Few locals have done more to bring the creative fringe mainstream than Rodney Mayo, owner of Subculture Group, which operates more than 20 dining and entertainment establishments across South Florida. It all started 35 years ago with Respectable Street, a bar and venue for “the music that doesn’t get played anywhere else.”
“I went to film school in California and got introduced to the punk new wave scene,” Mayo shares. “When I left school and came back here, it was just nowhere; I’d have to drive down to Miami to a hole-in-the-wall club to listen to any of that.”
This summer, Mayo introduced an on-street station called Subculture Radio, an idea he got from the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. With speakers on the street, listeners can pull up a chair, watch the recording live, and interact with the DJs and podcast hosts. “When I did some investigation, that was a very common thing in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s [to have] Main Street radio stations that played to the sidewalk,” says Mayo. “When we started closing the 500 Block on weekends, it seemed like the perfect area to do it, so we carved out a radio station in the front of Respectables.”
When it comes to Subculture’s restaurant offerings, the group is debuting six new spots in six months. Aside from more Subculture Coffee locations (a Palm Beach Gardens outpost opened in September and the new Delray Subculture is coming soon), they’re also reorganizing. The Kapow Noodle Bar at Boca Raton’s Mizner Park has moved across the plaza and quadrupled in size; Penelope, a French New Orleans–style restaurant and cocktail lounge, will take its place. Also at Mizner Park, the former home of Dubliner Irish Pub will become Shaker and Pie, serving Neapolitan pizzas and cocktails.
But Boca’s not getting all the action. At the former C.W.S. Bar + Kitchen space in Lake Worth Beach, Man Ray—named for the major contributor to the Dada art movement—will be similar to Delray Beach’s Dada. Expect an eclectic, chef-driven menu. “It has a big outdoor patio, so we’ll do a lot of entertainment there as well,” Mayo adds.
The addition Mayo is perhaps most excited about is ’Ve, a vegan eatery opening next to Subculture on Clematis. Mayo tweaked the concept for over a year and tried multiple chefs before nailing it. “I’ve always wanted to do a vegan spot but had a really hard time getting the right concept,” he says. Guided by the Hippocratic principle to “let food be thy medicine,” ’Ve will bring animal-free eats to a population craving more plant-based options.