Ralph Lewis’ family has been in Palm Beach County for 90 years.
“My roots go back there,” he said. “My family has been in Loxahatchee since the 1950s.”
So when the restaurateur and patriarch of the family behind the storied Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach saw an opportunity to open a new restaurant in The Acreage, he jumped into action.
“That location became available, and when I seen it was available, that’s when I moved in,” Lewis said.
That location, on the southeast end of the Publix shopping center at the corner of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and Orange Boulevard, became the home for Lewis Prime Grill, a 120-seat restaurant that opened almost a year ago to rave reviews – and a growing fanbase in love with the restaurant’s happy hour, weekend breakfast service and the latest addition: Tuesday night barbecue.
“Lewis Prime Grill is doing amazing,” Lewis said. Happy hour service has been so popular that the restaurant just added another 12 high-top seats near the bar.
But folks in The Acreage aren’t just flocking to Lewis Prime on the weekends for the eggs benny and sausage gravy.
Oh no. Many of them want the bottomless mimosas.
In April, Lewis Prime started offering Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast – a first for Lewis.
There have been “a tremendous amount of repeat customers,” Lewis said.
For $18 a person, you and your friends can participate in the new Acreage ritual known as “getting Primed.” How, you ask?
Go to Lewis Prime Grill. Order bottomless mimosas. Drink. Then walk next door and do your weekly grocery shopping at Publix. Yes, it’s a thing.
It’s been particularly popular with younger adults and groups of moms.
“That is what people are doing,” Lewis said, laughing. “So now we’re even putting it out with a bit of our marketing.”
The breakfast menu also includes a traditional toast, meat and eggs breakfast, alongside a packed breakfast burrito, a selection of breakfast sandwiches and fluffy pancakes. Oh, and of course, steak and eggs.
One of the most popular breakfast items: eggs benedict, with thick-cut ham and creamy hollandaise, served with Lewis Prime’s smashed browns.
Also popular: the restaurant’s signature sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits.
“We have our own custom grind of sausage,” Lewis said. “This is not canned. Everything is really the best product you can buy.”
Lewis invited me to breakfast recently. My server was the wonderful Lori, who helped me decide between the eggs benedict and the biscuits and gravy – by bringing me both.
She also recommended the iced lavender latte, with cold brew coffee, lavender honey and cold foam. This was a pleasant surprise. I was a little worried it would be very sweet, but it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. It was the perfect complement to the savory breakfast food.
I dug into the eggs benedict first. The slice of ham, poached egg and hollandaise are served atop one of Lewis Prime’s buttermilk biscuits. I was delighted to find one of the best eggs benedicts I’ve had in Palm Beach County – it’s one of my favorite meals – and then was even more delighted when I tried the sausage gravy.
So let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I grew up around people who loved to cook. My mom, my extended family, my friends’ families – it felt like there were amateur chefs everywhere I looked. In fact, I think if she wanted to, my mom could make a small living making giant batches of homemade pasta, sauce and meatballs.
I’ve had a fair share of good sausage gravy in that time. One of my best friends in middle school was Southern, capital S, and her grandma was known for her home cooking.
This sausage gravy was on par with hers. No lie. And I really think the key to it is that “custom grind of sausage” Lewis mentioned. It’s peppery and rich without being overwhelming. I brought home the leftovers for my mom to try, and she agreed – it’s some of the best we’ve ever had.
Growing barbecue business
Over the past few years, Lewis and his team at Okeechobee Steakhouse have grown their barbecue business, to the point where Lewis Prime about two months ago started offering barbecue on Tuesday nights.
The first few nights, some of the top sellers sold out early in the night, prompting the team to prepare more, Lewis said.
The brisket, of course, is among the most popular barbecue items, he said. “We’re known for our brisket at all our locations,” he said.
Diners also can call ahead to order barbecue for takeout, my server Lori told me.
After starting the barbecue business as Okeechobee Prime Barbecue in a spot just behind Okeechobee Steakhouse, Lewis has capitalized on the popularity of his mouth-watering barbecue to include a new partnership with Taylor Farmhouse restaurant in Jupiter Farms, The Palm Beach Post reported last month.
Locals making food for locals
When Lewis Prime opened in November, there was some skepticism among some in The Acreage: What was this high-end restaurant doing coming into a rural area?
“I got news for them,” Lewis said. “I’m a local. My daughter was born out here. I lived out here when Okeechobee Boulevard wasn’t even paved.”
Lewis bought his 10-acre property on North Road about 40 years ago, he said. “I think after 90 years, we’re locals,” Lewis quipped.
Some of the skeptics questioned Lewis Prime’s prices. Before the restaurant opened, social media commenters wondered if the menu would be as pricey as Okeechobee Steakhouse.
That was never the intent, Lewis said.
The price point is lower. “Two people can come in here and eat dinner for $50, or they can spend $60 or $70 each,” he said.
The other misperception, Lewis said, is that diners have to be dressed up for a night at Lewis Prime Grill. “You can come in casual,” he said. “We’re not pretentious.”
In response to those on social media who balked at the restaurant’s opening, Lewis’ beverage director created a cocktail called The Acreage Speaks, named after a popular Facebook group.
The drink’s description: “Strong-minded whiskey, bitter feelings, sour citrus.”
It’s been popular, and softened some of those who were skeptical, Lewis said.
“I just let it slide when they say all that stuff, because I’m used to it,” he said, adding that he wants to focus on pleasing the people who come in for great food and a great time. “They’re the ones supporting us.”
Lewis Prime Grill
Address: 7040 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, Suite 29, Loxahatchee
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; happy hour is 4 to 7p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Information: www.lewisprimegrill.com, 561-619-5115
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