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VG Vodka is on the scene

Posted on 16 October 2019 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

Victor George Vodka (VG) is popping up everywhere it seems since its official launch back in September. The ultra-premium vodka, which took the silver medal at the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition this year, will be the official vodka of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival,  30th Annual Swing for the Kids Golf Tournament at Lago Mar Country Club, Exotics on Las Olas, and will be featured at the Ft Lauderdale Intl. Boat Show and elsewhere. The locally-sourced vodka is gluten-free and uses all-natural ingredients. The filtration and oxidation process they utilize helps to purify and remove harsh congeners and free radicals to make a spirit that is headache and hangover free.

What is more interesting than the vodka is the man behind the brand – Victor George Harvey. His life has undergone a series of twists and turns, but he is back with a commitment to build South Florida’s largest locally owned liquor brand. This go-getter was a college athlete, a rapper (with the name Tai Pan) with a record called “The Rise, The Fall, The Rise,” and his own record label. He got involved in real estate and opened up his first vodka company, called V. Georgio Vodka in 2008.  His new vodka, VG Vodka, is already getting a lot of buzz and growing rapidly.

Currently, his vodka is being bottled out of South Carolina, and he is building and opening a distillery on historic Sistrunk Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale, which will house a tasting room, offices, cigar bar and restaurant. 

In addition, he and his two children, both business majors in college, have their own VG clothing line, including boxers, hats and T-shirts, with more merchandise coming soon. A book and movie about his life are in the works. He is certainly one to watch, and look for VG Vodka coming to an event, restaurant, bar or store near you.

For more information, visit www.victorgeorgevodka.com.

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Oceanic opens

Posted on 05 September 2019 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

Right near the newly renovated Pompano Pier, a much-anticipated restaurant has now opened. Oceanic restaurant, with its modern look and great view had its grand opening party on Thursday, Aug. 29. Some stayed downstairs to enjoy delicious passed hors d’ oeuvres or fresh seafood. Others grabbed a Dorian-tini from the luge there and went upstairs to see the view of the ocean from the balcony and see the large room that can be rented out for private parties, including weddings. (They also have a bride’s room). In the middle of the fun, a belly dancer swayed through the crowd balancing candles and later a sword on her head while juggling fire, causing quite a stir. Owner Lou Moshakos christened the restaurant by throwing plates with his grandson, showcasing his Greek roots. Opa!

Lou originally opened a restaurant 41 years ago in Deerfield Beach called Seafood Shanty with his wife Joy. They sold it in the 1980s. Today, their company, LM Restaurants, owns several restaurant concepts. Besides Oceanic here and also another one in North Carolina, they also have Vidrio, Bluewater Waterfront Grill, Hops Supply Co., Taverna Agora, Carolina Ale House and Henry’s. Their daughter Amber is now president of the company.

At this Oceanic, their culinary focus is on “fresh seafood, high quality steaks, creative bold flavors and sharing plates all at reasonable prices,” according to Joy, who also said they will have creative cocktails at their full bars.

One guest, Thetis Palamiotov couldn’t stop raving about the restaurant.

“The experience is above and beyond. They have great service,” she said.

Right next door to the restaurant, Joy said they are building another restaurant. It will be called Lucky Fish Beach Bar and will be beach casual with a Tahitian Tiki bar feel. In addition, they will be opening a Mediterranean style restaurant called Morea in the Paramount Building in Ft. Lauderdale (701 N. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd.), which will be focused on sharing plates to promote conversation the way you often see in Mediterranean countries.

Katherine Goldfaden, director of Brands & Marketing, said that every restaurant opening they have, they always give 10 percent to a local nonprofit, and education is one of their biggest charity passions. In the case of opening Oceanic, they donated 10 percent of at least the first seven days of being open to Broward Education Foundation.

Oceanic restaurant is located at 250 N. Pompano Beach Blvd., in Pompano Beach. For more information, visit www.oceanicpompano.com.

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Pompano Junior Lifeguards fare well at regional event

Posted on 18 July 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Grace Parnas wins the beach flags event as she tops Lake Worth’s Kiki Padron at the United States Lifeguard Association Southern Regional event at Lake Worth. Photo by Gary Curreri

Grace Parnas had a stellar effort at the recent United States Lifeguard Association Southern Regional event at Lake Worth.

The 14-year-old Pompano Beach resident won six of the nine events she was in and placed second in another for the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards in the Girls A Division. Parnas, who will be a sophomore at Calvary Christian Academy in the fall, took first in the run-swim-run, paddleboard race, beach flags, rescue race, iron guard and the swim relay. She got silver in the run relay.

“I’ve been competing for four years and been doing the camp for six years,” Parnas said. “It’s so fun. Most of the people say it is so hard, but I get to see my friends and then compete with them.”

She gets lost in the adrenaline rush. 

“You honestly don’t remember a lot of the race,” Parnas said. “You have the adrenaline rush and you are going as fast as you can because you just want to win.”

“I never expected to be at nationals or regionals,” said Parnas, who has also fared well at the national event.

She won beach flags two years ago and placed third last year in the event and is the two-time defending paddleboard national champion. 

“It is incredible,” she continued. “I never thought I would win nationals. I don’t feel any (outside) pressure. It is more self-put pressure because I want to win a national championship again.”

Teammate Julia Freshour, 13, also of Pompano, turned in a solid performance as well. She won the Girls B Division surf rescue, paddleboard, run-swim-run, rescue relay, and moved up in both the Girls A swim relay and the U19 swim relay. She was second in the iron guard.

“I really love ocean swimming so it is probably that,” said Freshour, who is a Pompano Middle School eighth-grader and has competed since she was 7. “I like to race. The competitions are really important. I would skip anything that day to come to this.”

She also loves the adrenaline rush when she competes.

“I kind of tune everything out, and I get into this zone where I kind of go into autopilot and just go,” she said. “I don’t think about anything. I don’t feel anything. I can just go all out.

It is very important to win.”

Pompano Beach’s Victoria Scarpinito took second in the U19 Girls beach flags event. She’s competed for the past five years.

“I love the team spirit and team enthusiasm. I like the challenge and how you can push yourself,” said Scarpinito, 17, who will be a senior at Cardinal Gibbons in the fall. She is also a member of the school’s dance team and on the Pro-Am competition dance team.

“It is an amazing feeling once you are out there,” she said. “It is not the most important thing to win, but it is a good feeling when you do.”

Summer Schulte took first in the U19 girls Surf race (distance swim), paddleboard and iron guard, while Oliver Nagy was the top boys finisher for the Pompano program as he won three events in the Boys A Division. He won the surf swim, paddleboard and iron guard.

Rich Tammany, who heads up the host Lake Worth Junior Lifeguard program, said the event attracted about 200 junior lifeguards from as far south as Hollywood all the way north to Flagler Beach.

Among the other cities represented were Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach and host Lake Worth.

“We were very excited,” Tammany said. “I have been doing Junior Lifeguards for 23 years and this is only the second time we have had it here. The other time we had it here was 2006. The kids are excited. The weather was good…water was good. It was a great day.”

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Brightline hosts Tasting Train event

Posted on 12 October 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

If you have never ridden on Brightline’s high speed train before, you are in for a treat. From the beautiful architecture of its train station to its well-lit large parking structure, Brightline begins to impress before you even get aboard its train. The inside of the station is spotless with a modern seating area complete with a place to charge your phone and access to a cafe where you can buy something to eat or drink, and other items, before hopping on board. (Check out the bathroom with a high tech faucet that has water, soap and a dryer within it).

Brightline began serving passengers from Ft. Lauderdale (101 NW 2 Ave.) to West Palm Beach on Jan. 13 and from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami (600 Miami Central Ave.) on May 19, so now it is taking passengers daily tri-county. Next expansion will be from West Palm Beach to Orlando, and then extend beyond that. It is the only privately owned and maintained passenger rail system in the country.

They certainly have taken great care to maintain their trains. The inside is spotless with some seats facing each other with tables, to make it easier to do work with their onboard WiFi or eat snacks that are available for purchase. The staff is very friendly and accommodating.

They are going out of their way to come up with unique ideas to attract passengers. On Oct. 5, they had their second Tasting Train event. Passengers were greeted on board in either West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale. On the train, they were offered their choice of Antinori wines.

Family-owned, Antinori Wines is the oldest wine producer in the world. They control everything from seed to fermentation and beyond.

This reporter’s selection was the Villa Antinori Toscana Bianco 2016, which was a light and refreshing perfect first choice. They offered up a plastic container of snacks to pair with the wine consisting of crackers, cheese, brie, cheddar and walnuts. There wasn’t too much time for chit chat with fellow passengers as the train made it to Miami in about a quick half hour; time sped by and the ride was so smooth.

Once there, everyone left their seats and headed into the Miami station with a similar feel and setting, but with vibrant artistic murals by Typoe that screamed Miami with its color palette and design. Everything here was carefully thought out, down to the barely noticeable scent pumped in, which was vanilla with a hint of citrus. Guests were treated to a musical performance by Mr. Trombone and a DJ from My Party My Way while they mingled and snacked on more cheese, crackers and the like, as well as a cup with burrata topping chopped tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, passed hors d’ oeuvres like rice balls, stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and more.

We are focusing on creating a unique experience and re-imagining the way people think about trains. Where else can you have wine tasting with the oldest family-owned wines?” said Ali Soule, director of Public Affairs and Media Relations, who said the next Tasting Train will be scheduled sometime in December, but may not necessarily be centered around wines. Stay tuned…

On the way back to Ft. Lauderdale, another plastic box of treats awaited passengers, including dried fruits and nuts, and pretzels, and a bottle of water.

To find out more about Brightline, visit www.gobrightline.com.

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BUSINESS BEAT: Companies that care: Giving back locally

Posted on 13 September 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Hundreds of companies headquartered in our readership area generously give back to their communities, making them better places to live and work. Here’s a peek at three in different cities representing different industries with a commitment to different causes.

JM Family Enterprises, Deerfield Beach

For more than 30 years, children and families in Deerfield Beach have been the recipients of many corporate giving programs financed by JM Family Enterprises, the privately-owned diversified automotive company founded by Jim Moran. Seeing a need in the neighborhood, JM Family built and funds a Boys & Girls Club with staffed after school programs, along with a forthcoming teen center to provide activities and education addressing teen needs.

Down the street is the Youth Automotive Training Center that JM built to help young people learn everything about the automotive industry — business, selling, fixing and maintaining cars. Here school drop-outs can receive their GED, life skills, job skills training and job placement upon graduation. Several have been hired at JM Lexus.

Along with other community partners, last year JM Family helped build a KaBOOM! playground in a day at the Hillsboro Community Center. The company hosts an annual Teachers Tote Supplies Giveaway there. Teachers from local schools pick up tote bags filled with school supplies they need. JM also ships reams of paper to their schools. In addition, they give away supplies at a BSO event for Back to School.

Said Kim Bentley, assistant vice president of Corporate Philanthropy, “We are continuing Jim Moran’s philosophy about sharing time, talent and resources.”

Bluegreen Vacations Corporation, Boca Raton

A timeshare properties company headquartered in Boca Raton, Bluegreen is a division of parent company BBX Capital, which has supported Florida charities since 1994 with direct funding, in-kind donations and paid employee-volunteer hours.

Bluegreen extends its “share happiness” motto to local charities helping children and families, and education causes, says Lois Marino, director of Community Engagement for BBX Capital & Retail Brand. For example: How do students in grades K-12 learn about survival business skills and workforce readiness? Bluegreen is a major donor to the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Bell Education Foundation, a non-profit that administers educational programs promoting business skills and workforce readiness in the Boca Raton public schools.

Where can families dealing with a crisis or serious illness get a break? At a retreat. Bluegreen partners with the non-profit Deliver the Dream to provide three-day/two-night accommodations at its timeshare properties for families and volunteers participating in the non-profit’s retreat program.

Other community non-profits Bluegreen and BBX Capital have longtime commitments to include Junior Achievement, Boca Helping Hands, Cystic Fibrosis and JDRF. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Share Happiness” is not just Bluegreen’s motto, says Marino, “It is in the DNA of our commitment to social responsibility and philanthropy, too.”

Danto Builders, Ft. Lauderdale

For Craig and Debbie Danto, their company giving program for people with special abilities is personal. Debbie’s grandfather founded an organization in Ohio to help his son with Down’s Syndrome partake in work, sports and social skills development.

I remember how much joy my uncle got out of it,” said Debbie. “He was so innocent and sweet, such a loving, beautiful person who enjoyed all the activities.”

Her parents continued the program as it grew and now Debbie and her husband, who’s nephew also has Down’s Syndrome, are carrying on the family tradition and legacy locally. The couple are honorary board members of Special Olympics, and board members of the Florida Design and Construction Professionals. Danto proposed to the professional organization that members approve a fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Oct. 2 will mark the 5th Annual Florida Design & Construction Professionals/Danto Builders Special Olympics Big Bad BBQ. The all-you-can-eat fundraiser with 600 attending, including Special Olympians, is held at the Danto Builder’s parking lot from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Everything is donated or sponsored by local businesses: food, wine, beverages, grills, music, door prizes, auction items. Last year, the event raised $35,000 for 6,100 Special Olympics athletes and 23 year-round sports programs. The goal this year is $50,000, says Danto. A local family’s legacy grows on.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a best-selling author. www.multimediaworks.com

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Diners save by using loyalty card owned by Pompano Beach resident

Posted on 15 September 2012 by JLusk

Looking for a place to dine in North Broward? It’s time to join FeedingFrenzee.com, a restaurant discount community and customer loyalty network which brings you events and deals from many local restaurants. Observer favorites (check out our reviews on our website) such as Hot Tomatoe, Galuppi’s and Spanx BBQ-The Hog have all partnered with FeedingFrenzee.com. The new Lighthouse Kitchen in Shoppes of Beacon Light is offering buy one get one free on crepes with your FeedingFrenzee card (get it for free at the restaurants or sign up online at FeedingFrenzee.com). Dandee Donut’s in Pompano Beach is giving 5% off if you show the card.

Diners can join the FeedingFrenzee.com community for free and get a discount card that entitles them to benefits at all restaurants in the FeedingFrenzee community. For example, dine at Galuppi’s and buy one entrée, get the second one 50% off with your card or use in Deerfield Beach at Café Med by Bice for 15% off. Amasianing in Lighthouse Point is offering free soup or eggroll with lunch/free glass of wine with dinner if you use the card.

Owned by Tinka Hooper, a Pompano Beach resident, FeedingFrenzee was started as a way to help local restaurants increase exposure to local residents and also to help them build a regular loyal following through the discount card.

“Diners love the card because they are saving at great local restaurants,” said Hooper who, together with her team custom developed the software that sends out weekly updates to diners about specials and events in the local community. “It’s really important to support local businesses and this is one way to help them grow.”

Learn more or sign up for your FeedingFrenzee card at www.feedingfrenzee.com.

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Crabby Jack’s fire; 2nd restaurant to burn in Rivertowne Square this month

Posted on 28 August 2011 by JLusk

Crabby Jacks, at 1015 S.  Federal, in Deerfield Beach,  is the second restaurant this month in Rivertowne Square shopping center at SW 10th and Federal to have a fire.

People cruising by Sunday morning watched as it was burning down between 6:40 and 7:00 a.m. before someone finally called the fire in. Deerfield started rolling on the call at 7 a.m. and quickly called for back up from Pompano and Ft. Lauderdale.

There was a rumor going around town that maybe there was a “firebug” in the area because of a fire at Peking Tokyo Buffet on Aug. 12, which is still closed, less than a 1000 feet from Crabby Jack’s. That fire was a result of grease build up on and around the grill so when the employee fired it up there was a flash fire.

Quitoni from Deerfield fire said it took about 30 minutes to whack down the initial blaze.  BSO cleared out Denny’s next door because it was so hot.  Onlookers were coming by all day. The state Fire Marshall is investigating the fire and we should have an answer soon.

We will have the complete story in our Sept 1 issue of the Observer. To watch video of the Peking Tokyo Buffet fire on Aug 12 and the Crabby Jack’s fire go to ObserverTV and click on” latest videos”

PHOTO BY JEFF GRAVES

 

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