The Trophy Room, opening this fall on South Shore Blvd. in Wellington, is in for the win. It promises a sophisticated dining experience that combines a wide variety of New American cuisine, a lux atmosphere and dynamic nightlife, all in one.
“We want to create something that isn’t just a good meal — it’s an experience,” Trophy Room co-owner Rob Gray explained.
Gray and his team hope to score big, taking over the location that formerly housed the Grille Fashion Cuisine, a hotspot popular with locals and visiting equestrians alike.
Gray, who grew up in a family of equestrian riders, has teamed up with his friend and business partner, Teddy Vlock. The two formed T&R Development — first focusing on real estate, and now, a newly formed hospitality division. The duo hopes to win over the hearts and appetites of both the Wellington community, and those who visit the winter equestrian capital of the world, by offering a global menu.
“The menu is a great mix of what you would call New American,” Gray said. “It’s a broad term, giving you the freedom to touch on so many different areas. It has the steak house side to it, then Asian, mixed with some Italian flair. So, it’s a great combination of cuisines.”
Gray wants the entire experience to be desirable to people of all ages.
“Something that appeals to a younger crowd that wants to come in and have a meal that they’re sharing, and maybe later dinner,” he explained. “But also be able to cater to an older crowd that wants to have the traditional appetizer, entrée and dessert.”
Designing the menu is Executive Chef Joseph Bonavita Jr., a New York native who brings to the kitchen more than 12 years of experience. Bonavita studied at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago under world-renowned chefs. He was most recently executive chef of the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, as well as executive chef of 50 Ocean in Delray Beach.
“He has a lot of experience, and he’s very versatile,” Gray said. “He has a passion for food. He loves cooking with all fresh ingredients.”
On the menu are a variety of sharable options.
“We have an extensive sharable menu, like steak tartare with octopus. We have a snacks menu with items like onion dip, as well as shaved Brussels sprouts,” Gray said. “Also, a sweet corn bisque, as well as everything from steak and seafood, a raw bar, to homemade pastas. We’re really going to utilize the brick oven for pizza and a few other dishes. It’s a great asset.”
Gray and his team are also trying to source products locally. “We’re trying to work with as many local people as possible,” he said. “We’re also bringing in oysters from Island Creek Oyster Farm in Massachusetts, which is one of the best oyster providers in the country.”
This isn’t Gray’s first experience with the hospitality business. The 27-year-old entrepreneur began working in the equestrian business at age 18. He developed the Gallery nightlife venue at the Winter Equestrian Festival back in 2015. After much brainstorming, he and his team came up with the name Trophy Room.
“There’s no escaping the equestrian culture in Wellington. I didn’t want to play directly off of it. It seemed a good balance of embodying what we wanted to achieve, which was a lux rich interior with high-quality finishings. A great experience, classic food, but keeping with what you imagine to be in Wellington without being so direct about it,” Gray explained.
The restaurant space has undergone a complete transformation. It seats 175, which includes outdoor seating and the bar, along with a private dining room for 35, with the goal of streamlining it all together to give it a feeling of synergy.
A color scheme of black, white, navy and gold fills the restaurant. To give it a lounge feel, banquette seating fills the space with tufted navy leather and white Carrera tables with brushed gold bases. The private dining room is designed with navy velvet chairs. The tables in the room are an ebony-stained wood with white director’s chairs.
A fully custom back bar has also been built with black-and-white marble.
“The bar is now directly in front of the kitchen with mahogany shelves, an antique mirror, gold accents and an LED-lit back bar. It’s going to be really beautiful,” Gray said.
The full bar includes an extensive and diverse wine list.
“We’re at 110 bottles. It’s a lot of American vineyards, but because of Wellington being so international in the winter months, we have a great international selection of Spanish, French and Italian wines, among other countries,” he said.
An upscale cocktail list to suit all tastes was also created. “We really would love to bring an elevated cocktail culture with specialty cocktails ranging from your traditional margaritas to your classics like your gin fizz,” Gray explained.
The team plans to offer a regular happy hour to keep the Wellington community engaged and close to home.
“I think it’s something that will be a great addition to the community,” Gray said of the new restaurant. “Our goal is to bring something that isn’t currently in Wellington and wasn’t in Wellington before, which is a fine-dining restaurant with a lounge-type atmosphere and an upscale dining experience. There’s so much more to a great experience, a great meal, than the quality of the food. It’s the overall atmosphere, and so much of that comes from a great staff, from the moment you walk in the door to when you leave — it’s so important.”
The Trophy Room is located at 12300 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 793-2110 or visit www.trophyroomrestaurant.com.