Shuttered for a year after a sale and renovations, Mangos Restaurant and Lounge will soon reopen on Las Olas Boulevard with a revamped, chic interior that is more South Beach modernist than Fort Lauderdale tourist casual.
Black couches, white tables and Italian marble flooring with fashionable red streaks are among the design touches in the redesigned bar and lounge area. Indoor and outdoor dining areas will feature wood tables with red chairs. A preliminary menu shows traditional favorites such as burgers, fish sandwiches and tacos along with Italian dishes such as octopus carpaccio, short-rib ravioli and veal chops.
How the trendy overhaul will go over with past customers remains to be seen. Mangos was a Las Olas mainstay for 25 years until its sale in January 2017. The restaurant was popular with locals and visitors for its live music and relaxed porch that was perfect for people-watching.
Landlord Tim Petrillo says the new ownership group has 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 says.
The restaurant aims to reopen in February, with staff now being hired and training planned for the coming weeks. Mangos recently received its state restaurant license after passing a kitchen inspection, and it has gotten a certificate of occupancy from Fort Lauderdale. On Tuesday, workers put a fresh coat of black paint on the porch, and chef Francesco Giuzio sat in a back office with a stack of job applications nearby.
Giuzio is a native of Italy who previously worked at Mia Bella Roma in Miami Beach. General manager Alessandro Manzo and co-owner Bruno Vaccari also have experience at Italian restaurants in South Florida. The new ownership group also includes accountant Rafael Ferrer, of Weston, according to state records.
"We are, finally, very close to opening," Vaccari wrote in an email. He says the revamped Mangos will be an "American fusion restaurant" that blends its past with some European touches. "The really few Italian [dishes] present on the menu are part of the American fusion," he wrote.
Longtime Fort Lauderdale restaurateur John Day was part of the previous ownership group that sold Mangos last January. “We had a sweet offer, and a great run, so it was time," Day said last year.
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. Earlier that year, a deal to sell the restaurant to an Orlando-based group for $2.5 million fell through.
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.