The team behind 32 East is a close-knit group that built the restaurant from the ground up. Since then, they have all gone on to undergo a variety of other successful endeavors ranging from other restaurants to real estate projects. Remaining close to their original milestone venture, you can frequently see them in 32 East speaking with customers and bringing their own families to eat.
Managing partner, affectionately referred to as “Butch”, is the driving force behind 32 East. Handling every detail in the front of the house, he can be found nightly warmly greeting customers by name and visiting each table to make certain of complete customer satisfaction. His dynamic personality and enthusiasm permeate the dining room and set the tone for the attentive, yet cordial service that his staff provides.
Educated at Villanova and Temple Universities in Philadelphia, in the late 60’s Butch entered his father’s construction company, renovating and restoring buildings. He entered the hospitality industry in 1995, when he and his partners purchased the building on Atlantic Avenue which is now currently home to 32 East, and developed the restaurant concept from the ground up.
Butch, as Managing Partner, oversees every aspect of the restaurant’s operation, but his passion is the wine list. He became intensely interested in wine in 1972, when a friend gave him his first Hugh Johnson wine book. He continues to enjoy personally selecting and creating one of the most extensive and highly acclaimed wine lists in the area, stocked with intriguing boutique offerings, as well as highly regarded favorites. As with wine, Butch hand selects employees that have the same dedication and passion for food, service, and wine as he does. Employees will tell you that working at the restaurant is like being part of a family. A number of its current employees have been with the company since its opening day. His dedication has earned 32 East numerous commendations, which you can view in the press portion of our page.
“The kitchen was always the place our family congregated while growing up,” said new 32 East Executive Chef John Thomas. “And food was always a focal point at home,” he added.
For Chef John, affectionately known as JT, returning “home” (once again) to the 32 East kitchen and ascending to the position of executive chef has been a long time goal. Replacing Chef Nick Morfogen, perhaps a daunting task to some, has been a natural progression for the talented chef who spent over a decade of Chef Nick’s 32 tenure by his side.
“He gave me the knowledge and discipline that got me to where I am now,” Thomas said. It is exactly that knowledge that has allowed the restaurant a seamless transition for staff and continuity of cuisine for their many loyal guests.
The Boynton Beach native was a freshman at FAU when he took his first restaurant job as a food runner at the former East City Bistro on Atlantic Avenue in 1998. But in short order he left FAU for the Florida Culinary Institute and traded front of the house for the back. “After working the pantry, I immediately fell in love with the kitchen environment. “Everything from the pace, work ethic, the lingo and even the way the chef yelled during the rush; I absolutely loved it!”
Chef JT worked at Big City Tavern, the Seagate and Sol Kitchen among others where he honed his culinary skills working sautee, pantry, as a line cook and ultimately as executive sous. But while each venture away from 32 East helped expand his ability, the call “home” would eventually come, bringing John back to his mentor.
One of his newest and most well received dishes is a riff on a former 32 classic pork entrée; replacing the grilled chop with Iberico Pork Pluma Steak, the mashed yams with sweet potato dumplings and the braised greens in butter sauce with Brussels sprouts with a pear mole. A bold plate that became an instant hit and was recently featured in the Sun-Sentinel.
Chef John Thomas remains close with his parents, sister, niece and nephew, who all reside in nearby Boynton Beach. When he’s not developing new dishes or in the kitchen, he enjoys barbecuing with the family, hanging out with his pit bull, Louie or hitting the beach.
At 32 East, the legendary Delray “foodie” house, spirits manager John Fitzpatrick has learned a few things about flavor.
Working with the 32 kitchen, most notably on their famous home-made absinthe, Fitzy was able to create an iconic drink menu which New Times magazine recently anointed “the best whiskey cocktails in Palm Beach County.”
Fitzy has been a fixture in Downtown Delray since moving here from Manhattan with his wife, Marit, in 2000. In 2001 he was selected to help design and open the bar at one of Delray’s first mega high profile restaurants, Sopra, with award winning Chef, Glen Manfra.
He is probably best known for building his own place, Fitzy’s Lounge, in 2005. The famous hot spot was the “go to” for locals and hospitality worker’s after shift shenanigans until he sold it in 2009.
He currently resides with his wife and two dogs, Meatloaf and Miss Ellie, in Ocean Ridge and yes, he likes reading books about whiskey and long walks on the beach!