Benihana Coming to Westwinds of Boca

We’ve heard rumors for years now and it’s finally true. Benihana is coming to Westwinds of Boca (aka the Home Depot plaza) on the southeast corner of 441 and Glades. Originally we heard this what was going into the new building that now has Pei Wei and a few other stores.

The old Denny’s; photo by Warren Redlich

While we heard all those rumors, people also kept asking us “what’s going on with the Denny’s building.” Now we have the answer. There is a proposal pending before the county, titled “Benihana at Festival Shoppes of Boca Raton” (the old name of Westwinds). The essence of the plan:

The Applicant is requesting to reconfigure the Site Plan and add square footage. The Preliminary Site Plan indicates the existing Type II Restaurant (3,154 sq. ft.) to be demolished and a new (8,060 sq. ft.) restaurant to be constructed.

The zoning commission has scheduled a hearing for December 4th, and then it will go in front of the County Commissioners on January 7th. Sometimes these dates get pushed back, but it appears to be coming soon. One reader even tells us she saw workers at the building.
There are already a couple of Japanese steak houses in West Boca, with Tempura House at Clint Moore & 441, and Saito’s at Lyons and Glades. Benihana is may be a step up in quality, but we’ll see if and when they open.

Benihana to replace Denny’s in Westwinds of Boca, southeast corner of Glades and 441; image and map data by Google.

Overall the parking in that plaza can be a nightmare, though the worst of it is closer to Home Depot and Publix. Doubling the size of this building will bring in a lot more cars, but we think there’s room for it. Plus we’re excited to try it.
It’s always a good sign for the local economy when businesses want to open and expand.
The full zoning application is below:
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Pei Wei Progress, Smoothie King, and Fashion Scoop: New Stores and Restaurants

We’re seeing progress on new stores. We previously reported that Pei Wei is coming to Glades and 441 (the new building in the Home Depot plaza). We weren’t sure before but we are now. The store sign is up and they’re busy on the inside getting it ready.
We still think it’s at least a month away but this is real progress. None of the other spaces in the new building are anywhere close to this.

Next up we just learned that a Smoothie King will open in Mission Bay Plaza. This came on us fast. It opens tomorrow morning. The menu is focused on healthy smoothies, with categories including Fitness, Slim, and Wellness, along with some other options. Most of them start at $5 or so with large ones (40 oz) approaching $9.
There was some activity inside but we couldn’t get in or get a good picture of the inside. Grand opening with ribbon cutting will be tomorrow around noon.

We’ve also reported on a new organic market, 4th Generation, coming to Boca Lyons Plaza. They seem to be behind schedule and we don’t see much progress inside.
–Update: A reader tells us 4th Generation expects to open in August.–
However, there is a new place opening next door, Fashion Scoop. A sign on the door indicates they’re hiring experienced retail staff.

Pei Wei Coming to Glades & 441? Business Update

We have several business stories to report. The biggest is Pei Wei. We’ve learned that the new construction in Westwinds of Boca (SE corner of Glades and 441) will include a Pei Wei Asian Diner. We have confirmed that there will be a total of five tenants in the new building, and that two of the other tenants will be a VisionWorks eyeglass store and a European Wax type place. All five tenants will be national chains, though we don’t yet know what the last two will be.
On the north side of Glades we’ve confirmed that Lime Fresh Mexican Grill will be coming to Shadowood, next to Sybarite Pig. Lime Fresh will be using the outdoor patio. We were wondering if the two would share the patio similar to how World of Beer in Promenade encourages other restaurants to deliver food, but apparently that’s not in the plans.
Also in Shadowood we noticed that the parking lot next to the new Walgreens has reopened. And we learned that a storefront near that will soon be filled with a Boca Nail Bar, expected to open early in 2015.
No word yet on the space used by the current Walgreens. As we understand it there are ongoing negotiations with potential tenants.
Further west a reader tipped us off that the China Cafe restaurant in Loggers Run (next to the post office) was not answering their phone. We stopped by today. There’s a sign on the door that says they closed temporarily on September 26th due to a personal emergency. The door was open and we were able to speak to the owner. He didn’t elaborate on the reason, but said he hopes to reopen in the next couple weeks.
Last, we visited the Shadowood Theater and experienced the new layout with reclining seats. It was very comfortable, and also a lot easier to get in and out of the rows.
12 of the 16 theaters are complete and the last four (to the left as you walk in) are currently blocked off.
For this last photo there was a language barrier so we decided to block out the faces since permission was unclear.

Glades & 441: What's Going On?

See Update below.
A lot of readers have been asking us what’s going on at the corner of Glades and 441. There’s actually two things going on. As we covered previously, on the northeast corner the Shadowood plaza is adding an outbuilding for a larger Walgreens.
But most people are now asking about the southeast corner. That’s the Westwinds of Boca plaza which has Home Depot and Publix. The red arrow in the picture below points to the area where we all some kind of work going on.
We went over yesterday to take some pictures and ask questions. We don’t have solid answers yet, but here’s what we found.
First of all as you can see in the top panorama picture and from driving by, they’ve erected fencing around the “lake” in the northwest corner of the plaza – close to the intersection of Glades and 441.
Next, here’s a panorama shot from just inside the fence that gives you some perspective:
Basically what you see there is a backhoe, some stone, and some debris all around the lake.
Below is a shot with the backhoe’s scoop in the foreground and you can see the extent of the lake. You can see a bit more of the debris around the lake as well. Glades Road and Shadowood Square are in the far background.
In the last photo we’re posting from the site, you get a better view of the debris.
So what are they doing? We’ve heard all kinds of theories. One person suggested they’re filling in the lake and putting up a steak house. We don’t think that’s credible. But – see update below.
We talked to some of the workers and managers in nearby stores. None of them knew for sure.
We have another theory. We’ve been hearing for some time from reliable sources about problems (mainly littering and drug use) around this lake associated with vagrants, homeless people, and/or the people we see begging at the intersections. The lake was surrounded by a lot of foliage so their activities were hidden. We think they’re removing all of the foliage so the troublemakers won’t be able to hide their “misbehavior” in there.
It’s not really a solution to the problem – they’ll just go somewhere else. But that’s what we think they’re doing.
Workers in the nearby stores agreed that there have been problems consistent with what we heard from our other sources in the past.
After originally writing this article, we got a quick comment and did some research – that we should have done in the first place. There does appear to be a plan to fill in the lake and put in more stores:
We’re not sure if the current work is a precursor to that project, or if it’s somewhere further down the road. Filling in that lake will be a lot of work and require a lot of material.
Further Update
A reader in the comments pointed us to a link from the Army Corps of Engineers that sheds more light.
And another reader pointed us to planning review in Palm Beach County.