Landlord blames difficult summer season for restaurant closings in Boca

Boca restaurants shutter in Royal Palm Place

BOCA RATON, Fla. - It's harder to find a bite to eat this month in Boca Raton.

At least eight restaurants have closed in the last several weeks. Five of them were in the Royal Palm Place plaza off Federal Hwy.

At Jake's Stone Crab there is an eviction notice on the door, as well as a lawsuit from the landlord demanding $30,000 in back rent.

Asian fusion restaurant, Fusionarie is closed, as is Estia Greek Tavern and Caruso Ristorante.

"They packed up all their stuff one night when I wasn't there," said waiter Serge Garcia. "I got a message saying they weren't going to be there anymore."

Garcia is one of dozens of workers who found themselves suddenly without work in the last few weeks.

"It's disheartening. They are the competition. But at the same time, local businesses are friends and family," said Robert Jaques, the GM of Table 42, one restaurant in Royal Palm Place that is still standing.

"Last year was a lot busier than this past season," said Jaques. "A lot of people were banking on another increase, whereas it was a little more flat-lined."

Investments Limited is the landlord of many of the restaurants that have recently closed.

The owner, Jim Badmasian, insists the closings are nothing abnormal, that it's summertime and that there are, "fewer mouths to feed."

Longtime Boca restauranteur Dennis Max agrees but argues that the Royal Palm Plaza has other challenges.

"I just think is that it's a simple thing of too many maybe in one location. Only the strongest survive, " said Dennis.

City officials are hoping that new apartment buildings being built downtown will provide a new surge of hungry people.

Garcia has landed a job at the surviving Table 42, but knows many still looking.

"Maintaining a job down here can be very tricky, especially this time of year. I'm sure there are hundreds of people job-searching now," said Garcia.

Badmasian says he does hope to diversify the types of businesses that take over the empty spaces.

"It won't be a problem," he said.

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