Dixie Grill & Brewery is one of the most unique restaurants around. Another distinctive creation by Richard Preefer and Jay Preefer, who have previously brought A Bit of Nostalgia, The Bowery, Rod & Gun, The Hut and The Palm Beach Ale House to Palm Beach County. Each place has held antiques and collectibles that the brothers have personally collected throughout the years.
The restaurant that started it all for Richard Preefer and his brother Jay was a showcase for antiques that left each customer to find their own nostalgic memories. Many functioning antiques were not immediately noticed by customers, such as the 1876 bar in the Carousel room which stood as five individual pieces assembled to reach 23 feet in length across the side of the room or the Carousel itself that allowed customers to rotate around the room while they ate. On the weekends there was even a shoeshine man in the hallway leading to the restrooms where one could sit in the same chairs the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers used when they visited the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach during its heyday. A truly one-of-a-kind place that left most patrons enjoying the memories brought to mind by the antique pieces on the walls and the good times had at the restaurant.
Dubbed the “million-dollar club,” The Bowery was the second restaurant creation by the Preefer brothers. Keeping with their interests in antiques, the décor of The Bowery included bevel-cut mirrors set in mahogany bar-backs and even marble-top booths from old drug stores. Located on Okeechobee Boulevard in what was considered a popular bar area during the time, the restaurant and lounge contained five bars (all but one was antique) and nightly entertainment, including many national acts. The Bowery was written up as one of the best new places when it opened in 1982, and was described as “a big rock place which is bringing in new talent regularly.” The professional stage with top lighting and sound systems were separate from the dining room, and the music would begin an hour after the restaurant was closed. National acts including Spiro Gyra, Fog Hat, The Rail, The Producers, Guess Who, Pat Travers, Eddie Money, Golden Earring, Firefall, Steppenwolf, The Outlaws and even the Chippendale dancers performed there. Between the live acts, a DJ would spin records and control the lighting for a continued club atmosphere. Any place inside the lounge had a good view for major events due to the 10-foot screen on the side of the room, which also would show events on broadcast TV. The lounge was open until 5 am, which made it one of the few late-night (early morning) clubs in the area.
The Sun-Sentinel in February 1985 proclaimed this restaurant another winner by the Preefer twins. Serving steaks, seafood, veal and wild game this restaurant was considered the best “game” in town. The restaurant had its own interesting history without referring to the classic antique bars or tables. The wood building was once the site where James Elwood had a sporting goods shop favored by anglers, hunters and campers making their way to Loxahatchee, Florida. The shop closed its doors during the 1970s, but was reopened as the restaurant, which kept the time-honored name. With the interesting food and the lodge feel, Rod N Gun had a different atmosphere than most of the Preefers’ restaurants, but proved to be just as popular in its time.
Different than the antique-filled places that had come before it, The Palm Beach Ale House is a true sports bar. Boasting 110+ televisions and sports memorabilia on the walls, it is the go-to place to catch any sporting event. When the new smoking laws came into effect, owners quickly thought of adding two outside bars that allowed patrons to eat and drink while in a comfortable new area. The place is an estimated 8,000 square feet with pool tables, games and even some trivia or poker being played during the week. While Richard and Jay have always appreciated being involved with each place, they knew by now that they wanted a restaurant on a smaller scale that could run like the one that started it all, A Bit of Nostalgia.
A throwback to the original 1931 drive-in restaurant on Flagler Drive that served three generation of locals was a perfect fit for the Preefer brothers (Palm Beach High School class of 1964) who had visited the original when they were in high school. With several hundred alumni locally from Palm Beach High alone, the restaurant brought back fond memories of being a teenager in a convertible with the top down eating curb-service burgers. While the newer Hut had no curb service, it had all the vintage appeal of the original, including original Hut stools and booths from the 1940s. This was not just filled with the antiques and nostalgia that the brothers remembered from high school, but many locals provided pictures and memorabilia from their own days at high schools such as Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, and Palm Beach High. Even Burt Reynolds contributed his Palm Beach High letterman’s sweater, which was framed on the wall. Unfortunately, the new Hut did not last as long as the owners had hoped, when Richard Preefer suffered some health problems he knew he needed to slow down for a while but was not near ready to retire from the business.
The last restaurant creation by the Preefer twins, opened in 2004 after taking over 5101 Dixie Highway. A small place like many of the other bars and restaurants found along South Dixie Highway, but with the Antique Row twist. New pieces are brought in frequently because the founders are true collectors, always with another antique piece striking their interest. In 2014, Richard’s daughter and son-in-law took over the business, becoming the second generation to run this great place. With the addition of the brewery on site, Dixie Grill & Brewery, became one of the few brewpubs in Palm Beach County. Almost all menu items are made from scratch and daily soups, lunch specials, and dinner specials are always changing to keep the menu fresh, with creation ideas heard from staff members and customers alike. Some patrons have told Dixie Grill staff that the restaurant reminds them of an old place that used to be located in Lantana. Usually when our staff names the place being remembered (A Bit of Nostalgia), the patron is happily surprised to learn that there is a connection to bring back such fond memories. From the decor, to the food, to the drinks, we hope you enjoy your visit and we will see you again soon!