This January, fans of Bridgehampton’s Almond can dine al fresco — in Palm Beach. Partners Eric Lemonides and Jason Weiner, who are responsible for the restaurant’s Bridgehampton and New York City outposts, are expanding their reach to the southern beach.
“We’re opening a version of what we do in Bridgehampton in Palm Beach,” said Lemonides.
What that means, for the uninitiated, is a big, vibrant space, full of personality and creative American fare. The space is, Lemonides estimates, roughly the same size on the interior as the Bridgehampton space, with a sprawling outdoor area that nearly matches the interior in terms of square footage. “It’s completely covered,” he said, and “on a super sexy boulevard. We’re bringing a little Almond vibe down to Palm Beach.”
If Florida seems like a different culinary climate than the Northeast, Lemonides believes that nothing is set in stone. The state, historically, is not renowned for its farm-to-table ethos, but, then again, the Hamptons wasn’t always, either. “There’s tons of farms here,” Lemonides said on the phone from Palm Beach. “There’s tons of farmers here. It doesn’t have to be across the street. It just has to be local and close.”
Décor will recall the Bridgehampton space, with a nod to that famous magenta zebra wallpaper that everyone knows so well. The building, an early 1900s space with original wood ceilings, reminds Lemonides of the space in Bridgehampton. The restaurant will be, essentially, an Almond family affair, with Lee Felty, Lemonides’ partner and the original manager for the Almond New York City space, returning to the fold.
Unlike the Bridgehampton restaurant, where labor costs and seasonality are of concern, the Palm Beach restaurant will serve both lunch and dinner. “We’re only open for dinner in Bridgehampton because you’re battling a couple things,” Lemonides said. “You’re battling labor. If you’re open in Bridgehampton for just brunch you kill your staff. If you’re doing lunch 7 days a week, it’s a different thing.” The difference, he said, is that you can hire an additional set of staff to manage the daytime hours. Since Palm Beach has more of a reliable weekday crowd than the Hamptons, which is mostly a weekend-only destination, the new space can sustain two meals a day.
Part of the idea was to bring a fresh approach to dining to Palm Beach. “It seems like there’s not a lot down here like what we do,” Lemonides said. He indicated that the area was flush with fine dining restaurants, as well as casual dining options, but that there was no real middle ground, where a diner could find high-quality cuisine without the pretenses of a formal dining experience. The restaurant, then, looks to fill a niche that Lemonides and Weiner believe is currently open.
The menu, which will be the domain, largely, of Executive Chef and co-owner Jason Weiner, will speak to the restaurant’s tradition of local and seasonal food, with a lighter bent. Lemonides anticipates more “salads” and “accessible, simple things,” once the restaurant opens. Both Lemonides and Weiner will be splitting time between Bridgehampton and Palm Beach; the pair just rented an apartment together and plan to organize a kind of round robin, wherein one of them is always present for weekend service in Bridgehampton as a kind of quality control.
Regarding an official opening date, the owners are not yet sure of when in January they will be open — but they do plan to open next month. That gives East Enders an opportunity to enjoy the Bridgehampton vibe in far warmer climes this post-holiday season. In case you needed a reason to travel, the team at Almond just gave you one very good one.
For more information, visit almondrestaurant.com.