:

Options Galore

Let’s start with the bars that have the biggest beer selection on Clematis.

The most obvious is World of Beer, and they stay true to their name offering over 40 taps and 500 bottles from all around the globe.  The selection is constantly rotating, so you can always get the hottest seasonal brews from the most knowledgeable staff in town.

Pro tip: ALL drafts are half off for happy hour, Monday-Friday from 3:00pm-7:00pm.

Walk just a half block west and you won’t be able to stumble by Grease without turning your head.  Besides the mega burgers the restaurant is named for, this spot also boasts an impressive bottle selection.  The coolers span the entire length of the huge bar and you can even find the latest craft can to quench your thirst.

Keep walking walking west and you’ll find yourself in Roxy’s, one of the older beer spots on Clematis Street. Check out the Beer Bible and choose from one of the 70 draft beers on tap. Then enjoy a game of pool, or darts with your friends.

Chances are you are sufficiently buzzed at this point, but there is still one more place with a huge beer selection you have to hit before grabbing a cab home.  That place is  Barrel & Grain.  Still fresh to the downtown West Palm scene, the people behind Barrel & Grain have been massaging their relationships with the finest craft beer distributors for years, meaning we get the reap the benefits.  And that means the craziest selection on Clematis– A can’t miss for beer geeks and newbies alike.

Often overlooked on the Clematis Street beer scene is the newcomer Hamburger Heaven, which boasts a nice selection of Craft bottles. Bring this coupon in before 8/30 and get a Burger (with 3 toppings) and a Craft Beer for $15.

Next, let’s embrace the college student inside all of us and see where we can…

Drink on the Cheap

Sometimes your bank account and thirst might not be fully calibrated, and during those times, you can still throw back a few.

Sloan’s: Mistakenly famous for their delicious ice cream and super cool bathrooms, the real best thing about Sloan’s is $2 Bud and Bud Lights.  Trust us. Cash only!

Duffy’s: Arguably the cheapest place to drink on Clematis, happy hour literally never ends and this mega-sports bar.  2-4-1 all day, everyday make this the perfect spot to start your night or get distracted and never leave.

Longboards: If you’re on the 500 block during happy hour Longboards is the best place to grab a brew. They have a nice selection of beers, an epic 2-4-1 happy hour and very, very cheap PBRs.

Respectables: If you’re hunting for a cheap (and awesome) night out, keep your eye on theRespectables facebook page. Great bands, cheep beer. Be there!

Off Clematis

The rumors are true, you can get beer on other streets!  But let’s not go to far, drinking and driving ain’t cool peeps.  Located in the Whitney Building on Evernia Street, The Blind Monkmight be known as a “wine bar” but they by no means use that as an excuse to skimp on the beer selection.  Grab a table in this cozy joint and indulge in their super crafty, constantly rotating selection.

Keep wandering long enough and you will end up in City Place.  Finally stepping up their drinking game, Mellow Mushroom and The Brass Tap have each opened their doors pouring a combined almost 150 taps to make sure there is something for everyone.

Sure, you can always get a Sierra Nevada on tap at ER Bradley’s, Bar Louie  boast a decent tap selection, and Roxy’s serves over 60 taps cold and tasty.  But the real crowning glory of our downtown community is coming up later this month.

The Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival is landing at the Meyer Amphitheater June 22nd and will bring together live local music and a tasty, wide selection of brews.  All of your tried and true favorites plus Florida breweries that have made a splash on the scene will be on hand, pouring unlimited samples for 6 continuous hours while you get to have the time of your life.

When it comes to truly satisfying your need for a delicate and hoppy brews, Clematis Street has it all.  The selection, the price, even the best event of the year.  Stay thirsty, my friends.

Guest post by “Downtown” Dana Krangel!

Come to Palm Beach Sail Club for West Palm 100’s Knot-a-Regatta

It’s not often that I encourage people to leave Clematis Street, but I’m making an exception today for West Palm 100’s annual Knot-A-Regata gala which will take place this Saturday at the Palm Beach Sail Club.

I’ve been a member of West Palm 100 for the last few years, it’s a great local social and civic organization comprised of young professionals that are dedicated to supporting West Palm Beach’s children, families and neighborhoods through the donation of time, money and people power. We throw monthly happy hours, quarterly Lunch-and-Learns, and then some really cool galas.

 

knot-a-regata

 

If you’re not a member, take advantage of the $100 gala/membership ticket and join us on Saturday for a fun evening!

Sponsored by Tito’s Vodka, Gosling’s Dark and Stormys, World of Beer, Pistache, Tin Fish, Barrel & Grain and Morande Winery

We’ll see you there!

 

Pistache’s 5th Anniversary Party – Motivation Man – Ginger’s Dance Party & More

Happy Friday! It’s going to be an exceptionally busy weekend, but let’s take a few minutes to talk before we get going with the day.

First – Remember that THERE IS NO GREEN MARKET THIS WEEK – Motivation Man, West Palm Beach’s Half Iron / Olympic Triathlon will be hitting the road at 6:15 on the waterfront! Also TACO VIDA is now open on the 300 block of Clematis Street! Check it out!

Yesterday Downtown celebrated their annual Pairings event, which is organized by the Downtown Development Authority. Despite almost non-stop rain during the day, everything cleared up for a beautiful evening.

Different people see Clematis Street in different ways. It could be the retail view during the day, or the club view on Saturday night. The Pairings event yesterday portrayed a Downtown that few people appreciate, but could be a “signature feature” of our Downtown area – the foodie Downtown.

Each restaurant ran as a finely tuned machine, serving out their specialty, from wings at Roxy’s to mini-shepherds pie (straight from Audrey’s kitchen) atOshea’s to Palm Sugar’s fabulous Pillow Soft Pork Bun and Hamburger Heaven’s great little Turkey burgers (with fantastic root beer floats). Everything ran extremely smoothly and everyone had a great time.

Pairings demonstrated what great restaurants and how many dining options there are in the Downtown area. I’d love to see hundreds of people come out each evening and and leisurely stroll down Clematis, popping in and out of our local and varied dining establishments as they worked their way down the street.

Remember how I said I’d ask a question each week? Well last week the ONLY answer I got for the Best Happy Hour Place was “WINE DIVE”! So congratulations WINE DIVE, you’re the happy hour place of the week!

Today’s question was also submitted by one of my favorite readers (extra points if you can guess who it was). Ready?

Question for the day: Where is your favorite Place to Dance on Saturday Nights?

Actually, this question is totally loaded, so I’ll go ahead and give you the answer!

GINGER’S DANCE PARTY!!!

Yup, it’s West Palm Beach’s favorite waterfront dance party, and it’s happening THIS Saturday! It’s the perfect place to come out on a Saturday night, enjoy food from Grimaldi’s, Hamburger Heaven, Pistache, or (my favorite) Pizza Girls while the DJ plays to an excited crowd. Always a good time.

Here’s the rest of your schedule for the VERY busy weekend.

Tonight PISTACHE is Celebrating their 5th Anniversary! Has it really been 5 years already? Anyhow, they will launch their NEW summer dinner menu as well as unveil the 2013 Tour du Monde Culinary World Tour events through the summer…. Come pick up your Passport for a chance to win a trip to Paris!!

Tonight is the Northwood Village Art and Wine Promenade – Stroll the Village on Friday May 31, 2013 from 6:00 – 9:00pm and enjoy free wine from Winehooch, amazing artists, great buys in our shops, free video games, live entertainment, stop by and meet Mo & Sally from Kool 105.5 and much more!

Saturday – If you want to do good while being Nautical, check out the 8th Annual Kayak-a-thon Fundraiser – Kayakers will paddle their way along a 7 mile course from the Riviera Beach Marina to Munyon and Peanut Islands then back to the marina. This annual event is one of the most exciting fundraising activities of the year for Reef Rescue. Not only does the Kayak-a-thon help raise funds to support Reef Rescue coral reef conservation projects, but it also brings together our family of supporters for a fun filled day of outdoor activity.

And if you’re in the South End Saturday evening, stop by Ken Keffer’s Plate and Pantry between 5 and 7 to meet the South End Neighbors!

That’s all for me, I’ll see you on Clematis Street!

Aaron “aGuyonClematis” Wormus!

PS: This week New Times did a great interview with Rodney Mayo (restaurateur extraordinaire), it’s worth a read! Enjoy!

PS: I’m going to be doing an The Great Summer Quest of 2013 on Saturday – I’ll be tweeting through it, but will need as much help as possible to WIN the $10,000 grand prize. If you know a lot about Palm Beach County and don’t mind getting random phone calls when I get stuck on clues, send me your number!!! Thanks 😀

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