Jazz club and restau­rant, Chicago’s 312 now open

Jazz & blues restau­rant

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHELLE HOLLINGER

PEM­BROKE PINES, Fla. – A swanky new black-owned restau­rant for blues and jazz lovers has opened in Pem­broke Pines, and if the open­ing night crowd is any in­di­ca­tion of what’s in store for Chicago’s 312, the new spot has a promis­ing fu­ture.

South Florida Times pub­lisher, Robert G. Beatty said the op­por­tu­nity to part­ner with Ben Rich­mond, an ac­com­plished chef and restau­ran­teur just “fell in his lap,” when the two met at a lo­cal wine store. Af­ter learn­ing what each did for a liv­ing, a con­ver­sa­tion re­gard­ing Rich­mond ad­ver­tis­ing his im­pend­ing new restau­rant in Beatty’s pa­per en­sued. When cir­cum­stances changed, and Rich­mond found him­self in need of a new part­ner, Beatty was in the right place at the right time and de­cided to join Rich­mond in the restau­rant busi­ness.

Rich­mond owned a med­i­cal trans­porta­tion busi­ness and Beach Café restau­rant in Chicago be­fore sell­ing both and re­lo­cat­ing to Key West, where he lived for eight years.

“I missed the Chicago food, old clas­sics from city of Chicago," Rich­mond said.

His plan was to open the restau­rant in Hol­ly­wood, how­ever, the Pem­broke Pines lo­ca­tion “sort of found me.”

The name is a trib­ute to Chicago’s old­est area code be­fore it changed to 773 and 708. “We brought it here to Pem­broke Pines,” shared Rich­mond, who said the menu cap­tures the “Windy City’s” uniquely de­li­cious food and its blues scene. “A lot of blues orig­i­nated in Chicago.”

Cus­tomers can ex­pect to in­dulge in deep dish pizza be­gin­ning in May and bar­be­cue that will be smoked in oak brought in from the Mid­west. “We’re re­ally try­ing to hone that Chicago fla­vor in Pem­broke Pines,” Rich­mond said of Chicago’s 312, which can seat 500 peo­ple. An­other as­pect of the restau­rant’s unique­ness in­cludes ac­cess to the Grand Palms hotel and golf course. Ul­ti­mately, he said, the space has some­thing for ev­ery­one. “If you want to come and sit in the back and have a drink in the small dimly lit room and have a con­ver­sa­tion with your sig­nif­i­cant other, or if you want to get in­volved with the blues.”

The restau­rant is cur­rently open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday through Thursday; and un­til mid­night on Friday through Sunday – serv­ing break­fast, lunch, din­ner and a Sunday jazz brunch. Pa­trons can en­joy live music on the week­ends. Pian­ist Buddy Guy will ap­pear at the restau­rant in a few weeks.

Rich­mond said the break­fast menu will in­clude chicken and waf­fles, shrimp and grits, pan­cakes and other break­fast sta­ples, but in a “more gourmet style. For ex­am­ple, you’ll get waf­fles with can­died cashews on it with ba­nanas and straw­ber­ries. You will feel happy when you leave,” he said.

The last Sunday of each month will feature a “gospel brunch,” with an in­ter­est­ing twist. “We’re look­ing for churches that would like to par­tic­i­pate,” he shared. In ad­di­tion to con­gre­gants get­ting a dis­count on their brunch, the restau­rant will do­nate some of the pro­ceeds to the par­tic­i­pat­ing church.

Chicago’s 312 is lo­cated at 110 Grand Palms Drive, Pem­broke Pines, 33027. Self and valet park­ing are avail­able. The restau­rant’s web­site will be up soon, but in the mean­time, cus­tomers and those in­ter­ested in book­ing the space for events can con­tact the hotel at 954-431-8800, ext. 4.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF LESESNE ME­DIA GROUP

Ben Richmond and Robert Beatty, Chicago's 312 part­ners Chicago snow­birds flock to Chicago’s 312 Stacy Brooks Carol Ann Tay­lor and her sis­ter, Priscilla Tay­lor.

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