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EatBeat: Dolce de Palma Closes; Chef Anthony de Palma Courted by Others

June 27th, 2011 · 12 Comments

“I had to ask my wife, ‘What day is this?'” Anthony de Palma said. “I haven’t been unemployed for 12 years. I haven’t had any real time off in five years.”

Now he’s off – permanently – after closing the doors of his successful Dolce de Palma in West Palm Beach after a five-year run. The chef cites issues with the landlord as the principal reason he decided to close.

“It’s unfortunate, to say the least,” he said in a phone interview this morning. Ultimately, the closing came down to the small building that he leases off Parker and Okeechobee near the Kravis Center, he said. “It was a mix of problems with the landlord and building inadequacies.

“I was trying to move the bathrooms inside – my clientele would have to go outside to use what we referred to as ‘the outhouse.’

They had to stripe the parking lot and I didn’t want to invest in that. I’ve put over $180,000 into the building in improvements. The lease extension was coming up the first of June every year. I have a wife and new baby at home. It got to be too much.”

He said taxes and insurance, at $5500 a month, were an extra burden. Problems in finding a good manager this past season added to the headaches. “I was spending so much time on the floor and not in the kitchen. It’s hard enough to battle the ups and downs in the restaurant business. The landlord was threatening me, and I just said ‘enough.'”

Offers pouring in

Curiously, he said, he’d had the best week in a month when he decided to pull the plug on June 17. “Thank God the phone’s ringing. People do care about good food – they want to see me back on my feet fast.”

Danny Meyer, with whom he worked in New York City for some time before coming to Florida, would like him back in Manhattan, de Palma said, and he’s had offers from backers who would like him in Miami.

“I’m not sure what to do yet. I’ve got opportunities on the island (Palm Beach) and with the Fratelli family where I did an apprentice in Rome – Stefano was one of the first to call.”

“The mayor (of West Palm Beach) called and talked to me about a place downtown. They’d like me to stay in West Palm Beach.” The old Bonds space is available, and spot across from Phat Sandwiches on the west end of Clematis, as well.

It will come down to details that fix the problems his diners noted at the previous location – and emphasize the parts they enjoyed. “They loved the patio where they could smoke, and the parking directly at the restaurant.” He’d like a full bar, and bathrooms inside the building – a certainty, he said, in his next restaurant.

Taking a vacation first

After meeting with a few people, De Palma said he’s probably taking a vacation before committing to something new.

But first, he’ll auction his equipment from Dolce de Palma Tuesday. “I hate to lose this investment. I’m going to get as much back as I can then move on. My wife wants me to take some time off – then line up everything the way I need it to be by the end of the month. We’ve never really even had a proper honeymoon.”

Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott Simmons // Jun 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    We’re hoping Anthony can stay in the area. He’s a much-loved presence, that’s for sure!

  • 2 Mark Goldstein // Jul 2, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Your food was the best! You’re a top notch Chef. See you at your new place soon! Get your equipment at Jaysugarman.com & save money on your up front investment! It was a pleasure working & eating with you! All my best! Mark G.

  • 3 Steev Rullman // Jul 4, 2011 at 3:00 am

    Bummer! Had planned to stop in for dinner this week. Dolce was awesome. Hope to see Anthony up and running soon. As always, anything I can do to help…

  • 4 Katie // Jul 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Leo losing his investment? Why are you slamming a thriving restaurant to feel better about your own failed restaurant? You were offered to work FOR him, not buy him out. You don’t have the dough to buy him out, remember??? There’s a LOT more to your little out-of-business De Palma story than what you are saying and EVERYONE knows it. If only running a restaurant were as easy as running a beauty salon; you might have actually done well.

  • 5 Katie // Jul 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Jan, Jan, Jan, you are Zero for Two when it comes to correctly reporting on Bar Italia. I get that you are a food “blogger” that likes to eat out (a lot) for free, but try to maintain some semblance of truth when you are typing your little south florida food blog. you don’t want to be taken for an amateur “blogger”, do you?

  • 6 Travis // Jul 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    No one would ever do an auction unless they were flat broke. Put it in storage if you aren’t completely desperate. you get $.30 on the dollar in an auction. You’re saying you would take a monumental loss on your equipment and then have to rebuy new equipment? nope. makes no sense.

  • 7 Anthony DePalma // Jul 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Jan it’s just to bad that these so called business people actually understand my business better than I do myself??? And actually if they are as busy as they say they are they sure have alot of time on their hands bashing people. I never had anything bad to say about Leo or his organization, actually i was very happy to talk with him, but this is just another example of the truth. Katie I don’t know who you think you are talking the way you are about people but keep it up if that works for you and your organization.

  • 8 Anthony DePalma // Jul 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Hey Travis thanks for commenting about selling vs storing equipment that we beat the hell out of when, your right we can buy new equipment at an auction for pennies on the dollar??? Doesn’t make sense bud. Again I appreciate all that you have to offer and if you want to chat about the details I would love to talk so call me!

  • 9 Paul // Jul 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Anthony we stopped by Saturday night for dinner with friends and must say we were very sad to see that you had closed. You had one of the greatest establishments in Palm Beach County and I am sure that there are many others feel the same.

    As for this “Katie” who shouldn’t even be bothering filling in voids with her lies. And if she is who we think she is she is she should just worry about serving her one or two tables a night. And like the Manalapan Bridge closing… well I dont have much more to say!
    Anthony you are right these people have way to much time on their hands and have to just chill out and worry why they are not busy. It is unfortunate that even when people like Leo get press they have nothing good to say about it (or was it he told you another story that wasn’t true?). Good luck to him in his “so called” South Carolina fairy tale restaurant and we know that the Palm Beachers will never allow his attitude driven operation (or staff) in his fairy tale Island restaurant either.

    Anthony, the best of luck and we look forward to seeing where you end up next. We cant wait to long for that incredible Bolognese! Ciao

  • 10 David // Sep 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I recently heard Anthony had opened a restaurant in Boston. Any update on where he’s offering his chef’s whims these days. I’d travel to taste…

  • 11 Debi // Feb 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

    David and interested others,
    Anthony landed as exec chef at an amazing restaurant in Salem, New Hampshire called Tuscan Kitchen. I have been there once before and am looking forward to dining there now that he has landed there. I found out by watching a repeat tonight of “Chef Wanted” on Food Network tonight. Perhaps by now some of you may be aware that Anthony is there.

  • 12 Mark // Feb 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I’m ready this article and not understanding how Bernie Madoff has anything to do with the closing of the restaurant the way Mr. de Palma explained in the Chef Wanted episode

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