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Ambitious brothers bringing new seafood restaurant to Mizner Park in Boca Raton

Ouzo Bay has been a success at Mizner Park in Boca Raton since opening last year, and the Greek restaurant’s Baltimore-based ownership group will soon open Loch Bar, a seafood restaurant specializing in raw-bar items and upscale whiskey. Is it just the beginning of a wave of new South Florida eateries from a young, ambitious brother duo who are in the midst of a rapid national expansion?

“We’re going to open Loch Bar this fall and see how it goes,” says Alex Smith, 34, head of Atlas Restaurant Group. “We have a number of concepts that could be a good fit in South Florida. It may be another restaurant in Mizner. You never know.”

Loch Bar is under construction and hopes to open by October. Alex and brother Eric, 28, whose family has long been involved in the food industry, opened the first Ouzo Bay at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2012. By 2019, they expect to be operating 19 restaurants with eight concepts in four cities: Baltimore, Boca Raton, Houston and Washington, D.C.

“I don’t sleep much anymore,” says Eric Smith, the company’s co-founder.

The 200-seat, 5,500-square-foot Loch Bar will occupy space across from Max’s Grille and next to Villagio restaurant at 346 Plaza Real East, a spot that once housed Karma and Spin Ultra Lounge. Like Ouzo Bay, Loch Bar originated in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The Boca Raton outpost will feature 14 varieties of oysters, crab legs, ceviches, tuna poke and cooked dishes along with 350 whiskey varietals and extensive champagne, wine and beer options. The Smiths say it will aim for a younger crowd, offering lower prices than Ouzo Bay and live music nightly and at Sunday brunch.

“I think Mizner is really being revitalized, and the whole area is being redeveloped in an exciting, fresh way,” Alex Smith says.

Mizner has two other high-profile restaurant vacancies following the closings of Truluck’s seafood restaurant and Junior’s Restaurant and Cheesecake of Brooklyn. The Smiths say they have not signed any leases at Mizner except for Loch Bar and Ouzo Bay, but they are considering national expansions of two other concepts that have sprouted in Baltimore: Japanese-sushi restauant Azumi and Italian chophouse restaurant Tagliata.

The Smiths have a long history with South Florida. Their family, which descends from Greek immigrants who founded H & S Bakery, has a winter home in Boynton Beach, where the brothers spent holidays and school breaks growing up. They say they are still learning the area from a business perspective. Atlas announced in July the hiring of two restaurant executives who worked with Dennis Max at Max’s Grille, Laura Huron and Brian Bagley, “to facilitate the restaurant group’s forecasted South Florida growth and expansion.”

Atlas Restaurant Group recently announced plans to bring Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar to Houston. This week, it announced a deal to bring two restaurants to a new hotel project in Washington, D.C. In three years, Atlas has become the greater Baltimore area’s second biggest restaurant group, with 10 restaurants open and one more on the way.

mmayo@southflorida.com, 954-356-4508. Follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats. Sign up for my weekly dining newsletter at SouthFlorida.com/EatBeatMail.

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