Mangos is returning to Las Olas Boulevard in style this week, with two parties, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a Valentine’s Day reopening that the Fort Lauderdale restaurant hopes will rekindle passions among former customers.
The venerable eatery and lounge was shuttered for more than a year after a sale and renovations that took longer than expected. The revamped restaurant will be back in business on Wednesday, Feb. 14, after holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony and VIP party tonight (Feb. 12).
On Feb. 18, the new owners will host a grand-reopening party for the public from 6 to 10 p.m. that will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and will feature a sleek new lounge area with DJs, dancers and live bands.
The menu will feature “American fusion” cuisine, new owner Bruno Vaccari says. It’s a blend of traditional favorites such as burgers, fish sandwiches and tacos with Peruvian ceviches and Italian specialties such as octopus carpaccio, short-rib ravioli and veal chops.
The design of the renovated restaurant is decidedly more chic and modernist than the rustic and relaxed touristy vibe of the original. The new Mangos seems more South Beach nightclub — with waterfall walls, black leather couches and white LED-lighted tables — than old Fort Liquordale. In a press release, Vaccari says the lounge will offer VIP bottle service to go along with the entertainment.
Mangos attracted a steady stream of tourists and locals alike during its original 25-year run. In January 2017, the ownership group headed by John Day sold the restaurant to a group headed by Vaccari, a sommelier and restaurant-industry veteran. It remains to be seen how the old crowd, and newcomers, will embrace the new look.
Vaccari has hired Alessandro Manzo, formerly of Miami’s Segafredo Brickell, as general manager, and Francesco Giuzio, formerly of Bocce in Miami, as executive chef. The new ownership group also includes accountant Rafael Ferrer, of Weston, according to state records.
Landlord Tim Petrillo says the new owners have been paying rent for the entire year that the restaurant has been closed, with renovations first billed as “minor” stretched out by permit problems and other issues. “They ended up gutting it completely,” Petrillo said last month.
In 2013, one of Day's partners sold the Mangos land, but not the restaurant, to a group that includes businessman Steve Halmos and Petrillo for $5.6 million.
Petrillo operates several high-profile Fort Lauderdale eateries as president of the Restaurant People, including YOLO, S3 and Tarpon Bend, but he will not have control of Mangos until the lease expires or is bought out. Last year, Petrillo told me his group couldn't complete a buyout of the lease with the previous owners. The new owners have a lease that runs through May 2024, Petrillo says.