Boca, the Park Avenue restaurant and bar that opened in 2014, is under new ownership. Artistry Restaurants, a relatively new group based in Winter Park, is the new owner of the restaurant and its companion business Atlantic Beer and Oysters. The company also took ownership of the original Boca, in Sarasota, and operates the Burger U at UCF.
Darren Brach, area manager for Boca, said Friday, “Right now we’re getting in here and getting some facilities going.” He alluded to “mixed messages” the restaurant had sent in the past about what it was and that they would be working to hone the concept. The company will continue to operate Atlantic Beer and Oysters, which is in a small space behind the corner restaurant.
When Boca first opened, the owners, BE-1, also operated Park Social in the upstairs space that was meant to be a speakeasy. That closed and the landlord has taken the space back. A stairway on the inside of the restaurant has been blocked off.
Joel Diaz, who was previously with Marlow’s Tavern, has been hired as Boca’s general manager. “We’re reviving the brand,” he told me.
Prior to the recent sale, a third Boca, in Tampa, had already closed.
For many years, the restaurant space on the corner of Park and Canton was home to Park Avenue Grill (which was the first restaurant I reviewed for the Orlando Sentinel in 1988). After it closed, a revolving door of tenants moved in and out of the building, including, in order, Zak’s, Chapters, East of Paris, Circa, Galopin and Matilda’s on Park.
Boca has lasted longer than any of them other than Park Avenue Grill (which opened as Park Avenue Grille and changed its name at the end to Sage before closing in 2001). One possible key to Boca’s longevity was moving the bar from a small space inside the front door and building a prominent one in the front dining room.
But despite its nearly seven year run, it rarely comes to mind when I think of restaurants on Park Avenue. Perhaps the new owners can freshen things up a bit.