Menin Hospitality co-founders Keith Menin and Jared Galbut were standing on a street corner in downtown Fort Lauderdale when they spotted the future home of Bodega’s second location.
“We looked around and felt the energy, and as we turned around we saw this corner and said ‘that feels like Bodega,’” said Menin, a principal at Menin Hospitality.
The hoteliers and food and beverage operators signed a 10-year lease with options to open Bodega Taqueria y Tequila’s second standalone permanent location at the historic Bryan building, at 21 West Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The original Bodega, at 1220 16th Street in Miami Beach, opened five years ago, and the company recently opened a six-month pop-up out of a vintage Airstream in the Miami Design District. It’s also at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Fort Lauderdale location, set to open in the spring, is a test for Menin as it plans to expand throughout South Florida and other major cities in the U.S., said Galbut, managing principal of the Miami-based firm. It will mirror the Miami Beach location, including a fast-casual taco restaurant and a speakeasy-style lounge open daily from 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. The taqueria will feature a retrofitted Airstream trailer, and a door will connect guests to the late-night speakeasy.
“We hope there will be many more throughout South Florida in the next 12 to 18 months,” Galbut said, adding that additional Bodegas have “to have the same ethos and essence and feeling of what makes South Beach so successful.”
The Fort Lauderdale location is near The Wharf and PMG’s X Las Olas. The latter is a 1,200-unit apartment development along the Las Olas Riverfront.
Menin Hospitality also plans to open the Gale Fort Lauderdale Beach soon. Both the Gale and Bodega are the Miami-based company’s first forays into Broward County. The condo component of the Gale was completed last year, and unit owners will be able to join the hotel rental program once the hotel opens.
A minority partner in the South Beach Bodega and in the now-closed Ricky’s pizzeria next door recently filed a lawsuit against Galbut, Menin and affiliated holding companies, alleging that they co-mingling staff and resources without his consent, refused to show him the accounting books and the distribution of profits, and sent employees to work at other restaurants the pair own. A lawyer for Galbut and Menin said the complaint is full of incorrect and inaccurate representations.