Fondu Hospitality plans Jupiter restaurant led by French Laundry alum

Retired baseball player Frank Seminara bought restaurant space for $1.9M in August

French Laundry Alum Kayla Casale to Helm Jupiter Restaurant
Steven Fondu and Kayla Casale with a rendering of plans for 1406 Cypress Drive, Jupiter (Instagram/sfondu, Instagram/chefkayla95, Ara Jupiter)

Restaurateur Steven Fondu is planning a Mediterranean restaurant in Jupiter, with a kitchen helmed by French Laundry alum Kayla Casale. 

Fondu’s namesake hospitality firm is opening Ara early next year, the South Florida Business Journal reported. The 3,800-square-foot restaurant at 1406 Cypress Drive will have seating for 125 people, a chef’s table and bar, the outlet reported. Anna Woodman Interior Design, a Jupiter-based hospitality design firm, is handling interiors for the restaurant. 

Property records show that Frank Seminara, a retired Major League Baseball pro, bought the restaurant space for $1.9 million in August through his Franksters Gangsters LLC. Seminara, who had a second career as a Morgan Stanley financial adviser after pitching for the Padres and the Mets, bought a Palm Beach Gardens home for $5.8 million last year, records show. 

Ara will mark Fondu’s first restaurant as an owner. Most recently he was the assistant general manager with Stage Kitchen & Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, where he started as a bartender. Prior to that, he worked in sales at Fox Television Stations, LinkedIn shows. 

Casale has been working as a private chef in Miami, according to LinkedIn. She previously worked at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Eiffel Tower and Le Cirque in Las Vegas. She also worked for Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, the Napa restaurant where California Governor Gavin Newsom infamously dined amid the height of pandemic restrictions. 

Keller himself is also moving into Palm Beach County –– the culinary giant signed a lease on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue in June. 

Agents say the pandemic-fueled migration of Northeasterners and Californians to Palm Beach County has brought a culinary transformation. New York favorite Le Bilboquet opened in Palm Beach in 2021, and private dining club the Carriage House opened last year, according to published reports. 
Kate Hinsche