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Runway 84 now open: Owners dish in Q&A about the renovated Fort Lauderdale restaurant | VIDEO & PHOTOS

Sun Sentinel 1/24/2023 Rod Stafford Hagwood, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Exterior view of Runway 84, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS Exterior view of Runway 84, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale.

Now known simply as Runway 84, the storied Fort Lauderdale hotspot is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a major makeover to the tune of $4 million dollars.

Diners returning on Tuesday, Jan. 24, will see a reborn restaurant, the result of an 8-month renovation, inside and out.

Look for sumptuous “gangster booth” banquettes with sound systems embedded underneath, expanded patio service, a private dining room with audiovisual capabilities, a new circular mini lounge and bar, as well as a stage topped by a custom chandelier.

Runway 84 is at 330 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale. Visit runway-84.com or call 954-467-8484.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel sat down with the triumvirate behind the eatery formerly known as Anthony’s Runway 84 to talk about all the renovations to the venue and the updates to the menus.

Exterior view of Runway 84, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS Exterior view of Runway 84, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale.

Here are excerpts from a Q&A session with:

  • Anthony Bruno — the eatery’s original namesake and owner of Andy’s Live Fire Grill & Bar
  • Pat Marzano — former co-owner of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza (along with Bruno)
  • Marc Falsetto — with Handcrafted Hospitality restaurant group (Tacocraft, Pizza Craft, Henry’s Sandwich Station, etc.)

Q: How does “supper club chic” describe this $4 million makeover?

Marc Falsetto: Supper club chic is kind of a mashup between an old-school, New York-style Italian restaurant meets Las Vegas from the 1960s.

Q: Anthony, this was your eponymous restaurant for 40 years, so was there something you insisted could NOT change?

Bartender Frankie Oley prepares a cocktail at Fort Lauderdale's Runway 84 on Friday, Jan. 20. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS Bartender Frankie Oley prepares a cocktail at Fort Lauderdale's Runway 84 on Friday, Jan. 20.

Anthony Bruno: Keep the food pretty much the same for people who have loved it for 40 years — tweak it a little bit, but keep it much the same as everybody’s used to when everybody comes in. And then add the beautiful restaurant around it and great music, great atmosphere.

The redesigned dining room at Fort Lauderdale's Runway 84 is meant to evoke a modern Italian supper-club vibe. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS The redesigned dining room at Fort Lauderdale's Runway 84 is meant to evoke a modern Italian supper-club vibe.

Q: Is it true that you have a totally new bar?

Pat Marzano: Yes, absolutely. The bar is about the same amount of seating that we had before, but it’s much more glorious and beautiful, and [will have] specialty cocktails, things that were not on the menu before and some other great features. A great wine list, by the way, enormous wine list that we’re very proud of.

Falsetto: One thing about the bar: This is the centerpiece of the entire restaurant. But ... the bar sits now directly under the tower, the famous Anthony’s Runway tower. And when you’re sitting at the bar and you look up, we have this custom reflective ceiling that we imported from France, so when you look up it makes you feel that it’s 30, 40 feet in the air looking up, but the ceiling is only 10 feet tall.

Q: And you’ve got a piano with a gorgeous chandelier over it. Tell us about that.

Falsetto: We have a full stage. We have a house band, Lucian and the Tastemakers ... and they’ll be playing every night Tuesday through Sunday. And we have like a carousel of amazing artists coming in. We have a lot of local talent. We’re also bringing in talent in from Las Vegas, New York. Our first act, we have Mitch Franco coming in for opening week from Napa Valley, San Francisco. He is going to be playing with us every night this upcoming week. So we have a lot of exciting talent.

Server Christian Sanchez is seen preparing a Caesar salad at the renovated Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS Server Christian Sanchez is seen preparing a Caesar salad at the renovated Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale.

Falsetto: We have Sinatra Sundays. We have Giovanni and Friends on Saturday night. I know we have a rotating ‘60s Motown swing thing that’s going to happen on Thursdays and a DJ set after. So have a lot of exciting entertainment, and we’re gonna have entertainment every night. That’s one thing that all of us have a commitment to doing, a true entertainment venue that nobody else is doing, especially in Broward County — that true live music every night.

Q: And you’ve added a private dining room, right?

Bruno: It’s called the Marino Room for Dan Marino. He used to come in all the time and sit in that area and it was only one table. Now we made it a room and I think it can fit about 18 to 20 people.

Falsetto: We just found out there’s been a lot of demand for private dining. We have full audio video; we [can] do meetings. You can reserve the private dining room as a private party. We can do a custom-tailor menu for you, up to 20 guests. We have different packages that will be available as well.

Q: The patio service has been bumped up too, right?

Bruno: The city let us make it larger, and we’ve upgraded it so we could use it all year. There are what, about 45 seats on it. You can have parties out there, so it’s going to be a big part of the restaurant now.

Falsetto: I think the biggest part is now the patio is an extension of the dining room ... there’s no differentiations — the same decor, the same vibe. And there’s an open-air feel to the patio walking into the bar area now ... There’s been such a demand for outdoor seating, we thought it was really nice being in Florida that you can use the patio year-round.

Q: But you kept the “Wall of Fame.” For people who may not have ever been here before and don’t know what that is, can you describe it?

The “Wall of Fame,” chronicling the restaurant's storied history, remains at the renovated Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS The “Wall of Fame,” chronicling the restaurant's storied history, remains at the renovated Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale.

Bruno: Those are just pictures of people that have come in here over the last 40 years off and on. You know, actors, actresses, athletes. It’s important that we kept them all. There are some great local guys on that wall. Yeah, it’s all iconic stuff and they still come in, so I don’t want to insult them without their picture up.

Q: There are some other activations in the pipeline. What’s on the planning board?

Falsetto: Down the road we’re gonna be ... doing a thing called power lunch on Fridays, which we’re gonna bring back the executive business lunch like you have in Manhattan and Brickell in Miami. ... So we’re gonna do that, reservation only, come in on Fridays, probably in a couple months, maybe shortly after opening.

Q: How did this dream team come about?

Bruno: Pat and I were partners at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. And we sold that and then we got involved with Marc at Tacocraft. So we’ve been working together. We decided ... during the pandemic ... it was time for a little change [at Anthony’s Runway 84]. And we’ve worked well together, so we put our heads together and now we have this.

Falsetto: The demographics in Fort Lauderdale are constantly evolving and changing and ... Florida being one of the hottest states to move to, especially Broward County right now. The guest now is just looking for a full experience — not only the amazing food that Runway is known for — music, entertainment, and everyone’s looking for an all-in-one venue. I think the timing couldn’t be more perfect going into season, into 2023 with what we’re about to pull off.

From left, Pat Marzano, Anthony Bruno and Marc Falsetto are the partners in charge of Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale. © John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS From left, Pat Marzano, Anthony Bruno and Marc Falsetto are the partners in charge of Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale.

q: Tell us about the menu updates.

Bruno: It’s pretty much the same. We have a couple of great high-end steaks. We have a Prime Quarter House for Two, we’ve got four Prime Steaks. We have a tableside Caesar Salad. We have a couple other nice items that were not on the menu before.

Q: The addition of the steaks is significant, isn’t it?

Falsetto: We have a true, true USDA Prime Program. So we partnered with some farmers in Omaha and we’ve done a custom steak program tailored for Runway 84. ... All of our steaks are minimum 40 to 60 days wet-aged, and then we also have a dry-age program ... All of our steaks are coming from the same fabricator as Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn.

Q: I hear that the cocktails menu has also had significant additions.

Falsetto: To keep things in line with the theme we’ve really focused on ... the classics. We want to stick to the classics of that era, so Manhattans, the true Daiquiris, Whiskey Sours, Old Fashioned, Rusty Nail, which is Frank Sinatra’s favorite drink, so we did a lot of play on that. Cindy [Anderson], who has been behind the bar here for over 20-plus years as our bar manager, she has been known for Martinis. We double down on that, we create a whole Martini Bar section from that era. ... So we’re really going back to the ‘60s, ‘70s classics.

Marzano: Back to the future. Old is cool again.

Q: It must be tricky to try and evoke Rat Pack glam and “Goodfellas” glitz and still vibrate with today’s food and beverage zeitgeist. That’s got to be a tricky tightrope to walk. Or is it easy for you guys because you’ve done it so often?

Bruno: Nothing is easy in the restaurant business. Some people make it look easy.

Falsetto: Everybody’s got a certain way ... to fast-casual and try to automate things and the world’s moving with all this technology. Everybody’s forgotten about what hospitality is. And hospitality, at the end of the day, is great service and a family environment. Runway has always been known for that.

Marzano: Well, Runway has been for 40 years one of the finest Italian restaurants in Broward County, so adding the decor and the music, and the bar and all the other great features, you know, makes it really a one-of-a-kind, really magnificent showcase.

©2023 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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