By Jacque Estes
For Hometown News
On Jan. 19, 2010, Vince Carter's restaurant opened on LPGA Boulevard. Co-owned by the NBA basketball star and his mother Michelle Carter-Scott, the restaurant is celebrating its fourth anniversary with a look back as to how it all came about and something special for the public.
"This was really Vince's idea, probably five years prior to four years ago, he wanted to open a restaurant and I said 'you've got to be kidding me with all I have to do you want to open a restaurant?'" Ms. Carter-Scott remembered.
The restaurant is part of the ballplayer's retirement plan, a date his mother said has not been decided.
"He'll play as long as he can and when he does retire, he'll have a plan in place. The restaurant is part of the plan," she said.
With no family history of restaurateurs to turn to for advice, Ms. Carter-Scott said she learned as the building took shape, relying on her design tastes and took inspiration from places she had visited. The front fountain in what she refers to as "Lake Carter" was inspired by the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
It was Ms. Carter-Scott who made sure the sports grill was different from other sports-themed restaurants and she started with the seating.
"I had no desire of sitting on a wooden bench watching sports," she said. "I'm a huge sports fan, but I also love comfort. Why can't I enjoy the football game or the basketball game in comfort with good food that's not greasy?"
From the outside, the restaurant doesn't look like the typical sports bar or even a typical restaurant and Ms. Carter-Scott made sure the inside is also unique. Vaulted ceilings and different dining rooms for every taste and event set it apart.
"In our minds, there's no other restaurant in our area like Vince Carter's. It's a hybrid sports grill, upscale as it might be," she said.
The dining room features booth and table seating with a floor to ceiling water wall.
"The main dining room and piano lounge décor screams Michelle. I designed it and I loved doing that," Ms. Carter-Scott said.
Additional outdoor seating features a beautiful view of the fountain in "Lake Carter" that shields diners from the nearby road.
"We figured we could buffer the noise from LPGA," Ms. Carter-Scott said. "You can sit on the patio and you don't hear the cars. You hear the sound of the water spray and you don't hear the traffic.
The Highlight Zone Sports Grill is the perfect spot to watch sports on large plasma screens and the spot Mr. Carter enjoys.
"Vince's favorite spot in the restaurant is in the Highlight Zone with all of the televisions," she said.
The Owner's Box -- a private dining room with it's own private entrance, limousine parking, reception area, a secluded terrace, audio/visual equipment and a two-story crystal chandelier was intended for fellow MBA player's use. An opaque nana wall separates the private room from the main dining area, providing what Ms. Carter-Scott describes as a "peek-a-boo" effect, allowing diners in the main room to realize the room is being used while affording privacy to those in the separate dining area.
"Quite a few of the NBA players spend time in Orlando, so when he was with the Magic if some of his buddies came over and wanted time to themselves, we had a VIP entrance where they could come in."
During the past four years, Ms. Carter-Scott has had one unexpected surprise -- a new family.
"I have acquired an extended family," she said. "We have a good number of people (staff) who have been there since the beginning or close to the beginning."
The hometown connection is very important to the Carters. When offers to open the restaurant in Orlando and Jacksonville were presented, the decision was to stay close to home.
"The whole concept was Daytona Beach is our home and we wanted to bring something to Daytona Beach," Ms. Carter-Scott said. "Halifax Medical Center is where he was born, he went to high school here and this is where our roots are."
While they don't know what the future will bring, there will be a one-day special on Jan. 21 to celebrate the fourth anniversary.
"For our anniversary, 80-percent of our menu will be 50-percent off," she said.
Although the anniversary special is a one-day event, regular lunch and dinner menu prices fit most any budget.
"We have worked hard to dispel the myth that we are expensive," she said.
Vince Carter's is at 2150 LPGA Blvd., Daytona Beach
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour is 3 to 7 p.m.
Call-ahead seating is available at (386) 274-0015.