Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

Jan Norris: Food and Florida header image 1

EatBeat: Todd English, Lirim Jacobi Partner to Bring Olives to Boca Raton

October 19th, 2009 · 2 Comments


Taverna Opa owner expanding throughout South Florida with several concepts

Lirim Jacobi is fast becoming the new Dennis Max of restaurateurs in South Florida with several openings planned – and he’s partnered with celeb chef Todd English to branch out into other genres.

Coincidentally, there are barely two degrees of separation between Jacobi and Max, a former dining entrepreneur star, in his newest venture with English.

toddenglishThe link: Jacobi is inking the contract on Olives, English’s signature restaurant, to move into Opus 5 — formerly owned by Burt Rapaport. Rapaport was Max’s former biz partner in a number of SoFla restaurants.

Already a Figs

Jacobi and English already are partners in a Figs that will open in CityPlace, in the recently closed Italian Oven spot. With “several more Figs and Olives” possible throughout South Florida, Jacobi said, he’s looking at a long-term partnership with English.

Diners curious about English’s cuisine can taste his work at the year-old Figs in The Gardens mall in Palm Beach Gardens, and in Orlando, at the BlueZoo — his seafood concept in the Dolphin Resort in Disney World.

Olives born in Massachusetts

English started his now broad empire of eateries in Charlestown, Mass., with Olives –a rustic Mediterranean concept from 1989 that earned the photogenic chef a Rising Star Chef award from the James Beard Foundation two years later. The Beard group named him Best Chef in the Northeast in 1994.

His celeb status was upped in 2001, when People Magazine tapped him as one of their 50 Most Beautiful People, launching him into the radar of the paparazzi and gossip columns. He’s been in those columns this week after leaving Erica Wang, an employee, at the altar earlier this month, then allegedly filing assault charges against her.

Since Olives, English has built an eatery empire, opening numerous concepts that cover a plethora of menus — seafood, steak, French, rustic and upscale Mediterranean — in top cities such as New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Aspen, Orlando, Washington D.C., and Boston.

Jacobi finds Mediterranean a good fit

Taverna Opa owner Jacobi called English’s Olives “a good fit” for the area – a solid menu with roast chicken, short ribs, duck and steak frites, among others, and signature pastas, appetizers and salads. It’s a pricey affair at the Charlestown restaurant — time will tell if the expensive menu will hold up in the still flat SoFla economy.

Jacobi feels the fare will juxtapose well with his Greek “eatertainment” spots that also are growing – a new Taverna Opa is going into the Dolphin Mall in Miami, and others are in the works.

Taverna Opa has a Greek-Middle Eastern menu, with a lively bar scene, along with belly dancers and staff members who join diners dancing on the bar. The former practice of breaking plates during the dances has given way to throwing paper napkins instead.

Look for a November opening for Olives.


Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben Starling // Oct 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I have eaten at the Olives in Washington DC and Las Vegas… incredible experiences! I remember a pumpkin ravioli that was heavenly.

  • 2 Erik-Alexander Richter // May 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I was at Taverna Opa in West Palm Beach. It was one of the best foods I ever had in a Greek restaurant. And that includes Athens! Please try the baclava, some super experience!

Leave a Comment