Lagniappe was recently given an exclusive early tour of Las Floriditas, the newest restaurant from former University of Alabama All-American football lineman, NFL Miami Dolphin All-Pro and current local restaurateur Bob Baumhower. Las Floriditas is scheduled to open in mid-2019 in downtown Mobile.
Baumhower is the founder and owner of the well-known Baumhower’s Victory Grille, which has several locations throughout the state. The locally owned, singularly popular fine-dining restaurant Dauphin’s, situated on the 34th (and highest) floor of the RSA Trustmark Building in downtown Mobile, is also part of his group. Baumhower’s ventures are held under the Aloha Hospitality corporate umbrella and headquartered in Loxley.
Baumhower said the idea for Las Floriditas originated during his NFL days in South Florida. He cited Mobile’s sister city — Havana, Cuba — as the inspiration for the new 6,000-square-foot after-hours cocktail bar and tapas-themed eatery, which will be in the basement level of the aforementioned RSA Trustmark Building.
An avid outdoorsman, Baumhower went on many deep-sea fishing trips around Bimini, the westernmost district of the Bahamas and about 50 miles due east of Miami. It was during these excursions that Baumhower became a fan of the writings of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway. “I first became a fan of Hemingway while fishing in Bimini and then became a fan of Cuba through Hemingway’s work,” he said.
One narrative in particular that resonated for Baumhower was a novel posthumously published in 1970, “Islands in the Stream.” The first two chapters, titled “Bimini” and “Cuba,” influenced Baumhower’s decision to create his restaurant in Mobile, with its swirl of Latin American influences.
Another inspiration was found in El Floridita, a famous 200-year-old fish restaurant and cocktail bar still open in Havana’s oldest section, once a favorite haunt of Hemingway’s. Reportedly, the eatery commissioned a life-sized bronze likeness of the novelist in 2003 that now sits at the end of the main bar, waiting to be served the Cuban-style daiquiri for which the restaurant is world famous.
Elements of the original architecture, which housed a 1960s-era First National Bank, were not only retained in the floor plan, but a massive vault door has been repurposed to serve as a key feature of the decor, adorned with neon lights.
Additionally a “secret” entrance — consisting of a sliding bookshelf covering the main entrance — is only steps away from the elevator door’s basement opening. The disguise resembles something out of a 1960s-era James Bond spy movie.
The lounge floor plan comprises three sections. The main area encompasses some 3,000 square feet with the bar, kitchen, freezer and food-serving sections found to the left, a small dance floor and stage near the back of the area and stylish tables and chairs spread throughout the rest of the space.
Roughly 2,000 square feet have been set aside for the appropriately named Vault lounge space, reached by walking through a massive, round doorway running parallel to the serving area and main room. A smaller 1,000-square-foot sitting area is found to the left and adjacent to the bar for patrons to congregate.
“We’re going to have some pictures of some 1940 ships from the era since there is a shared history here between Havana and Mobile,” Baumhower said.
The sister city relationship was established in 1993 by former mayor Mike Dow, according to the Society Mobile-La Habana website. Baumhower also cited his strong relationship with Maria Mendez, Latin America director with the Alabama Port Authority, as another connection between Mobile and Havana that influenced the theme of Las Floriditas.
Hours will tentatively be Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a possibility of Las Floriditas becoming an after-hours destination for patrons of Dauphin’s.
Other food choices will include West Indies-themed fare. Drinks will center around Cuban-style daiquiris, mojitos and Cuba libres. Beer will be available with an 8-12 draft tap selection flowing from behind the bar, in addition to a select bottle selection.
Total capital expenditure to renovate the space was upward of $200,000. Baumhower expects to have a grand opening involving the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce at a date to be announced. The restaurant expects to hire 30 new employees when it is staffed at full capacity. Other updates about Las Floriditas will be reported in future issues of Lagniappe.
Commercial real estate moves
• Pelican Point Advisors, LLC, a locally owned start-up company, announced the rollout of Pelident Financials, a financial software package servicing the dental industry. The company recently leased new office space in the USA Coastal Innovation Hub at 600 Clinic Drive, in suites 323 and 325 encompassing some 750 square feet.
Backed by several local-area “angel” investors, Pelican Point Advisors has hired two full-time employees with expectations to hire more within the next six to 12 months, per founder and president Adam Chronister. More information about the company can be found at pelident.com
• Club 4 Fitness, an all-inclusive fitness facility, is expanding in the central Gulf Coast market with the addition of four new locations in Alabama and Louisiana. Justin Toomey with Stirling Properties and Kenneth Herring with Kerioth Corporation worked with the tenant to identify and secure their retail locations locally.
Club 4 Fitness will occupy some 20,000 square feet of retail space in Hillcrest Plaza at 813 Hillcrest Road in Mobile. Plans are in place to open the facility sometime during first quarter of 2019. Cummings and Associates Inc. represented the property owner in the lease transaction.
Additionally, Club 4 Fitness is leasing a second site inside some 29,696 square feet of gym space at Schillinger Place at 2502 S. Schillinger Road in West Mobile. Angie McArthur with Stirling Properties represented the landlord in the transaction. Club 4 also plans to open this location sometime in the first quarter of 2019.
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