Under new management: The Island Grille at Topaz Hotel has a new owner

Flagler Beach local Karen Dion said she plans to embrace the restaurant's unique character that locals love while implementing a new martini lounge and menu.

The Island Grille's new owner, Karen Dion, said she plans to change the name to "Rise at the Island Grille" to help bridge the gap of all the restaurant's recent changes. Photo by Sierra Williams
The Island Grille's new owner, Karen Dion, said she plans to change the name to "Rise at the Island Grille" to help bridge the gap of all the restaurant's recent changes. Photo by Sierra Williams
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Flagler Beach’s fine dining restaurant The Island Grille at the Topaz Motel in Flagler Beach has a new owner — the second in less than a year.

The restaurant, located at 1224 S. Ocean Shore Boulevard, has changed hands multiple times over the years, new owner and local resident Karen Dion said. She said she has spent 30 years dining at the many iterations of The Island Grille and now plans to embrace the restaurant’s character that locals love.

Dion said she remembers when the restaurant was called the Topaz, back in the mid-1990s.

“It was the first time I was ever introduced to fine dining,” she said. “And I fell instantly in love with it.”

Dion said the previous owners bought The Island Grille in November and changed the name to Rise at the Island. Dion was then hired on in the new year to help with the restaurant’s marketing.

She pitched the idea of adding a brunch menu, which she began to run in April. That’s when she heard the owners were looking to sell and asked Dion if she would be interested. After all the time she had committed to the restaurant over the years, she said it was a good fit for her.

Owner Karen Dion said she could not be successful without her staff. From left to right: Emily Pitcole, owner Karen Dion, Olivia Franco, Greg Prompovitch and Antionette Allen. Photo by Sierra Williams

The Island Grille is a unique, historic and eclectic spot, Dion said, which she plans to embrace under her ownership.

But that doesn’t mean Dion won’t be adding anything new to The Island Grille. First, to bridge the gap between all the name and ownership changes, she is going to change the name to “Rise at Island Grille.”

Down the line, Dion also plans to add a martini lounge at the back of the restaurant, to be named “Before and After.” One of the larger dining room spaces, she said, she plans to market for events like rehearsal dinners and other celebrations.

Dion also wants to reach out to hotel guests. Because The Island Grille has been a fine dining restaurant, she said, often the tourists who stay at the hotel don’t eat there.

To connect with them, Dion said she plans to put together a hotel-guest-only menu that will be available for takeout only.

The restaurant will be open from Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday to Saturday for dinner service. But if someone has a special event planned, she said, Dion is willing to work with the customer and open outside of those hours.

But none of this would be possible without the staff, Dion said, and especially the chefs. Chef Chris Maacks has worked at the restaurant for over 12 years, on and off since 2002. He and Dion said they will be working together to update to the dinner menu, too.

Maacks said he’s looking forward to putting his own twist on the food.

“I’ve never really had a chance to do that before,” he said. “Our menu right now is really not what it should be. We’re going to be changing the whole thing.”

Dion said she also could not do this without Chef Pina, who runs the brunch hours and helped created its menu.

“I couldn't do it without her and the staff and everybody,” Dion said.

This story was updated on May 29 at 9:42 a.m. 


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