After much anticipation, The Bite Eatery – the first-ever food hall in Pompano Beach – has opened its doors.
Located at 2715 E. Atlantic Boulevard in The Harbor Village Shops, the food hall features nine culinary concepts and one full-service bar, all under one roof. Participating restaurants include Deli Shack, Taco Vibez, Papa’s Pizzeria, Lobstar, Mama Mia, Beef Boyz, Ceviche Time, Abuelita’s Cuban Bistro and Moop Gelato. The Bite Bar, centrally located in the food hall, will serve drinks to all the establishments.
“It has been a long time coming,” said Jessica Gollel of Gollel Family Properties, the owner and developer of The Bite Eatery. “We are very excited to open.”
Gollel Family Properties acquired the approximately 9,000-square-foot space for the food hall in 2019. It was vacant and required a full rebuild of the interior. The opening of the venue had been anticipated for 2021, but during the development of the project, “we faced all kinds of challenges that affected the timeline,” said Gollel, including supply chain issues due to COVID-19.
The Bite Eatery will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The operating hours are currently 11am to 9pm every day, but the plan is to extend them sometime in March.
Also in March, there are plans to start a bottomless brunch on Saturdays and Sundays with one price for unlimited bloody marys, mimosas and Bellini cocktails. Some of the restaurants will also have breakfast menu items available.
Live music from local artists in a variety of genres is scheduled to start this month during the dinner service, with performances several nights a week.
Each dining concept within the food hall is run as an independent business with its own menu.
The food hall uses a point-of-sale technology that is provided at each of the tables. Patrons are able to scan a QR (Quick Response) code with their smartphone, and then browse menu items from all the restaurants, place their order and pay, right from their table. The order goes directly to the vendor’s computer, then the order is prepared, and a runner brings it to the table. Patrons can also order food directly at the counter.
The food hall will also offer pick-up and delivery options for patrons who don’t want to eat on the premises.
The concept of opening a food hall was inspired by the Mercato Centrale, a food hall that Gollel frequented during a college semester she spent in Florence, Italy. She liked being able to go to the same location and have something new every time.
“I loved the concept and wanted to bring it to Pompano,” said Gollel. “Families or large parties who have different taste preferences can come here and everyone can enjoy what they love best.”
Gollel opened The Bite Eatery with her father Richard Gollel – who founded Gollel Family Properties – and her brothers Richard and Michael. The family lives in the Hillsboro Shores neighborhood of Pompano Beach, just a 5-minute drive from the food hall.
The food hall is “open and airy,” with a nautical theme. Reclaimed driftwood was used for the wall paneling, vendor stalls and columns. A light fixture made from an actual rowboat hangs from the ceiling. The décor ties in with local themes, such as the Pompano pier, the lighthouse at the Hillsboro Inlet and the beach, which is a short distance away.
The Bite Eatery has approximately 100 employees, the majority of which are Pompano Beach residents. In addition, all but two of the vendor operators are residents of Pompano.
“We’re a small local business, so supporting small businesses and the Pompano Beach economy was a top priority throughout the past couple of years,” said Gollel.
Gollel said that, throughout the process of bringing The Bite Eatery to fruition, having the support of her team, the City of Pompano Beach and the residents has “meant a lot.”
Meet the vendors
The Deli Shack is operated by Alex Sky, who was previously the owner of The Onion Roll, a popular beachside deli in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. A highlight on the Deli Shack menu is the “Super Special” sandwich – corned beef, Swiss cheese, coleslaw (inside the sandwich) and Russian dressing, on rye or a kaiser roll. Sky gets his meat from Sy Ginsberg in Detroit, the biggest manufacturer of corned beef in the United States. “Every reputable deli in southeast Florida uses his meat,” said Sky. The Deli Shack’s pickles and bread are freshly made by local companies.
Papa’s Pizzeria specializes in artisan pizzas and also serves sides, such as mozzarella sticks, Italian charcuterie boards, and chicken wings with a garlic and limoncello sauce. Another popular item is a whipped ricotta dip topped with warm honey, pistachios and basil, and served with little toasts (crostini). The chef/owner of Papa’s Pizzeria is Gus Kapakos, who for 32 years was the owner of Big C’s Downtown Pizzeria in Fort Lauderdale, an eatery that still exists.
Lobstar specializes in lobster items, particularly lobster rolls. Lobstar, a Madrid-based company, has a few locations in Spain, and operates successful food trucks in South Florida. The Lobstar at The Bite Eatery is the first brick-and-mortar location in the United States, and will be run by Mario Capone.
Beef Boyz offers classic burgers, specialty burgers, a veggie burger option, as well as milkshakes, regular fries and truffle fries. All burgers are served on brioche buns. A specialty item on the menu is the “Fugget About It” – a burger served with breaded roasted red peppers, pepper jack cheese, provolone cheese and crispy bacon. Chef Daniel Diaz, classically trained in New York, is the operator of Beef Boyz.
Taco Vibez serves authentic Mexican items, such as tacos, quesadillas, burritos, bowls (chicken, pork, steak or veggie), freshly made tortilla chips and guacamole, salsas and churros. The popular birria tacos are made with shredded beef slow cooked for four hours and served with a consommé dipping sauce made from the juices. Hector Torres runs Taco Vibez, and is also director of operations for the food hall.
Mama Mia features old-style authentic Italian dishes prepared by chef Salvatore Spina, who was the owner of Casareccio Italian Trattoria in Pompano Beach. At Mama Mia’s, Spina and his partner Emylene Egusquiza offer a variety of pasta, soups and salads. Appetizers include fried burrata and arancini (rice balls). One of their most popular items is the pappardelle porcini salsiccia (pasta with mushrooms and sausage).
Ceviche Time features Peruvian cuisine, with a spotlight on ceviche, the main dish of the Peruvian culture – fish marinated and cooked in lime juice, served with red onions, cilantro, Peruvian corn and sweet potato. The menu also highlights chaufa (Peruvian fried rice), which has a base sauce made of ginger, red peppers, green onions, and soy-mushroom sauce, and can be mixed with chicken, steak, seafood or veggies. Ceviche Time in The Bite Eatery is the first location for co-owners Gabriel Trimarchi and Angelo Intoccia.
Abuelita’s Cuban Bistro is the newest vendor to join The Bite Eatery, and will open in the next couple of weeks. The owner, Ivette Mainquist, will serve authentic Cuban cuisine, using recipes passed down from her family. The menu will feature sandwiches, bowls, empanadas, specialty Cuban milkshakes and daily specials. Breakfast will also be served, starting at 7am. Mainquist has worked in the restaurant industry, but this is her first location for a Cuban concept.
Moop Gelato serves homemade gelato and gelato popsicles (moop pops). The gelato can be served in a cup or homemade waffle cone, or can purchased by the pint to-go, with a selection of toppings to choose from. The menu currently features 12 flavors of gelato and 14 flavors of popsicles, as well as pastries and coffee. The owner, Javier Cavanna, also has a Moop Gelato food truck, servicing mostly Broward County. This is his first brick-and-mortar location.
The Bite Bar, which is in the center of the food hall and has 36 seats, provides the alcohol for the entire establishment and most of the beverages as well. Specialty cocktails include the key lime martini, which tastes like key lime pie. The drinks menu also features frozen drinks – piña coladas, mojitos, margaritas and dirty lemonade – and a variety of wines and beers, including local labels. Christina Lee is the bar manager, a third generation Broward native who has been in the service hospitality industry for over 20 years. “It’s an absolute passion of mine,” said Lee. “I love what I do, and I’m ready to make the community happy.”