Sawgrass Mills Mall Transforms Into a Dining Destination, With 14th Restaurant on Its Way
Just about to add its 14th sit-down restaurant, the Sawgrass Mills mall has, fairly quietly, become something of a dining destination.
The west Broward County outlet mall added three new restaurants recently in an effort to offer more high-end options: the Brazilian-style churrascaria Texas de Brazil, the gastropub Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirits and a Cuban cocktail party spot called mojitobar & plates by Douglas Rodriguez.
The idea is not only to serve mall shoppers but to bring people to Sawgrass simply for the restaurants, says David Gott, the general manager.
In its 27th year, Sawgrass has been mostly known more for the traditional mall food court than for sit-down restaurants. For a generation, perhaps the most visible exception was the Rainforest Café, with its faux thunderstorm and Disney-like décor. But Gott says it has become increasingly important for malls to offer a range of restaurants.
“At this point,” Gott says, “there should be something to keep everyone happy.”
In addition to the restaurants, the mall has also added a valet service that allows people to send a text when they’re ready for their cars.
The mall’s location is the first Florida outpost for Matchbox, which specializes in brick-oven pizzas, burgers and pasta. This is also the biggest of the chain’s locations, with 500 seats spread over a 14,000-square-foot restaurant that’s partially open air.
Texas de Brazil might be half that size, but the mall’s location still holds a salad bar with 60 rotating items. Waiters make their rounds slicing from 16 cuts of meat and seafood.
Chef Douglas Rodriguez, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Nuevo Latino” cuisine, created his mojito bar & plates concept to be something of a party. There are rotating DJs and “servertainers” who just might break out in a salsa dance bringing you that mint-stuffed drink.
Next to arrive at Sawgrass will be a Yard House, directly across from the mojito bar. There’s one more spot for a sit-down restaurant that Gott says he’s keeping open for that “perfect fit.”
While there has been a lot written lately about online shopping pulling people away from malls, Gott says Sawgrass continues to increase its volume of shoppers year after year, although he wouldn't say exact numbers.
“If I go home and ask my wife what she wants to do tonight and she says shop online, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun,” Gott says. “So our goal is to keep people happy when they come to the mall.”
Photos courtesy of Sawgrass Mills