John Spoto may be closing his Water Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, but is expanding Spoto’s Oyster Bar to Stuart. It’s bigger with more selections – and on the water, pluses all around, he said.
“I’m done with other concepts,” he said. “Spoto’s (Oyster Bar) is the concept that works for us.”
The former manager at Chuck and Harold’s in Palm Beach opened the first Oyster Bar on Datura in West Palm Beach. It was a rousing success until rents for the improved downtown forced him out. He moved the restaurant to PGA Commons in Palm Beach Gardens, where he found an immediate audience.
He then branched out to a new concept – the Oakwood Grill, a steakhouse. It did well in the beginning, but once the area’s dining scene exploded and several other chain steakhouses opened around him, he saw fewer diners. Seafood seemed to be a favorite for area patrons, though, so he converted it to a modern seafood grill, the Water Bar, with steaks and other offerings on the menu.
The Water Bar closed the week after Easter. Spoto said the season has been disappointing – and puzzling. “We had an excellent crew and we were putting out a good product.”
Many of the staffers will join him in Stuart. The new Spoto’s takes over for Arthur’s Dockside Restaurant in downtown Stuart on the water.
“I found out the city of Stuart was looking for something to put in that space,” Spoto said. “They own the property. It’s always been a dream to be on the water. The city was wonderful to work with and I was very happy about it all.”
The work began in February to refit the restaurant. “It’ll be different from this Spoto’s – we have the ability to do a sushi bar, so we’re doing that, too.”
A fryer allows him to bring in some of the foods that were popular at the Water Bar to satisfy a new diners here. “We’ll do calamari, coconut shrimp, fried whole-belly clams and fried oysters. Everything else will be the same. We’ll have the sit-down oyster bar – and it overlooks the water. It’s beautiful. The view is just gorgeous.”
Docks allow boaters to arrive by water. The downtown crowd and theater-goers at the Lyric Theater nearby will have options for lunch and dinner, he said.
“We’re really excited and I think it’s going to be a great fit up here.”
Spoto’s Stuart is at 131 S.W. Flagler Ave.; phone 772-220-7772.