Four Years in the Making, a New
Palace 'For the People' Gets Its Final Touches
By GERRY and PAMELA BARKER
North Palm Beach Life
November 26, 2019
Photos by North Palm Beach Life
As we stood in the middle of what will be the new North Palm Beach Country Club's banquet room, Chuck Huff, the Village's Director of Special Projects, reflected on what's been accomplished:
"I've been here 13 years, so to see it evolve from when it was a sketch on a piece of paper, four years in the making, it's just great."
"Great" is a good word to describe the new facility. Built at a cost of $18.9 million, it replaces the old country club, which was opened 56 years ago in 1963.
"What's more important," added Huff, "is that this belongs to the people -- this is the people's palace. This is for them."
Beth Davis, the club's new general manager, echoed that sentiment, saying, "We want to over-communicate we are a municipal facility, open to the public. I don't think you'll find anything like this anywhere in the country."
We were given a tour of the new club by Huff, Davis, Joey Giannuzzi, the co-owner of Farmer's Table in Boca Raton, who will operate the club's restaurant, and Ed Cunningham, the Village's Communications Manager.
While there have been numerous upgrades and additions to every aspect of the new clubhouse, the restaurant will take centerstage.
Giannuzzi talked about how he is bringing his "fresh-healthy-delicious" mantra and eco-friendly standards to the country club.
"I started working with the planning a year ago this week," said Giannuzzi. "A restaurant broker told me, 'You got to see this project they are doing.' I couldn't believe how similar it is in size and layout to what we have in Boca."
A Staten Island native who grew up in Florida, Giannuzzi has over 25 years experience working and operating restaurants, and speaks passionately about what's in store for North Palm residents and the surrounding communities.
Giannuzzi showed us the many options guests will have, starting at the main dining room, dubbed The Pavilion. Its open spaces afford stunning views of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course (only one of two Nicklaus municipal courses in the country) and postcard-worthy sunsets.
"We'll be able to get 166 seats in this room," said Giannuzzi. "There will be a full bar with a 100-inch TV in the center. The openings will have Euro walls that can be closed completely in the summer or opened up."
There will also be entertainment, he added. "Seven nights a week we will have live music -- for example, a Spanish guitarist or a sax player, to enhance the atomsphere. Saturday and Sunday we'll do a full blown brunch like you've never seen before. For brunch, we'll have a four-piece jazz quartet."
Additionally, there will be a sports bar/ happy hour area, firepits and the Grill Room, with its captains chairs and lounges. Altogether, they can accommodate 300 diners along with 200 for banquets.
Like his restaurant in Boca, there will also be a raised bed garden for growing vegetables and herbs, with adjacent tables. "There'll be stuff fun for the kids," Giannuzzi said, "like miracle fruit. Fruits that are sweet but taste sour, and vice versa. Kids will love it. "
The new clubhouse features two full kitchens to handle the anticipated volume, and a restaurant staff of 110. Giannuzzi noted the banquet room, with its removeable dance floor, is already booked well into next year, and along with weddings and special events, he plans to hold seminars on wellness and health, plus cooking classes.
He sees his mission as, "How do you make people feel like a guest in their own home? We want to shine within a building that shines."
Huff is especially proud of the state-of-the-art technology that's been employed, including light and sound adjustments can be made remotely via an app.
Other highlights include:
As a tribute to the past, Huff saved the stairs from the 1926 Winter Club building, which first occupied the space, and made a special place in the new one for those.
Huff also made an extra effort to preserve the dramatic look of the large banyan trees that frame the club's entrance. He was told by a county fire official the large limb that goes over the roadway would have to be removed because one of the fire vehicles couldn't pass under it.
Not on his watch -- Huff simply had the road grade lowered. Problem solved.
The official grand opening date is yet to be announced, but it's a good bet it will be before the end of the year. When it is, North Palm residents should prepare to be "wowed."