The Blind Monk wine bar plans move to new AKA West Palm hotel – Palm Beach Post


The Blind Monk   wine bar  and tapas restaurant is  moving to the ALSO KNOWN AS West Palm, a luxury  extended-stay hotel slated to open in December.

The move ends uncertainty about the popular wines bar’s continued presence in downtown West Palm Beach.

The Window blind Monk has been embroiled for months in litigation with its landlord , which has been trying to bounce the wine pub from its space in  The particular Whitney condominium at 410 Evernia St .

But starting next April, patrons will be able to drink  and dine on a full menu  at The Blind Monk’s new location, in the ground floor of AKA West Palm at 695 S. Olive Ave.

Previous coverage: An inside look at The Blind Monk wine bar in downtown West Palm Beach

Also from the past: Will the Blind Monk wine bar be evicted? Popular West Palm Beach spot to remain — for now

The Blind Monk’s move to the AKA not only eliminates the particular cloud surrounding The Blind Monk’s immediate future.   It also is  a coup for the boutique extended-stay hotel company,   which operates chic, furnished  properties in several  cities.

Locations include  New York, Beverly Hills, Boston, London,   Miami and starting in December, in West Palm Beach.

AKA blends the space of a small apartment with the amenities of an upscale resort for visitors staying at least one week. The eight-story AKA in West Palm features 215 suites and residences. Rates start at $335 a night.

Wine bar’s move to a new place prompted by litigation

Ben Lubin, The Blind Monk’s owner, said he hadn’t planned to move The Blind Monk anywhere, but recent  litigation with his landlord, Hand Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, created too much uncertainty  for  his business and  staff.

“That’s what brought me to the search, and it turns out I  found an incredible opportunity, an incredible space  and an incredible landlord, ” Lubin said.

The Sightless Monk also compliments ALSO KNOWN AS West Palm’s intent to create a buzzy destination for both  visitors and area residents, said  Jaime Sturgis, chief executive of Native Realty, which brought the restaurant and wines bar to AKA West Palm.

“We put a big emphasis on authenticity, and The Blind Monk accentuates that perfectly, ” Sturgis said. “Everything is unique, and when you’re traveling and you have that amazing experience, that’s going to put that memory in your head for future travel. ”

The  AKA West Palm is the former Current Apartments, the complex featuring very small apartments or “micro-apartments. ”

Construction of the complex was nearing completion earlier this year when the property was scooped up   for $84 million in 04 by a partnership  looking to expand the AKA brand.  

This partnership included  Pennsylvania-based Korman Communities, which operates the upscale, furnished,   extended-stay AKA hotels.

AKA Western Palm’s amenities include water views, an outdoor pool deck,   a gym plus meeting space. The property even has a pet spa, offering grooming and specialized services, such as pet massages.

The property is expected to appeal to a variety of guests, said Larry Korman, AKA’s chief executive.

These guests  include families and  local residents  wanting staycations. Guests may also include  people  waiting to buy or sell a home or those renovating a property,   Korman said.

Business executives are a key target, too.  

With many corporations, especially in the financial, technology  and aerospace industries in the vicinity, “we’ll expect to see a steady flow associated with business travelers, ” Korman said.

The particular Blind Monk’s risky but hopeful move 

The wine bar’s move from its current location  is not without risk, Lubin said.

The Blind Monk  has a loyal following at its  central downtown space in The Whitney, while  the new AKA Western world Palm  on the north side of downtown is in a different part of the city,   Lubin said.

In addition , Lubin stated he’ll be spending at least $1. 2 million to build out the restaurant.

This figure includes not only outfitting the interior dining room, but also buying  equipment for an expanded kitchen, as well as furnishing an outdoor covered  patio area.

With the larger space and full kitchen, Lubin said the The Sightless Monk will evolve “from a small wine bar to more of a small bistro. ”

In addition to a full dining  menu, Lubin also plans to expand from his curated wine offerings to a full bar.

Lubin said he’s excited for the chance to operate in West Palm Beach’s newest hotel, but he is not counting on out-of-towners to carry his business.

“Being in a hotel is not an automatic recipe for success, ” Lubin said. “You still have to be great on your own. ”

U. S. Marine returns home, starts new business inside hometown

The particular Blind Monk’s move to AKA West Palm also won’t end Lubin efforts  to  enforce prior contracts on  the wine bar’s Evernia Street space.   Those contracts now are the subject of two lawsuits.

One is against a former owner of the space, and the other is against the  landlord,   a Greene-owned company.

The Window blind Monk began some 12 years ago, when Lubin, a  U. S. Marine captain, was a returning veteran after tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lubin decided to open a little wine bar plus tapas restaurant in his hometown,   West Palm Seaside.  

When Lubin  crafted The Blind Monk’s  lease at  The Whitney,   he said he made sure the lease with then-landlord  USO Norge Whitney LLC featured a plan for the wine bar’s  future. This included The Blind Monk’s  right-of-first refusal  to purchase the space, and 30 days to decide in the event another offer was made on the property.

But Lubin said he never got the opportunity to buy his wine bar’s space.

In 2016,   USO Norge Whitney told Lubin of the pending sale of his commercial space plus well as other, unsold residential condos at The Whitney to a buyer, Greene’s  410 Evernia Street Partners LLC.

Two years later,   The Blind Monk sued USO Norge Whitney, alleging the company failed to abide by the wine bar’s right to buy its space.

In a recent  interview, Greene attributed The Blind Monk-USO Norge  dispute to a mix-up by a title company.  

While the litigation against USO Norge Whitney was pending, The Blind Monk’s rent ended in July 2020. The wine bar then switched to a month-to-month lease.

But earlier this year, Greene’s  410 Evernia Street Partners warned The Blind Monk it wanted to end the particular arrangement.   The letter didn’t give a reason, yet Greene has complained the rent he receives from The Blind Monk is only half the current market rate.

Although landlord-tenant disputes are common,   the players in this money feud are not.

Lubin is the son of Lois Frankel, the  Democratic U. S. congresswoman and former West Palm Beach mayor. His father is Richard Lubin, a high-profile criminal defense attorney.  

Greene is the  billionaire  real estate investor who once was a Democratic candidate for Florida governor and the U. S. Senate.   These days, Greene is a key developer in downtown West Palm Beach.  

In May, Lubin’s The Blind Monk went on the offensive and sued  410 Evernia Road Partners.   The lawsuit said the lease allows the wine bar to stay  as long as the  separate legal battle with USO Norge Whitney continues. Greene disagrees.

On June 14, The Blind Monk  notched a win when a Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge  granted the wine bar’s request to temporarily halt an eviction.  

Lubin said your dog is not ready to give up on the particular valuable Evernia Street area, even if The Blind Monk no longer will operate there in the coming year.

  “I still want to buy, and I still have a breach of contract claim, ” Lubin mentioned.

Alexandra Clough is a business writer at the Palm Beach Post ,   part of the  USA TODAY Florida Network.   You can reach her  at [email protected] com . Twitter: @acloughpbp .   Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

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