Angelo Elia’s Restaurant Apparently Failing Just Months After Opening. “The food is too Italian.”
Some Homeowners Outraged At Plan To Invite Outsiders Into Community Following Huge Spend To Increase Security. But Others Say “These People Are Never Happy.”
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — In the gated community of Seven Bridges in West Delray Beach, where a $7M religious discrimination case against the HOA continues in federal court, the Board of Directors is facing anger from homeowners who say members must resign amidst questionable expenditures and practices. But those close to the situation say the problem is self-absorbed homeowners who are never happy with anything and are always calling for the board’s ousting.
Homeowners contacting BocaNewsNow.com say a board recall effort may be initiated in the coming days.
Just weeks after approving hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new security company to better keep non-residents out of the community, the board is preparing to open the very gates it tried to more effectively close. The goal: permitting non-homeowners to use its apparently failing restaurant, Casa D’Angelo, in an effort to save the operation.
Casa D’Angelo, part of the empire of popular celebrity chef Angelo Elia, was brought into Seven Bridges with great fanfare just months ago. But the Italian-themed restaurant by Elia, considered one of South Florida’s most respected chefs, is failing in the 701 home community. The issue: the owners of million dollar homes say the food is too expensive and “too Italian,” according to a community-wide email obtained by BocaNewsNow.com.
Elia is known for his upscale Italian restaurants in South Florida and Las Vegas.
Angelo Elia declined to comment on restaurant issues when contacted by BocaNewsNow.com through his publicist, Michelle Soudry, Tuesday morning. Soudry denied that Elia has immediate plans to vacate. Both Elia and the Seven Bridges Community sought — and received — coverage from BocaNewsNow.com when the restaurant was announced in November.
But a community-wide email states the restaurant — considered to be the first celebrity chef restaurant in a non-country club community anywhere in the United States — can’t survive on what the Seven Bridges homeowners are prepared to spend.
“The interests and preferences in this community as it relates to the menu is so wide-reaching it is hard to summarize,” wrote directors. “However, the average check size per person is $24 which gives us a clear indication as to how much our residents are willing to spend and what type of food items the clear majority prefer…(to) make our residents happy, (the restaurant) must make substantial menu modifications to focus on a more casual dining offering. This means, more wraps, more sandwiches, more salads, more casual everything.”
Restaurants have been problematic for Seven Bridges since the community was built by GL Homes starting in 2016. If Casa D’Angelo departs, it will lead the community to search for its fourth restaurant operator in just 16 months. Previous vendors — and Casa D’Angelo workers — have complained of rude, sometimes violent homeowners unhappy with service or food offerings. The apparent failure of three vendors raises the question of whether a full service restaurant belongs in a non-country club community.
“These residents are people who fell in love with the idea of community that looks like a country club while flying on discount JetBlue tickets,” said a homeowner — referring to GL’s advertising campaign on JetBlue flights between New York and Florida. “These are people who like the idea of fine dining so long as someone else is paying for it.”
“These are people who fell in love with the idea of community that looks like a country club while flying on discount JetBlue tickets,” said a homeowner — referring to GL’s advertising campaign on JetBlue flights between New York and Florida. “These are people who like the idea of fine dining so long as someone else is paying for it.”
The messaging from directors supports the assertion.
“It is hard to believe that after only 6 months, we are considering a need to rebrand the restaurant,” wrote the board of directors. “The Casa D’Angelo name is symbolic of “fine dining”, and it have become abundantly clear from resident comments and the data we reviewed … that our residents are not willing to support that. It is unfair to Angelo Elia to use his fine dining brand to serve mainly comfort and casual foods.”
Someone close to management of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous, tells BocaNewsNow.com that this is an inflection point for homeowners in the community.
“There are some very good people here,” said the person, “but there is a huge group that is never happy with anything. They act like spoiled four year olds who want the flashy thing they see on TV, only to tire of it and want something else ten minutes after they get it. They believed the flashy marketing with no ability to process reality. If their leased Tesla doesn’t tell them what to do, they can’t do it. It is hard to believe that board members, who they always want to remove, volunteer their time to help people who will never like anything.”
Several homeowners say they are preparing to initiate a recall effort for all board members. Among their complaints, rising HOA dues — topping $10k a year — and a plan to open the gates to neighboring communities for restaurant access in a last-ditch effort to keep Casa D’Angelo in business.
“We will be honoring the request of Casa’s Management Team to offer residents of Boca Bridges, Lotus and The Bridges the ability to dine-in at our restaurant or utilize take-out,” wrote the board.
That doesn’t sit well with homeowners who say the board is failing in its fiduciary responsibility to homeowners.
“This board spent a ton of money to prepare the restaurant for Elia, and just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to change security companies because too many outsiders were coming in,” said another homeowner. “Now we’re going to welcome in the public to save our private Italian restaurant that other homeowners say is too Italian? I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.”
As the community grapples with the restaurant issue, a federal judge ruled that one count of a $7M discrimination lawsuit against the Seven Bridges HOA can continue. A homeowner, who is not Jewish, says she was discriminated against by a previous board that her attorneys claim was largely Jewish. While the board sanctioned her for what it considered unacceptable behavior, the board took no action against a Jewish woman who allegedly harassed the plaintiff and told her to move to a “Klan community.”
/DISCLOSURE: BocaNewsNow.com, owned by MetroDesk Media, LLC, covers issues in communities across South Florida. MetroDesk Media LLC’s managing member has an ownership interest in Seven Bridges, but that interest does not affect our reporting, as evidenced by our coverage of lawsuits, arrests, indictments and other issues within the Seven Bridges community. Board actions in every community are under extreme scrutiny following the collapse of Champlain Tower South in Surfside, FL. Share your community tips by using the form, below./
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