WELLINGTON THE MAGAZINE – May 2024

Page 35

AN EYE FOR EQUINE ART

Fine Art Photographer

Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004 MAY 2024
Planned Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project Takes Shape Meet Mall At Wellington Green General Manager Asad Sadiq Gabriel Finocchietti & Dennis Witkowski On Early Restaurants Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine Opens In The Western Communities
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AN EYE FOR EQUINE ART

Every year during the winter season, Wellington is home to many specialists in the equestrian world. Among the visitors this year was Irina Kazaridi, a fine art photographer who specializes in equestrian and polo photography. BY MIKE MAY

FALLEN FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL PROJECT

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project will create a Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park at Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue headquarters on Pike Road. Included at the memorial park will be a statue honoring those who have given their lives in service to the community. Learn how you can support this worthy project. BY

MANAGING THE MALL

Asad Sadiq, general manager of the Mall At Wellington Green, enjoys his job helping retailers and residents. Sadiq has always had a knack for numbers, a thirst for technology and a fervor for marketing.

HSS DONATION TO SUPPORT FLORIDA TRAUMA CARE

The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) recently announced a $2 million contribution from HSS Trustee Marina Kellen French, and her daughter Annabelle Garrett of Wellington, to endow the trauma directorship at HSS Florida in West Palm Beach.

Wellington is currently developing its Vision Zero Action Plan. This plan will guide policies with the goal of eliminating traffic crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries. BY JIM BARNES

WELLINGTON HISTORY

This month, Wellington History features two longtime restaurateurs who have served up great comfort food for decades — Gabriel Finocchietti and Dennis Witkowski. BY JOSHUA MANNING

WELLINGTON TABLE

Expanding the local culinary scene, a unique take on Indian street food has arrived in the western communities with the recent opening of Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine.

On our cover this month is world-renowned equine fine art photographer Irina Kazaridi, who was recently in Wellington for the season and is also profiled in this issue. We also feature the planned Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project being led by the Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County. This is such an amazing initiative that will honor those who have given their lives in service to the community. Learn how you can be part of it.

Next, we profile Asad Sadiq, general manager of Wellington’s largest shopping venue, the Mall at Wellington Green. This Chicago transplant enjoys his job helping bring retailers and residents together. We also take a look at expansion plans at the Hospital for Special Surgery, being supported by a donation from Marina Kellen French, and her daughter Annabelle Garrett of Wellington.

In this month’s Wellington Today feature, Village Manager Jim Barnes explains Wellington’s Vision Zero program, designed to dramatically reduce traffic-related crashes that cause fatalities and serious injuries. Our Wellington History series continues with a look at early restaurants in Wellington. We speak with Gabriel Finocchietti of Gabriel’s Café & Grille, Wellington’s oldest restaurant, as well as Dennis Witkowski, founder of the iconic Cobblestones. Finally, Wellington Table visits Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine, which brings a unique take on Indian street food to the western communities.

Congratulations to all the students in the Class of 2024 who are graduating this month. We are so proud of all your accomplishments and look forward to seeing all that you achieve in the future!

contents May 2024 Features 8 10 12 14 16 18 GPL Brings Fun And Flair To Patagones Polo Club Interact Club Hosts Youth Of Spring Arts Festival Garden Club Hosts Tour Of Area Horse Farms Wellington’s Egg Hunt Brings Families To Park Sugar Sugar Celebrates Grand Opening Event Wellington Celebrates Earth Day, Arbor Day
THE MAGAZINE Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004 volume 21, number 5 MAY 2024
WELLINGTON
20 Fine art photographer Irina Kazaridi stands in front of one of her unique equine art pieces. 30 on the cover Departments WELLINGTON SOCIAL SCENE WELLINGTON TODAY
39 24 35 wellington the magazine | may 2024 7 from the publisher 30 47 35 42 47 39 42

The 2024 Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, was held Saturday, April 6 at the Patagones Polo Club in Wellington. At the signature event of the Gay Polo League, the Senator’s Cup winner was Cherry Knoll Farm, while the Founder’s Cup winner was Goshen Hill. Cherry Knoll’s Gus Larrosa was named MVP. Tournament beneficiary the Elton John AIDS Foundation received a $100,000 donation. Tailgate winners were Douglas Elliman for Best in Show, the McEnhoes for Best Food, Billy Vitucci’s Peacocks for Best Dressed, Willy Wonka for Best Theme, the Village of Wellington for Best Corporate Tailgate and an Honorable Mention for the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida.

8 may 2024 | wellington the magazine wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY JOSHUA MANNING GPL
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(Left to right) Kim Gibbons and Cindy Collins at the Village of Wellington tailgate; Mark Rolfe and Dana Susi; Susie Oliver, Marilyn Sherman and Mickey Render at the USTA tailgate; Christine DiRocco and Jennifer Martinez; Any Vancea and Haley Marguerite; and Rhonda Williams and Meredith Ockman Tache of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council with Abby Louis of the Supervisor of Elections Office. (Left) Cameron Gaynor and Adam Glick of the Elton John AIDS Foundation accept a $100,000 donation from Margaret Duprey and Chip McKenney. (Right) Gus Larrosa won the MVP award for the tournament. (Left to right) The Cherry Knoll Farm team won the Senator’s Cup; The Goshen Hill team won the Founder’s Cup; the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida performs; the Douglas Elliman tailgate won for Best in Show; and Adam Glick of the Elton John AIDS Foundation with Gay Polo League founder Chip McKenney. (Left to right) John Greene, Marcus Greene, Haile Pegues and Danielle Gershberg; Brad Jackson with Jim, Kim and Devyn Barnes; Billy Vitucci’s peacock-themed tailgate won for Best Dressed; the Willy Wonka tailgate won for Best Theme; and John and Justine Rossi at the RBC Wealth Management tailgate. (Left to right) Sally Ollarvide and Michelle Ward; Scott Powers, Frederick Hay and Michael Powers enjoy the divot stomp; the McEnhoes tailgate won for Best Food; the patriotic-themed tailgate hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans; and John Foxx, Rebecca Frey and Ernest Olivas at the Emerald Elite Care tailgate.
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INTERACT CLUB HOSTS YOUTH OF SPRING ARTS FEST IN WELLINGTON

The Wellington High School Interact Club hosted the Youth of Spring Arts Festival on Saturday, April 13 at the Wellington Amphitheater. The day was filled with performances by Wellington High School students, which included dance, band, theater, singing, American Sign Language, baton twirling and a fashion show. Students also had the opportunity to showcase their talents with sidewalk chalk art. Proceeds from the event will go to the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County.

10 may 2024 | wellington the magazine wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK KOESTER
(Left to right) Interact Club President Andrea Bustillo on stage; Dr. Tomara Mays of the Homeless Coalition addresses the crowd; WHS students Faith DiMaria, Tracen Touchet, Allison Locker and Isabella Mariani help out at the bounce house; children enjoy the bounce house; and members of Wellington High School BLAST (Black Leadership and Achievement Student Team). (Left to right) Audrey DellaVecchia enjoys sidewalk chalk art; Dylan Garcia with Alexandra and big sister Carla Caba make chalk art; Kristen Benitez performs in American Sign Language; the Wellington High School majorettes on stage; and WHS theater students perform. (Left to right) The Wellington High School Interact Club hosted the festival to support the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County; members of the Wellington High School Chamber Chorus perform; and the Wellington High School dance team on stage. (Left to right) Members of the Wellington High School jazz band perform; Mackenzy Kane with her sidewalk chalk art; sisters Alisha and Ayanna Quashie with their sidewalk chalk art; Kory Abramowitz gets artistic; and Homeless Coalition Executive Assistant Aaliyah Lopez, CEO Dr. Tomara Mays and Director of Development Celissa Stringer.

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THE WELLINGTON GARDEN CLUB HOSTS TOUR OF AREA HORSE FARMS

The Wellington Garden Club hosted a self-guided tour of five unique horse stable locations on Saturday, April 6. The locations taking part in the tour were: Mida Farms, Helgstrand Dressage USA, Santa Rita Polo Farm, River Run Farm and Eagle Tree Farm. Guests enjoyed refreshments, vendors, self-guided tours and a raffle. The raffle included a carriage ride at Mida Farms with champion Clydesdale horses. Proceeds will go to support the club’s college scholarships and youth summer environmental camps, civic beautification projects, youth garden clubs and other community projects.

(Left to right) Wellington Garden Club members Tara Hunter, Linda Messina, Kristi Westrup, Carol Ralph, Jan Seagrave, Susan Hillson and Carol Dima; Terrianne Tuskes gets a kiss from one of the Clydesdales at Mida Farms; Audrey Ruttura is impressed by the sheer size of the Clydesdales at Mida Farms; and Mida Farms owner Victoria McCullough with Summit.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK KOESTER
(Left to right) Dan and Ellyn Cohen with Paul and Laura Fever at Mida Farms; Helgstrand Dressage USA specializes in dressage and show jumping; Candice Klee, one of the vendors at Helgstrand, with orchids; attendees set out on a self-guided golf cart ride at Santa Rita Polo Farm; and guests stop to visit with horses at Santa Rita Polo Farm.

WELLINGTON’S EGG HUNT BRINGS MANY FAMILIES TO VILLAGE PARK

The Village of Wellington held its annual Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30 at Village Park. Several hundred people attended the familyfriendly event. Christ Fellowship Church handed out breakfast and snacks as people waited for the event to begin. The Egg Hunt was divided into four age groups. Children hunted for eggs, also hoping to find the special eggs with winning tickets in them.

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(Left to right) Emilia and Victoria McGovern, Councilman John McGovern, Mayor Anne Gerwig, Luca Napoleone, Mayor-Elect Michael Napoleone and Councilman Michael Drahos with the Easter Bunny; Brandon, Gabriela and Brandon Sharp with the Easter Bunny; Josh Warning with Lilah Warning, who found a winning ticket; and Mia Willingham dons matching bunny ears to go with her bunny basket.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK KOESTER
(Left to right) Melissa, Jose and Martina Zuniga at the egg hunt; Autumn Mastrapa collects eggs in her basket; Mimi Le opens the eggs she found; Fatima Lezano, Silvia Frago and Jose Frago; and Ariana Dong and Silver Cheng play with bubbles.

SUGAR SUGAR CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING EVENT IN WELLINGTON

New hair removal salon Sugar Sugar hosted its grand opening in Wellington on Thursday, April 4. Owner Lynette Meglio cut the ribbon with Wellington Chamber of Commerce members and village officials in attendance. Guests also enjoyed local vendors, a photo booth, food and beverages, and demonstrations given by staff. Sugar Sugar is located in the Wellington Town Center plaza at 11924 W. Forest Hill Blvd. To learn more, call (561) 217-8427 or visit www.mysugarsugar.com/locations/wellington.

16 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
(Left to right) Owner Lynette Meglio and her husband Patrick cut the ribbon during the grand opening; Sugar Sugar staff members Maddi Schuett, Nancy Roth, owner Lynette Meglio, Morgan Ohlen and Diane Devorin; Cheyenne Graham of Hawaii Fluid Art (left) gives a demo to Layne Pazzaglia and Christy Brown; and Councilwoman Amanda Silvestri, Sugar Sugar owner Lynette Meglio and Councilwoman Maria Antuña.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK
(Left to right) Maddi Schuett demonstrates the Sugar Sugar process on Gabby and Meredith Schneider; Jordana Schwartz gets some skin art and tattoos from Giavanna Fioravanti; former Mayor Anne Gerwig with Lynette and Patrick Meglio; Morgan Ohlen does a demo sugar wax on Adam Haas; and owner Lynette Meglio cuts a cake to celebrate the grand opening.
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WELLINGTON CELEBRATES EARTH DAY, ARBOR DAY AT AMPHITHEATER

The Village of Wellington hosted its Earth Day and Arbor Day event on Saturday, April 20 at the Wellington Amphitheater. The free event included vendors and educational tents hosted by local businesses and nonprofits, as well as the planting of a red maple tree by the newly reconfigured Wellington Village Council. The annual FLOWER Award went to Wellington Garden Club member Lisa Ferrano. Local scouts participated in the Great American Cleanup and also planted 100 trees in Olympia Park prior to the celebration. The event included several plant giveaways.

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(Left to right) Vice Mayor John McGovern, Councilwoman Maria Antuña, Mayor Michael Napoleone, Councilwoman Amanda Silvestri and Councilwoman Tanya Siskind plant a red maple tree; Lisa Ferrano is awarded the Fabulous Landscapes of Wellington Earning Recognition (FLOWER) Award by Will Gurney and Debbie Evans; Fallon Sands shows off her butterfly artwork; and Wellington Art Society members Jan Gmitter and Kim DiGiacomo.
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(Left to right) Wellington’s Geneeka Morris provides refreshments to volunteers; Councilwoman Maria Antuña with children during the butterfly release; Wellington’s Augustine Vargas, Landscape Superintendent Will Gurney and Sam Ramos give away seedlings; Parks & Recreation Director Eric Juckett and Program Coordinator Rick Febles; and the Wellington Village Council with Smokey Bear.
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A EXPERT EYE FOR EQUINE ART

International Fine Art

Photographer Irina Kazaridi

Is A Master With The Camera

Every year during the winter season, Wellington is home of many specialists in the equestrian world — riders, owners, trainers, grooms, breeders, coaches, journalists and more. Among the visitors are world-renowned equestrian photographers, and this year, that group included Irina Kazaridi, a fine art photographer who specializes in equestrian and polo photography.

Kazaridi hails from Beaulieu-sur-Mer,

a scenic town in the south of France located between Nice and Monaco.

Recently, Kazaridi spent two months in Wellington, and she was not alone.

“My family joined me on this trip, so we combined it with a holiday,” she explained.

During the trip, she was able to mix business with pleasure.

“The main reason for coming to Wellington was the Winter Equestrian Fes-

tival, a unique and beautiful event that reunites the most elegant equestrian society and their most amazing horses,” Kazaridi said. “I had two small exhibitions of my work planned. One was at the beautiful private equestrian property in Wellington, Double A Stables, and another at the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami. It was a great opportunity to showcase my work.”

Kazaridi has been taking photographs

20 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
(Below) A sampling of new release fine art prints from Irina Kazaridi’s horse print collection.

and showcasing her unique work for more than 10 years.

“I’ve been in the equestrian photography business since 2013, starting with polo in Saint-Tropez, which is near my home,” Kazaridi said. “Over the past 11 years, I’ve traveled the world to the most beautiful equestrian events.”

She excels in taking pictures of a wide variety of equine subjects.

“I photograph all types of horses, in-

cluding jumpers, dressage, polo and racing horses,” Kazaridi explained.

She specializes in taking pictures of horses because of the appeal of the unexpected.

“I am drawn to taking pictures of horses because of the unpredictability of shooting, and the excitement of chasing the perfect shot,” Kazaridi said. “It’s also satisfying to see my works adorn the most sophisticated interiors.”

“I am drawn to taking pictures of horses because of the unpredictability of shooting, and the excitement of chasing the perfect shot.”

Irina Kazaridi

While Kazaridi knows how to take great pictures, her ability to bring that photo to life, so to speak, is what makes her artwork uniquely special.

“My specialty is creating fine art portraits for interior décor, and I collaborate with designers worldwide,” Kazaridi said.

One of Kazaridi’s biggest fans is equestrian Ariane Stiegler, president of Double A Stables in Wellington.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 21

“What caught my eye was how she reached into horses’ souls and photographed them in a very unusual way — portraying only parts of their anatomy,” Stiegler said. “Her prints are large, extremely powerful and decorative. I knew when I called her that her uniqueness would set her apart from all traditional photographers in the United States and worldwide. I truly believe she is one of a kind.”

Kazaridi’s latest project is a new and different kind of equine pictorial.

“Now, I’m working on my new book of fine art photographs of the white wild horses of Camargue,” Kazaridi said. “It’s in the Provence region, in the south of France.”

Stiegler knows that Kazaridi’s new project will be well received by the general public, especially by horse lovers.

“She is extremely creative and her new endeavor of shooting horses in Camargue and putting together a book will propel her to new heights,” Stiegler said.

To learn more about the equine fine art photography of Irina Kazaridi, visit www. horseprintcollection.com.

22 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
Irina Kazaridi’s horse print collection can be found at www.horseprintcollection.com.

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FALLEN FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL PROJECT

Retired Firefighters

Group Raising Money To Honor

All Those Who Have Made The Ultimate Sacrifice

The Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County have a long history of projects that give back to the community, and that includes the nonprofit’s current effort toward creating a memorial to honor fallen firefighters.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project will create a Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park at Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue headquarters on Pike Road. Included at the memorial park will be a statue honoring those who have given their lives in service to the community.

“We are always giving back to the community,” said Vicki Sheppard, president of the Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County. “We looked at what would be our fundraiser this year, and we have decided to give back to our fallen firefighters, creating something local to honor them.”

This unique project serves two purposes: design and designate the Fallen

Firefighter Memorial Park, which will contain a Fallen Firefighter statue, and to provide financial assistance for the families of fallen firefighters to attend national and state ceremonies honoring their heroes.

“The fallen firefighters’ statue in a memorial park seemed like a wonderful, lasting tribute to the fallen firefighter families,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard noted that many Palm Beach County firefighters have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving their community. To honor them, the Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County partnered with the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County Local 2928 I.A.F.F. Inc. to create this memorial project, which will honor fallen firefighters from all departments in the county. The organizations have held fundraisers to bring this project to fruition but are also reaching out to the

community for financial support.

Fallen firefighters are those who have died as a result of occupational injuries or diseases, including heart and lung issues, and specific types of cancers. The local Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park will provide a central venue for ceremonies where fallen firefighter families will be honored and recognized for their sacrifices.

Firefighting is recognized globally as one of the most dangerous professions. In the United States, about 45 percent of firefighters’ on-duty deaths are due to cardiovascular events.

In addition, firefighters have a nine percent higher risk of an occupational cancer diagnosis and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from an occupational cancer than the general population.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 25
The planned memorial park will be at a roundabout at Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue headquarters.

The Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County acknowledge the dangers of firefighting and the unacceptably high rates that active and retired firefighters are passing away and believe that these sacrifices need to be memorialized locally.

“This project is important because the fallen firefighter families have given so much. Their spouses have given so much to serve the community. They lost their spouses at relatively young ages. The average age for our firefighter cancers deaths is 58 years old,” Sheppard said. “We try to make sure that they are remembered.”

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue is the primary agency providing lifesaving services for residents here in the western communities. A number of local families have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

In 2008, PBCFR Capt. Butch Smith, who worked in The Acreage, was diagnosed with Stage 4 multiple myeloma and was initially given two years to live.

Smith took his cancer fight public, determined to raise awareness on firefighter cancers through fundraising events. For nearly nine years, he fought through stem cell therapy, hospital admissions and releases, rounds of chemotherapy and other procedures. Meanwhile, his annual fundraiser provided more than $250,000 to local charities. In 2017, Smith passed as valiantly as he lived.

In Royal Palm Beach, firefighters who merged into PBCFR from the village’s independent fire department in 1999 included Fire Marshal Tom Vreeland and Training Capt. Dave Haggerty. They passed away in 2011 and 2017,

respectively, from occupational cancers.

In Wellington, fallen firefighters to heart disease and occupational cancers included Capt. Earl Wooten in 2019. Prior to his death, Wooten and his wife Mary donated the Fallen Firefighter Remembrance Table that the Retired Firefighters use at their gatherings to remember “those who have gone before us.” Mary Wooten is now supporting the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project. “A lot of people don’t have contact with firerescue families and don’t know what has happened to these guys,” Wooten said.

She urged people from across the community to support this worthy project. “During their lives, the retired firefighters have given their all to help the community,” Wooten said. “They run in as people run out to help people and save lives. It is about time that everybody learns what these gentlemen did.”

Carrying on the family legacy, Wooten’s son, Earl II, is the fire chief at Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, while another son, John, works as a firefighter at Highlands County Fire Rescue.

Heart disease and cancers can affect all firefighters, regardless of department. In 2012, Eric Patrie from Delray Beach Fire Rescue passed away at age 37 from brain cancer. In 2023, Capt. Brian Wolnewitz passed away at the age of 44 from lung cancer, even though he never smoked.

Wolnewitz, a father of four, was a 20-year veteran of Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue and was told by his doctors that his cancer came from breathing in toxins while on the job as a firefighter. During his two-year battle with cancer, he raised awareness of firefighter cancers and fought to advance treatments so that others might benefit from his journey.

“These heroes selflessly gave everything they had to protect us and our neighbors,” his widow Julie Wolnewitz said. “By building a memorial here in Palm Beach County, we ensure that no one forgets the courage, bravery and ded-

ication of our firefighters. It also gives the families and friends of the fallen a place to honor their loved ones. Many of these firefighters have young children, including mine. A local memorial is something that our children can be proud of, knowing that their dad or mom was a true hero that the community respects and will never forget.”

PBCFR’s Battalion 2 covers the western communities and is led by District Chief Amanda Vomero.

“The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Project is unlike any other memorial we have in our area,” Vomero said. “The lifelike statue holding a folded flag over the kneeling or fallen firefighter is a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who chose to serve their community. They chose to put the safety and needs of their neighbors over their own.”

She believes this is a great way to honor those who gave their lives.

“Every time the family, friends and co-workers of the fallen look at the memorial, they will feel pride and gratitude, knowing the community they served supported them and are thankful for the sacrifices made,” Vomero said.

In 2014, PBCFR took the lead on firefighter cancer prevention by organizing a new cancer prevention and research team called FACE (Firefighters Attacking the Cancer Epidemic). FACE formed a successful partnership with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.

Departments from all over South Florida came on board, and the first Florida firefighter cancer study was launched, known as the Firefighter Cancer Initiative (FCI). FCI was the catalyst to what is now the Firefighter Cancer Law, adopted in 2019 to provide assistance to firefighters with specific cancers. Firefighter cancer prevention now includes standard procedures such as post-fire decontamination, fireground air monitoring and annual medical screenings.

26 may 2024 | wellington the magazine

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There is a national fallen firefighter memorial statue in Emmitsburg, Maryland, at the National Fire Academy, as well as a fallen firefighter memorial statue in Ocala at the Florida State Fire College and in Tallahassee at the Florida State Capitol. The I.A.F.F. Inc. has a fallen firefighter memorial statue in Colorado Springs. But there is currently no statue or memorial park in Palm Beach County to honor the sacrifices of fallen firefighters and their families.

The Retired Firefighters and Local 2928 plan to donate a fallen firefighter

DON’T FORGET MOM!

memorial statue to Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, the county’s largest fire department. To accomplish this, they worked with Art in Public Places to design the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park with a bronze statue at the entrance to PBCFR headquarters at 405 Pike Road, located at the roundabout in front of the Chief Herman Brice Headquarters and Regional Training Center.

“We thought that was a great spot with so many people coming to it. They can see the dangers of firefighting and pay tribute to those who have already fallen,” Sheppard said.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park will provide a centerpiece and visual reminder to the fallen firefighter families, current fire service members and the community to recognize the dangers of firefighting, strive for health and wellness prevention, and reinforce the solemn oath to never forget those who have been lost.

SERVING WELLINGTON AND THE PALM BEACHES

Sheppard noted that Florida Power & Light, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Baptist Health South Florida are key supporters of the project, and she invited others from the community to get involved as well.

“The firefighters are there to protect everyone in their time of need, and I think it is nice when the community can support firefighters in their time of need,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to support your firefighters and the community.”

The project is expected to be complete in the last quarter of 2024 or the first quarter of 2025. Donations to support the project are being accepted through the Retired Firefighters of Palm Beach County, a nonprofit organization.

To learn more about the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park and how you can become involved, visit www.ffmemorial. com.

WELLINGTON’S LOCAL FLORIST SINCE 1991

28 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
30 may 2024 | wellington the magazine

MANAGING THE MALL

Asad Sadiq, General Manager Of The Mall

At Wellington Green, Enjoys His Job Helping Retailers And Residents

Asad Sadiq has always had a knack for numbers, a thirst for technology and a fervor for marketing. So, it should not be too surprising that he ended up as general manager of Wellington’s largest shopping venue.

“Looking back,” Sadiq said, “it’s almost as if I was destined for this career path.”

Sadiq is the general manager of the Mall at Wellington Green, a 1.2 millionsquare-foot, two-level, regional shopping destination featuring more than 160 retail stores, dining destinations and entertainment outlets, anchored by Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney, City Furniture/ Ashley Furniture and CMX Cinemas. He has served in his current role since July 2021.

Growing up in Chicago, Sadiq was the oldest of three children. His father was a professional electrician and drove a limousine as a side hustle for 15 years. That side hustle would also help Sadiq pay for college at DePaul University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in finance and commerce.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 31
PHOTO BY TRACEY BENSON PHOTOGRAPHY Mall at Wellington Green General Manager Asad Sadiq.

“I would drive for my dad for a semester, save my money, then be able to pay tuition the following semester,” Sadiq recalled. “It was really a great gig.”

He also learned the value of customer service in that role, which is an integral part of his current position.

“Working in a retail environment and interacting with our tenants and guests can be challenging at times,” Sadiq explained. “But I often find it to be the most rewarding part of what I do. Helping our merchants — particularly our small, independent retailers — achieve their dream of opening a store is easily the part of my job I love the most.”

Sadiq has more than 15 years of CSuite-level accounting experience in both the public and private sectors. He previously served as property accountant for Starwood Retail Partners, a division of Starwood Capital Group, then transitioned into property management, first as the assistant general manager of Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Indiana, then at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, Michigan, both Starwood properties.

The Mall at Wellington Green is managed by the New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group (www.spinosoreg. com), which oversees operations of more than 74.9 million square feet of enclosed malls throughout the United States. Spinoso brings a creative, entrepreneurial approach to real estate development and management, delivering and sustaining successful projects across a wide range of property types across the country. This portfolio includes work on hundreds of enclosed shopping malls, lifestyle centers and large-scale retail projects.

When he’s not leading his management teams to achieve sales and NOI (net operating income) goals with the latest innovation and technology, Sadiq is likely to be found cooking; enjoying a polo match with his wife Sadfeen and two daughters, Summer and Ellie; or volunteering his time as the leader of Switch, a weekly mentoring program for high school boys at Life.Church in Wellington.

“I’m extremely blessed to have an opportunity to mentor these incredible middle school and high school kids,”

Sadiq said. “Programs like these are essential to help these kids find and build strength in their mind and soul, especially in today’s world where there are so many negative distractions.”

Sadiq also recently returned from a humanitarian aid trip to Cuba with Gateway of Hope, a nonprofit organization that funds care centers that distribute medicine and vitamins to children and pregnant women, organizes athletic programs for youth and other services.

Sadiq and his family love living in Wellington and, aside from their go-to dining spots at the Mall at Wellington Green, they do have a couple of local favorites in the community — both not far from his day job at the mall.

“Kaluz has a great kid’s menu, and our girls just love it there,” he said. “Sicilian Oven also never disappoints.”

The Mall at Wellington Green is home to more than 160 stores. The regional shopping destination is located at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington. Mall hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about the Mall at Wellington Green, call (561) 227-6900 or visit www.shopwellingtongreen.com.

32 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
Asad Sadiq with his wife Sadfeen and their two daughters, Summer and Ellie. PHOTO BY DURAN STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY
If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers. By calling this number, you agree to speak with an independent health insurance agent about Medicare Advantage products. Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information. This is an advertisement. Let’s talk about it! Maggie Zeller Office (561) 517-8048 (TTY: 711) Mobile (561) 715-9262 medicaremaggie@gmail.com Medicare Maggie Health Insurance Solutions 12794 Forest Hill Blvd. • Suite 18E Wellington, FL 33414 Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Facebook.com/Medicaremaggie By Appointment Only

HSS DONATION TO SUPPORT FLORIDA TRAUMA CARE

Contribution By Marina Kellen French And Wellington’s Annabelle Garrett Will Boost Growth In The Palm Beach Region

The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) recently announced a $2 million contribution from HSS Trustee Marina Kellen French, and her daughter Annabelle Garrett of Wellington, to endow the trauma directorship at HSS Florida in West Palm Beach, as part of its growth plans.

The announcement of the donation was made earlier this year during a cocktail reception hosted by Palm Beach residents Nick and Barrie Somers with HSS physicians and notable members of the community in attendance.

As a leader of excellence in orthopedics, HSS is dedicated to bringing its world-class musculoskeletal care closer to home for Florida residents. Since the opening of HSS Florida four years ago, the facility has become a top choice for care in sports medicine, joint replacement, hand and upper extremities, physiatry, radiology, trauma and rehabilitation. Clinical leaders at the forefront of orthopedic research and care ensure a high level of expertise from

diagnosis through treatment and recovery.

Most recently, spine surgeon Dr. Zachary J. Grabel and hand and upper extremity surgeon Dr. Matthew A. Butler were welcomed to the team. Continued collaboration among colleagues across the organization to pioneer cutting-edge treatments with the use of robotics, machine learning, regenerative medicine and wearable technology allows for continued optimization of patient outcomes.

“Our growth strategy underscores our commitment to providing accessible, high-quality healthcare to Floridians in new ways and in new places,” said Tara McCoy, CEO of HSS Florida. “We will utilize our knowledge and expertise to establish clinical collaborations and partner with other organizations, like the new HSS partnership at Naples Community Hospital, to extend our reach and impact across the state and southern region.”

HSS is the world’s leading academic

medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is the Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 2 in rheumatology, and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Founded in 1863, the hospital has the lowest readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics and among the lowest infection and complication rates. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida.

In addition to patient care, HSS is a leader in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through the prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 35
HSS Florida is located on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. in West Palm Beach.

In addition, more than 200 HSS clinical investigators are working to improve patient outcomes through better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat orthopedic, rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices, while the HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees and consumers in over 165 countries.

Learn more about HSS at www.hss. edu. For more information about HSS Florida, visit www.hss.edu/florida.

(Top row) Barrie and Nicholas Somers with Dr. Bryan Kelly; Susan and Bob Wright; Danielle and Vahan Gureghian; and Suzanne and Michael Ainslie. (Middle row) Ellen and Joseph “Dan” Lugosch; Dr. David Altchek and Jeff Wilpon; Faith and Dr. Peter Linden; and Dr. Zach Grabel and Dr. Matt Butler. (Bottom row) Tara McCoy and Dr. Douglas Padgett; Bill Dilts and Aimee Merszei; Cornelia Thornburgh; and Vladimir Torgovnik and Tad Smith.

36 may 2024 | wellington the magazine www.pbaquatics.com
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The Village of Wellington is currently developing a Vision Zero Action Plan. This plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating traffic crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries. Let’s learn more about what this means for residents.

VISION ZERO ACTION PLAN

The Village Of Wellington Has An Ambitious Goal Aimed At Eliminating Traffic Fatalities

I remember when automobile drivers and passengers could legally choose not to wear seat belts. Similarly, and almost unfathomably by today’s standards, automobile drivers were once able to consume alcohol while driving. Thankfully, legislators took away these choices. Additionally, in 2009, the law which makes it illegal to be unrestrained while riding in a car became a primary law. This means that you can be pulled over and issued a citation simply if you are not wearing your seatbelt. But the result — thousands of lives saved, and serious injuries prevented — has undoubtedly been worth giving up the dubious freedom to go beltless.

Better Vision

Today, as we see roadway fatalities rising and a disturbing 50-percent increase

in pedestrian deaths during roughly the last decade nationwide, many transportation professionals are re-doubling their efforts using “Vision Zero,” an approach that has been successfully embraced in several states during the last two decades. This fundamentally new mindset envisions a transportation system in which most serious crashes are prevented. To achieve this, some of our cherished freedoms — especially the freedom to drive at maximum speeds — must be constrained.

First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has been adopted by the European Union with an intermediary target of a 50-percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Europe already has seen a 36-percent reduction in road deaths from 2010 to 2020.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 39 wellington | today
BY JIM BARNES, WELLINGTON VILLAGE MANAGER

Wellington’s Vision

The Village of Wellington is currently developing a Vision Zero Action Plan. This plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating traffic crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries along Wellington’s roadways. The village’s Vision Zero initiative strives to improve safety for everyone traveling around the community, whether walking, cycling, driving, horseback riding or riding transit, and to improve the identified high-crash injury locations, all in an effort to prevent fatal and severe injury crashes. The Vision Zero Action Plan sets an ambitious long-term goal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries from occurring along Wellington’s roadways. Vision Zero programs prioritize safety over other transportation goals, acknowledge that traffic fatalities and serious injuries are preventable, and incorporate a multidisciplinary Safe System approach.

The core belief of Vision Zero is that fatal and severe injury crashes are unacceptable and preventable. This approach to safety brings together education, data-driven decision-making and community engagement with context-sensitive, people-centric street designs that account for human error, promote slower speeds and improve mobility for all users. With this Vision Zero approach, Wellington’s departments and residents work together to make village streets safer and meet the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries attributable to traffic crashes in Wellington by 2030.

The Wellington Village Council formally adopted Vision Zero, an ambitious commitment to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2030, through Resolution R2022-15 passed in July 2022 mandating a safe systems approach and equitable action plan aimed at saving lives on local roads.

What Is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is an international effort to eliminate all fatal and serious injury traffic crashes. Adopted by dozens of communities across the United States, it is a heartfelt belief that these crashes are preventable, and that changed attitudes and approaches will enable success.

Vision Zero is based on five key principles: Traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable; human life and health are prioritized within all aspects of transportation systems; human error is inevitable and transportation systems should be forgiving; safety work should focus on systems-level change above influencing individual behavior; and speed is recognized as the fundamental factor in crash severity. The program encourages communities to adopt policies and implement programs and procedures that can eliminate the potential for serious injury and fatal traffic-related crashes to occur. Wellington’s goal is to eliminate all of these crashes by 2030.

How Does This Relate To You?

As you think about your family, friends and acquaintances, is there anyone you would be accepting of being killed or seriously injured in a traffic crash? Would you miss them and mourn them? You would not tolerate a baby product to remain on the market if it injured children. You would demand tainted foods that made people sick be removed from grocery stores. You expect that the water you drink is free from contaminants. You have zero tolerance for these and similar things. Yet, in the United States, nearly 40,000 people are killed each year on our roadways. Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal traffic crashes of any state. So, why is this considered acceptable? Frankly, it is not, and we individually and collectively should make changes in our attitudes, expecta-

tions and approaches to achieve the goal of no one being killed or severely injured when traveling along, around and across our roadways.

The village’s Vision Zero Action Plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating fatalities on local roadways. The plan focuses on providing near-term recommendations to rapidly implement safety improvements and begin the systemic changes needed to fully realize Vision Zero. Many recommended engineering treatments, enforcement directives and educational programs can and will be rolled out quickly over the first year. But we also understand that fundamentally improving traffic safety and ending senseless tragedies will require a generational commitment to changing culture, infrastructure and mobility planning.

Input From The Public

The Vision Zero Action Plan requires public outreach as it aims to improve road safety and reduce traffic fatalities, and gathering feedback from the community can help ensure that the plan addresses their concerns and needs. Your input is essential for the success of Wellington’s Vision Zero Action Plan. You can provide us with your concerns regarding traffic and safety on the village’s roads at www.wellingtonvisionzero.com.

With sustained vision and dedication to protecting human life as the top priority, the village believes this ambitious goal of zero severe injuries and death due to preventable crashes can become a reality over the next decade. This action plan provides a comprehensive roadmap to get Wellington to zero. It will require a massive community education effort and also necessitate a paradigm shift in how local government and drivers think about safety — like what we’ve seen with seat belts.

wellington | today
40 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
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EARLY RESTAURANTS IN WELLINGTON

Recollections From Longtime

Wellington Restaurant Owners Gabriel Finocchietti And Dennis Witkowski

This month, Wellington History features two longtime restaurateurs who have served up great comfort food to generations of Wellington residents — Gabriel Finocchietti of Gabriel’s Café & Grille and Dennis Witkowski of the former Cobblestones restaurant.

Today, Wellington is home to a wide array of restaurants, representing all types of cuisines. However, that was not always the case. In its early years, Wellington had precious little to offer those looking for a decent meal outside the home.

Gabriel Finocchietti owns the oldest continually operating restaurant in Wellington. His café in the Wellington Plaza was initially run by the mother-in-law of builder Alan Black, who developed what was then called Wellington Country Plaza, the young community’s first shopping center.

Known as Annamarie’s Café, she ran it for several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s before the Black family moved to Australia. The restaurant changed hands and was known for a time as Angelo’s Café. That was until 1990, when Finocchietti bought the place, and it became Gabriel’s Café & Grille.

“When I moved to Sugar Pond, my neighbor owned Mom’s Kitchen

on Lake Worth Road. I worked at the Breakers. We knew each other for a while. He came to my house and said there was a restaurant for sale down the street,” Finocchietti recalled. “That’s what did it. The deal was good, and I bought it. That was 1990, and we are still here today.”

While the community has grown exponentially during that time, so has the competition.

“When I bought Gabriel’s, there

42 may 2024 | wellington the magazine

were only three breakfast restaurants, and now there are at least eight,” he explained.

Nevertheless, the café has garnered many regular clients through the years, all of whom become part of Finocchietti’s extended family.

“People-wise, there is still a lot of connection because we have known them for 30-plus years,” he said. “We share the good and the bad. That is the main reason why I am still here to today

— the people and the connections.”

And that includes the staff, such as server Laurie Purvis, who has been working there for 33 years. She was working at nearby Squire’s Deli, came

for lunch one day and never left.

“Some of the old generation people are still here,” Finocchietti said. “Now there’s the second generation with the third generation coming in.”

wellington the magazine | may 2024 43 wellington | history
(Inset) Gabriel Finocchietti of Gabriel’s Café & Grille (left) with his staff at the restaurant back in 1998. Several staff members from the 1990s are still working at the café. A Town-Crier photo from the grand opening of Cobblestones, one of Wellington’s earliest restaurants, in December 1982. Shown are Alice Witkowski, owner Dennis Witkowski, partner George Trum and contractor Gene Manning. Also shown at the door is young Ryan Witkowski.

The growth on State Road 7, particularly around the Mall at Wellington Green, has made business more competitive but also brought in more people.

“Now we are looking at Southern Blvd. also getting competitive with traffic and businesses. But the heart of Wellington, where Gabriel’s is located, has not changed that much,” Finocchietti said. “In season, we definitely see more traffic due to the horse industry from January until the end of April. At the same time, that gives 100 percent of the businesses in the community more business this time of the year. Every restaurant or shop or supermarket is increasing its volume.”

He is proud to have spent the last 30 years producing homemade, good quality food that people enjoy almost like it was cooked at home.

“Everything is made fresh, from soup to salads. On our menu, everything is cooked to order,” Finocchietti said. “The menu includes standard breakfast and lunch items, but also some Italian dishes and Hispanic influence to give people a little more variety.”

He particularly likes it when people compliment the food. Popular breakfast items are waffles, omelets and Mama’s Stuffed Egg Crepes. For lunch, people love the burgers, Cuban sub, turkey club, Reuben sandwich and the wide array of salads.

Like the owners of most small businesses, you’ll usually find Finocchietti at the restaurant when it is open.

“The key is dealing with every single consequence. If it was not for me dealing with it, I don’t think it would survive,” explained Finocchietti, who personally manages the restaurant with help from veteran staff members. “A manager, a cashier and a host would take most of the profit away. You have to be able to take care of problems. If the chef is sick, I can go back and cook if necessary. I know all the jobs in this place.”

Meanwhile, life goes on. His two children, Lisa and Gabriel, grew up in the restaurant. They still live locally, along with Finocchietti’s four grandchildren.

“People ask if I get a day off. No, I love to come here. The people who come here are my friends. We talk all about our town,” Finocchietti said. “My wife Darlene and I have redecorated the restaurant through the years. Currently, with a Carolina country décor. It makes the restaurant cozy and homey.”

Fellow restaurateur Dennis Witkowski was a fixture in Wellington during the community’s early years.

“I came to Wellington in 1979. I had just moved down from New York’s Long Island, where I had a saloon in Hampton Bays,” Witkowski recalled. “I got tired of the Long Island winters and moved to my dream destination of West Palm Beach.”

His first trip to Wellington had been the year before, in the winter of 1978. “A couple of buddies of mine invited

me out to play a round of golf at the newly opened Palm Beach Polo golf course,” Witkowski said. “It was the middle of nowhere and seemed like an eternity driving out on Forest Hill Blvd.”

Yet, Wellington is where he ended up working, taking a job as a bartender at the soon-to-be-open Wellington Country Club, now known as the Wanderers Club.

“We opened that club at the end of 1979, I think on New Year’s Eve,” Witkowski said. “It was a remarkable bar. It was the centerpiece of the community of Wellington, which had about 3,000 people at the time.”

Witkowski, who is quite tall, remembers his time as a bartender there fondly.

“It was a sunken bar. It was three feet below the area. My head could barely clear the glass rack,” he said. “People got a look of amazement when they realized how tall I was. Everyone from the community of Wellington gathered there. I particularly remember the newly formed Exchange Club. Everyone who was anyone was a member.”

The club had its weekly meetings and always started with cocktails at the bar, he said. “I got to know all of the who’s who of Wellington very quickly,” Witkowski said, specifically noting early Wellington leaders Frank Gladney, Frank Glass and Bink Glisson. “I held that job a couple of years until I got the opportunity to open Cobblestones.”

Witkowski’s new restaurant was one of the first businesses at the new Town Square shopping plaza when Cobblestones opened on Dec. 3, 1982.

“Up to that point, all we had was one shopping plaza in Wellington,” he said. “At the end of 1982, we had the opening of the original Wellington Mall and Town Square, nearly simultaneously. I was caught with the decision of where to open my restaurant. I chose

44 may 2024 | wellington the magazine wellington | history
Gabriel Finocchietti of Gabriel’s Café & Grille with family members in front of his Wellington restaurant.

to go where Publix was opening, which turned out to be a terrific location. We had an instant hit on our hands.”

Witkowski operated the restaurant until 1994, when he sold it to the Murphy family and, for a while, switched careers to become a financial consultant.

“I’ve had half a dozen restaurants in my life, but that was the star of all of them,” he said of Cobblestones. “I remember it fondly, and so does the community. It was Wellington’s finest restaurant in terms of the community. Everyone in Wellington embraced it and used it.”

Before the place even opened, Witkowski recalls going out to the site and drawing out its layout in the dirt.

“I enjoyed the whole building process — creating something from the ground up,” he said. “It was such a wonderful gathering place for the community. It was a place where we had the owners of the polo teams, polo players and the grooms. It encompassed everyone in the community, and the equestrian aspect was definitely significant.”

Through Cobblestones, he became friendly with polo royalty, such as Memo Gracida and the entire Gracida family. The place also had its fair share of celebrity sightings.

“We certainly had a huge number of celebrities that came to Wellington back then, particularly due to polo,” Witkowski said. “One of my favorite customers was Zsa Zsa Gabor. She became a great customer and friend. She returned and brought Fifi, her chihuahua. We made an exception and let her bring the dog in. Later, she brought her good friend Merv Griffin, back then the No. 1 TV producer in the world. He became a friend, and we got to play tennis together. Perhaps even more famous was the day Paul Newman came in with his wife Joanne Woodward. He was probably the top movie actor at the

time. I was totally awestruck to have him in the restaurant.”

During his time in Wellington, he saw the community grow quickly from 3,000 to 20,000 residents.

“It had such a wonderful, smalltown feeling. Everyone just knew everybody. We were all coming off the ark onto this new land together,” Witkowski recalled. “Everybody was in the same boat coming into this brand-new community. It had little to offer, but it gave us a chance to create a sense of community.”

After Cobblestones closed, the site later became a Mexican restaurant called La Fogata. “I went to the Mexican place a few times, but there were too many ghosts for me,” Witkowski said.

After a major health scare, Witkowski returned to the restaurant business in the early 2000s with support from his longtime friend, developer Bruce Rendina.

“In 2001, I suffered a brain tumor, and as I was lying in JFK Hospital in recovery, Bruce came to my bedside and told me that we would open a new restaurant in Abacoa,” Witkowski said. “Soon thereafter, we did just that. In 2001, I opened Stadium Grill with Bruce as my partner, and I have remained in that restaurant until today.”

Nowadays, he operates Stadium Grill with his son, Ryan Witkowski, who grew up at Cobblestones in Wellington.

wellington the magazine | may 2024 45
Dennis Witkowski and his son Ryan at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their current restaurant, Stadium Grill.
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A UNIQUE TAKE ON INDIAN STREET FOOD

Masala Mantra

Indian Cuisine, which opened recently in Royal Palm Beach, is the latest venture by the owners of the popular Aroma Indian Cuisine in West Palm Beach.

Masala Mantra brings a modern twist to the street foods of India.

Expanding the local culinary scene, a unique take on Indian street food has arrived in the western communities with the recent opening of Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine, a family-owned restaurant located in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza.

The menu showcases the essence of Indian culinary artistry, fusing traditional flavors with innovative twists that redefine the street foods of India, creating a modern and dynamic dining experience.

Masala Mantra distinguishes itself through contemporary twists on traditional Indian flavors and dishes, and the creative story behind its design is conceptualized by Hridaan Patel, the young son of owners Purnima and Krunalbhai Patel.

Using the video game Minecraft, Hridaan helped create the restaurant’s unique ambiance, capturing the vibrancy of India’s streets with a playful, modern twist, and offering a dining experience that is as visually engaging as it is delicious.

Krunalbhai describes Masala Mantra as more than a restaurant.

“This is an immersive journey into the essence of Indian street food, reenvisioned through a contemporary lens,” he explained. “Each dish is crafted to narrate a story, blending tradition with innovation in a manner designed to surprise and delight our patrons and their palates.”

Masala Mantra’s unique ambiance sets the stage for a one-of-a-kind gastronomic adventure. Hridaan’s vision demonstrates how traditional elements can be creatively reinterpreted to blend with Krunalbhai and Purnima’s fresh and innovative perspective on Indian cuisine.

Dishes include entrée favorites such as jini dosa, biryani, chicken lollipops and stuffed mushrooms, and desserts like chocolate samosa.

“Every dish is rich in tradition yet infused with a contemporary twist that I believe will delight and surprise our

guests,” Krunalbhai said. “It’s not just about dining; it’s about embarking on a flavorful journey that pays homage to India’s diverse and rich culinary heritage.”

Masala Mantra is the latest venture by the owners of Aroma Indian Cuisine in West Palm Beach. While Aroma focuses on traditional Indian dishes, Masala Mantra brings a modern twist to the street foods of India.

“We grew up savoring these delightful dishes in India, and we’re delighted to share our favorite timeless classics with everyone,” Krunalbhai said. “From popular Indian street food snacks like Basket Chaat and Lamb Khaldale, to the beloved classic dish Butter Chicken, our menu offers a variety of flavors to enjoy. To complete your dining experience, indulge in desserts like Walnut Halwa, and my personal favorite, Sizzling Brownie.”

The Patel family is excited to be bringing their vision of Indian cuisine to the diverse and growing western communities.

“My wife, Purnima, and I chose to open an Indian restaurant in the Royal Palm Beach area due to its pleasant neighborhood and strategic location, embodying the community atmosphere we wished to highlight,” Krunalbhai said.

A well-attending grand opening event was held in January, he added.

“We have been overwhelmed by the warm reception and enthusiasm from the community,” Krunalbhai said. “It has been a joy to see so many faces, new and familiar, embarking on this gastronomic journey with us. Our goal has always been to celebrate the spirit of Indian street food through a modern lens.”

A great time to explore this new dining option is on Mother’s Day, when Masala Mantra will be offering an exploration of Indian-inspired libations and culinary creations. Throughout the special day, all mothers can enjoy a complimentary cocktail with the purchase of any menu item to complement their experience.

From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can

wellington the magazine | may 2024 47 wellington | table
(Top) Masala Mantra offers a variety of Indian street food options. (Middle) The Chocolate Samosa chocolate-filled pastry with vanilla ice cream, and the Kalakhatta Mojito with gin, blackberry, black salt and mint. (Bottom) The Chicken Lollipops, sweet and spicy frenched chicken drumettes. Masala Mantra owners Purnima and Krunalbhai Patel with their son Hridaan and restaurant staff members.

enjoy a Mother’s Day brunch including bottomless cocktails (complimentary for mothers) from brunch or lunch offerings, such as Egg Burji, Grilled Paneer Sandwich and Chocolate Dosa with Banana. You can also visit from 5 to 10 p.m. to indulge in timeliness Indian classics like Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala, a variety of naan flavors and more.

When visiting Masala Mantra, you will be able to immerse yourself in the rich flavors of the cuisine while savoring expertly crafted cocktails. Discover the perfect pairing of food and drink from a variety of signature cocktails ($13) including: Masala Guava, a chili-infused Tito’s vodka with triple sec, guava and lime; Mango Margarita, a chili-influenced tequila with mango puree and lime; and Kalakhatta Mojito, an Indian version of a classic cocktail with gin, blackberry, black salt and mint.

Restaurant hours are Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Masala Mantra is also available for private events.

Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine is located at 11051 Southern Blvd., Unit 210, in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza. For more information, call (561) 328-7497 or visit www. masalamantraroyalpalmbeach.com.

(Above, left to right, top to bottom) The Basket Chaat is a potato basket with chickpeas, chutneys, onions, yogurt and sev; the Golden Martini has saffron-infused gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters and tonic; the Genie Dosa is a stuffed crêpe with cabbage, carrot, green peppers and grated cheese; a variety of international wines are available; Chicken Tikka Masala features chicken in a creamy, tomato-based sauce; from the hearth, you can enjoy a variety of naan breads, such as butter naan, garlic naan, Peshwari naan, chili garlic naan and more; the Biryani saffron rice is slow-cooked with a unique spice mix and caramelized onions; the Stuffed Mushrooms are tandoor grilled, stuffed with spinach and cheese; and crafted cocktails include the Masala Martini, the Kalakhatta Mojito, the Masala Guava, the Golden Martini and more.

Masala Mantra owners Krunalbhai and Purnima Patel.

48 may 2024 | wellington the magazine
wellington | table

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