Beer and bars changing the face of downtown Boynton Beach
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 21:15

anger Sean Inglehart mixes a drink at Sweetwater in Boynton Beach. The bar specializes in pre-Prohibition era cocktails and makes from scratch most of their mixers and infusions used in their drinks. They also offer select craft beer.

 BOYNTON BEACH— There’s a frothy, hoppy renaissance underway in Boynton Beach as the city tries to make a new name for itself. Its ever-popular marketing tool? Beer.

A city known for its retirement communities is emerging as a libation destination with the opening of bars such as Sweetwater and The Backyard, and Due South, a microbrewery now distributing throughout the area. More are on the way.

“It’s the last place you’d expect to find a bar like this,” said Steve Sleeper, 50, of Boynton Beach, drinking a beer under a tiki hut at The Backyard. The surrounding neighborhood is populated by vacant buildings, weedy lots and a former strip club. But the Key West-style décor at 511 NE 4th Street would make Jimmy Buffet feel at home. Down the street, at 1507 S. Federal Highway, Sweetwater Bar and Grill styles itself after a prohibition-era speakeasy, though it occupies a strip mall.

“If you find us, you’re obviously looking for something cool, and you’re going to bring your cool friends,” said Sean Iglehart, 27, a Delray Beach resident and part-owner of Sweetwater. Most of Boynton’s new bars, opened or coming soon, pride themselves on serving local and craft beer. Sweetwater does not sell Budweiser or many common liquors, including Patron tequila and Grey Goose vodka. Bartenders sometimes blend mixers with a pestle and mortar. “The trend in craft beer locales in Boynton Beach reflects the trend in younger families moving to the city looking for unique venues,” said Vivian Brooks, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The CRA, an arm of the city government, is betting on beer, liquor and food to resuscitate a lifeless downtown. It has spent more than $220,000 helping get four restaurants up and running. The agency even relocated a cottage — for $350,000 — to put it where they wanted, on East Ocean Avenue, a budding entertainment strip. The Little House is moving in to serve lunch, dinner and dozens of craft beer on tap. It’s expected to open this month. “I know I definitely plan to play with my neighbors,” said Chrissy Benoit, the restaurant’s owner. “I’m planning on pub crawls, scavenger hunts and things like that.” Due South Brewery, west of Interstate 95 on High Ridge Road, opened in May and already is on the neighborhood taps (Sweetwater got a new keg shipment Friday). Biergarten, a European-style tavern, will open on South Federal Highway in October, just in time for Octoberfest, said its owner, Alessandro Silvestri. The main attraction: seven table taps. Patrons can pour their own beer, billed by the ounce.

Such interesting bars are a welcome sight for Mary Goodson, 50, who has lived in Boynton Beach for 24 years. She was growing tired of the same old weekend itinerary. “It’s taken a long time to get here,” Goodson said. “When I first came here in 1988, it was nothing but farm land. It’s a nice change. We need it.”

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Boynton Beach Redevelopment Agency
710 N. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach FL 33435


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