Thursday, December 7, 2023

Mom and Pop Shops to Visit in Delray

In an age of big box stores, it’s refreshing to find something unique. You just won’t get the same personability in a corporate setting as you will in a family-owned business. With friendly and familiar faces and the local sense of community, family is at the core of each of these businesses. 

Papa’s Tapas 

Owners of Papa’s Tapas, Mama and Papa Parra

Making its first appearance in Delray Beach in 2008, this restaurant’s roots go much deeper, drawing inspiration from when Papa himself was a child standing beside his mom, a private chef in Spain in the ‘50s, as she prepared meals. His children grew up the same way, always in the restaurant helping out. Before coming to Delray, the Parra family had owned other restaurants—one a Mexican restaurant in the Dominican Republic—but Papa’s Tapas is their first tapas concept. It is best known for, of course, its tapas, but also the paella and homemade Sangria. “It’s authentic Spanish tapas. There’s nothing really like it.” says Christina Parra. The menu was uniquely created based on the recipes from Papa’s childhood and the tapas arrive at the table “hot and sizzling” in small brown cazuelas.

Christina is the youngest daughter of Papa, and now the manager of Papa’s Tapas. They originally decided to come to Delray because Christina’s older sister was already living here. She told the family that the town was “up-and-coming” and suggested they open a restaurant in the area. 

When speaking to the Parra family about the secret to their success, the resounding answer was hard work. From the parents to the kids, the whole family has put their all into running this restaurant, but Christina says they’re “not done yet.” After just graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Business, she and her siblings have big plans for the restaurant. She hopes to grow the business in the future, with more locations for them to share their authentic menu with others. Until then, this restaurant is one of a kind and can only be found right here in Delray Beach.

259 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach; 561/ 266-0599;

Bill Hood & Sons Art & Antique Auctions

The team at Bill Hood & Sons

Long time residents of Delray Beach, Bill Hood and his family started Bill Hood & Sons, an art and antique store and auction house, in 1989. Since Bill’s passing in 2021, his wife, Carolyn Hood, has taken over as president with sons and grandchildren learning and running the business. The store houses high-priced items including paintings, sculptures, antique furniture and glass pieces. The collection is constantly being refreshed as estates are liquidated and each auction makes every visit a different experience. 

As its reputation has grown locally, so has its online presence, allowing for phone bids and international sales. On auction night, the Hood children and grandchildren are active in running the auction, doing everything from taking the phone bids to running the floor. These auctions happen about every five weeks on Tuesday nights and showcase the unique items that have been acquired through estate sales and consignment.

Chris Hood tells me that Hood’s secret to success is to “be upfront and be honest” with the customers. That means being honest about what items are worth and making sure that the customer is fully satisfied with his or her exchange. As a family-run business with a long-standing reputation here in Delray, the Hoods are “just doing what we tell people we’re going to do.” Several members of this hardworking family can be found at the store, greeting customers with smiles and sharing information about the art and antiques.

2885 S. Congress Ave., Suite B, Delray Beach; 561/ 278-8996;

The Girls

Petting zoo at The Girls

Starting as just an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, The Girls has expanded into something of a Delray attraction, including a petting zoo, gem mining and duck racing. Visitors can interact with most of the animals, which include birds, goats, donkeys, miniature horses and rabbits. (There is also a swan and kinkajou.) The birds and goats can be fed, and the rabbits can be snuggled in blankets. One of the grandchildren working the business, Jovanina Palermo, says they’re “growing everyday,” with the newest addition a train ride to shuttle the kids by each exhibit.

Inside, guests get their New York Style slices from Bambini’s and/or some ice cream from the parlor and can have a seat surrounded by antiques and knick-knacks that line the walls and hang from the ceiling. 

All this is run by the Palermo family who opened The Boys Farmers Market in Delray Beach in 1985. Branching off from The Boys market, “The Girls” of the family set out to make a name for themselves, opening their store in 2007. Gramma’s Bakery opened next door in 2010, followed in 2014 by Bambini’s Pizzeria. From the aunts and uncles, to the grandchildren and Gramma, the whole family is involved in creating the energy of this hidden gem.

14466 S. Military Trail, Delray Beach; 561/ 496-0188;

Huber Drugs Pharmacy

Nestled along Atlantic Avenue, Huber Drugs Pharmacy has been in the heart of Delray for more than 100 years. Opening in 1912 as Love’s Drugs, the pharmacy was across the street from where it is today. That location had a fountain and diner in the store, described by the current owner, Allen Rutman, as a “pharmacy the way it was in the 1930s.” Bud Huber was hired by James Love to be a manager of Huber, and in the mid ‘70s Huber bought the store and changed the name to Huber Drugs. After Huber’s death in 1989, the company was bought by Rutman in 1995. He decided to keep the name due to its reputation in Delray. Rutman tells me, “It’s run as a family. It’s been that way for 100 years.”

Upon entering, one of the first things that caught my eye was the collection of cookie jars that line the wall near the counter. The collection comes from Rutman’s aunt and uncle who decided to sell them upon moving. Aside from those, the store sells everything from aluminum walkers to beach towels. 

The pharmacy is the real gem of the place. Since the beginning, Huber’s has been known for its knowledgeable pharmacists and prescription delivery. The head pharmacist is Gregg Chatterton, who has been with Huber since 1995. 

Chatterton knows a lot of the families that have been going to Huber’s for generations and those who live and work around Atlantic Avenue. “The people that come in here aren’t treated like a number.” This applies to tourists and new customers as well. It’s not uncommon for those staying in local hotels to get their prescriptions delivered to them from Huber. Regulars or not, everyone is treated like family at Huber. 

321 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/276-6034

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