Excelsior has a new tropical oasis in town!
When Excelsior’s well-known sports bar, the Suburban, came up for sale last year, a pair of locals, Jeff Doyle and Ben James, immediately saw it as an opportunity to invest in their hometown.
As a young boy, Jeff recalls biking on a path near his home that cuts through Excelsior and reflects, “I couldn’t have imagined then that I would someday own a restaurant in my own hometown!”
Jeff and Ben, however, are not new to the business world. They own another business in the design and marketing sector: Blue Label Creative, which has been successful in designing brands and the branded environment for several businesses, including restaurants. Taking on a new venture into this space, especially being a hometown one, was a natural fit for the pair. The wheels started and continued to turn quickly after their purchase in the fall of 2022. MontegoBlu officially opened in early May 2023.
The “MontegoBlu” name comes from a blend of inspirations from the tropical city of Montego Bay in the Caribbean as well as the design firm backing the venture, Blue Label Creative. Why a tropical ambiance? Jeff shares, “We wanted patrons to feel that they could come through the door and feel as if they were immediately transported to some of their favorite warm destinations like a mini tropical vacation, all without leaving Excelsior.”
MontegoBlu is described as a ‘Tropical American Kitchen”. On first impression, that description may seem like a contradiction in terms. Jeff explains, however, that while there is a specialization in tropical cuisine (and not just Caribbean), it also includes the traditional “American” menu standards. Regular patrons familiar with the Suburban’s classic fare of burgers and fries with their famous feature item, the “Labor Inducer,” will not be disappointed. When you enter, MontegoBlu certainly still feels at home to those of us who have been coming to the Suburban for years.
But Jeff and Ben wanted more than just a catchy name and tropical décor. To make MontegoBlu truly worthy of its namesake, they wanted genuine authenticity and quality and brought in their friend Kenneth Montague from Jamaica as their head chef. Jeff says, “Patrons can be sure it’s the real thing when it comes to the tropical genre. That is something we are uniquely proud of”. Looking at the menu, you'll find a lot of new tropical-inspired items Kenneth has crafted, including Mahi Mahi, Conch Fritters, Hot Honey Glazed Coconut Shrimp, and Island Tacos, delicacies you’d expect more at a beachside restaurant in the Florida Keys. Couple that with an extensive menu of colorful island cocktails from a full bar, and you can almost feel the sand squish between your toes.
As you walk through the doors of MontegoBlu, you will also ‘see’ the influence of Blue Label Creative immediately. The wavey tilework and tropical color motif compliments the ambiance of the tropics. Jeff continues, “We want patrons to feel as if MontegoBlu is an extension of the beach and waterfront they have just arrived from. Shorts and beach shoes are the norm!” Aside from the main dining area, a generously sized “Event” room is available for private functions, and an “al fresco” patio for dining and music on those balmy summer evenings.
On Fridays and Saturdays, MontegoBlu has also added cover-free live music that will complete your journey to the tropical oasis.
Perhaps the experience of visiting MontegoBlu is described best by what you see on the staff’s shirts: “Smile, You’re on Vacation!”
Learn more at: www.montegoblu.com