By Jeff Babineau

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The 17th hole at Boca Rio Golf Club is a haven for spectators. The short but picturesque par 3, guarded by water on the right, has nearly yielded an ace or two this week – co-leader Danielle Kang hit the flagstick on Day 1. Perhaps the most challenging thing for players is trying not to drift away and be distracted the many delicious food aromas coming from the Delray Beach Market off to the right of the tee.  

The actual Delray Beach Market is a fairly new (less than a year old) cultural hub in the heart of downtown Delray Beach, offering a wide variety of foods and a great gathering experience. At the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, the Market has recreated a taste for what the full Delray Beach Market offers for tournament attendees.

“We wanted to bring a taste of the market to the golf course,” said Tara Lubin, Vice-President of Marketing for Menin Development, which oversaw the building of the unique 60,000 square-foot market a block south of Atlantic Avenue over what was once a parking lot. “For us, it’s been a great experience as far as bringing out our vendors, which include many small mom and pop shops, and to give them exposure to come out here. It’s been tremendous.”

A customer can walk station to station sampling all kinds of foods from different vendors, and the offerings shift with each day. On Friday, that included pizza from Salvo’s Pizzeria, vegan offerings from Roots, or tasty organic Mexican salad from Freshop, among other stations. There was an ice cream truck from Bona Bona on the grounds on Thursday. This weekend, Vote for Pedro is plotting and planning to become the most popular stop by offering hot soup to all tournament attendees.

The man at the point of developing the Delray Beach Market, Craig Menin, happens to be a member at Boca Rio. Two years ago, the development group bought a traditional, covered hospitality suite, the kind you’re seen at hundreds of tournaments. This year, a bustling market, with folks drinking tequila and other beverages in an outdoor patio setting, has become a cooler vibe. 

Why has the downtown market been successful? Because it’s hard to get 10 of your friends together and decide on one restaurant on a Friday night. “People can come and drink, they can dine, and they can take goods home with them and eat at their own homes,” said Bob Higginbotham, Director of Food and Beverage for Menin Development. “It’s great for groups.”

Best part of this week’s temporary market at Boca Rio: It’s different. Even if the great smells may make that tee shot tough for those standing on the nearby 17th tee. 

Weekend Delray Beach Market Hospitality Passes are $50, which includes complimentary food and beverages and available for purchase at www.GainbridgeLPGA.com.

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