The Wharf Fort Lauderdale is reopening on Friday, Nov. 20, restoring a signature downtown open-air entertainment and gathering spot, just in time for holiday visitors.
Returning with COVID-conscious changes in place, the Wharf’s weekend festivities, beginning at noon Friday-Sunday, will celebrate the property’s first anniversary.
Technically, the reopening will miss the anniversary by about two weeks, but that was a sacrifice the Wharf’s ownership accepted to make sure the venue was safe, according to Emi Guerra, co-founder of Breakwater Hospitality Group.
“We were not going to rush to reopen, because we wanted to make sure we were first able to provide the best experience possible in the safest way for our guests,” says Guerra, who also operates the Wharf Miami.
There has been remodeling to promote social distancing; capacity will be limited; and masks must be worn by guests when they are not drinking or eating.
“Our venue is over an acre in size so we have plenty of space to work with. We have removed our standing-room area and increased our seating area to accommodate guests,” Guerra says.
The Wharf Miami opened last weekend, celebrating its third anniversary, with similar protocols in place.
“Thus far, the feedback and reception from our guests has been amazing and staff are excited to get back to work,” Guerra says. “It’s the perfect time of the year for us to reopen, with it being a completely outdoor venue and the weather here in South Florida cooling down for the winter months.”
Nestled along the New River in the shadows of two new residential towers — Society Las Olas and Four West Las Olas — the Wharf Fort Lauderdale was instantly popular both for young parents with kids and dogs lounging in the sun and late-night rabble-rousers there for drinks and live music.
Society Las Olas on Friday will unveil a 27-foot sculpture by South African artist Daniel Popper, best known for pieces he has erected on the beach in Tulum and at music festivals around the world. The sculpture, going up adjacent to the Wharf, will only add to the Instagrammy allure of the area.
The Wharf Fort Lauderdale will kick off weekly Thursday programming on Dec. 3 with the return of its annual Riverfront Holiday Village, which runs through Dec. 27. It will include lighting, oversized decorations and a menu of holiday cocktails.
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As always, there will be no shortage of noshing options at the Wharf’s stable of pop-ups by favorite local chefs. Among them are Dean James Max’s Even Keel; Lunchroom, from Elliot Wolf’s Be Nice restaurant group; Hou Mei, by Temple Street Eatery’s chef-owners Alex Kuk and Diego Ng; pizza by Chef Jose Mendin’s The Piefather; and Mojo Donuts.