It’s nothing official, but Carol Moran may hold some sort of record for the most businesses in Wilton Manors.
Starting in 1998 and over the following 18 years, Moran owned Kicks Sports Bar, New Moon nightclub, Thirteen Even and Thirteen Restaurant and Bar (more on the obsession with 13 later on).
And now she and her wife Nancy Goldwin are back in SoFlo after three years in Manhattan and have opened Apt 9F, which they describe as a drinking den/social eatery. The name comes from their Washington Heights apartment overlooking the Hudson River.
“It looks like an apartment,” Moran says, describing Apt 9F, in the heart of their old stomping grounds, Wilton Manors. “It’s literally our apartment from New York City.
“I want it to be like, here is my house party. Before you go out for a big night, stop by my apartment first or before you go home stop by for a little cocktail nightcap.”
Both women say the vibe was important to them. “We wanted people to feel at home — without screaming over everybody,” Goldwin says. "A few really good things to eat and the music is not blaring at you. That’s the kind of environment that we feel comfortable in. We like those places that feel cozy and have personal touches. [Apt 9F] is really like an apartment, if you have a really large bar.”
So, what’s Apt 9F like?
Apt9F opened last month in the space where Naked Grape Wine Bar and Tapas used to be.
Moran says Apt 9F currently has nine specialty cocktails, 70 liquors, 20 wines and 20 beers.
“And you know I’m a wine snob, so our wines are great," Moran says. “You know the town is doing dollar drinks [and] that makes no sense to me. I can’t afford to do that. We will do a happy hour, but I can’t do dollar well drinks. I’m not big enough."
A coffee machine is on the way. Like the craft cocktail menu, the small plate menu is still being developed, having started with a charcuterie dish.
“Both of us like to eat that way,” Goldwin says. “We like to sample a lot of things. Neither one of us like to eat a humongous meal. We will probably stay with smaller plates. We don’t see ourselves being a full-plate or massive sit-down place with steak and those kinds of things.”
She also says they are trying new dishes at home first, testing them out on friends. “Our friends are our guinea pigs sort of. A lot of our recipes evolve from us experimenting at home," Goldwin adds.
The front area has couches with small coffee tables as well as an intimate area at the window with a table for two. In the back dining area is a six-top table, modeled after a dining room in an apartment, that is placed beside the open kitchen.
The color scheme is a golden marigold and a deep blue. The walls are covered with a jumble of art and photographs (Moran and Goldwin say they are huge art supporters) from both close friends, local artists and some work by Goldwin herself.
The bar seats 12 people while the outside patio/bistro area in front could seat another 22 people. The entire space can handle a maximum of 46 people, but 30-35 is probably a more comfortable number, the women say.
How the move back to SoFlo came about
Three years ago the couple moved to New York City, where Moran became a food and beverage executive for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Goldwin, who is a photographer, took her “dream job” as a marketing manager for Manfrotto photography equipment.
While there, Moran also was a manager and ran the wine program for Pisticci restaurant. But both women eventually became homesick for South Florida and realized that they were happiest when they owned their own businesses.
“I realized I miss my home, my community,” says Moran, a South Florida native. “This is my home. Sometimes you have to step away to know what you are missing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s cathartic, you know? Life is too short to for something you don’t love.”
So in a three-week period earlier this summer, the couple sold the Fort Lauderdale house they had been renting out while living in NYC, bought a condominium on Bayview Drive, packed up their Manhattan apartment and moved back to Broward County. Less than a month later, they opened Apt. 9F.
“It was the best unplanned planned thing ever,” says Goldwin, who adds that they did look at some locations in Manhattan, but " ... both of our parents are gone. Our chosen family is here. We have a life here. All of the obstacles kind of cleared."
One of those obstacles was clearing the 48-hour hurdle.
“We have a 48-hour rule," Goldwin explains. "It’s our little inside joke: If we feel the same way 48 hours later, we might pursue it or look at it more deeply.”
She adds, “Everything was right [about Apt 9F]. The rent was right. The spot was right. The build-out was right.”
What’s the deal with the number 13?
For Goldwin and Moran, 13 has been a lucky number.
“We actually met through a mutual acquaintance ... and it was on a Friday the 13th,” recalls Goldwin, who was born and raised in western New York, but moved here with her family in 1979. “We bought our house on the 13th.”
And they signed a lease for their first jointly owned restaurant, 13 Even, on the 13th. That restaurant, which focused on tapas and craft beers, opened in 2013.
So it was a no-brainer what to call the larger, full-kitchen restaurant they opened two years later: Thirteen Restaurant and Bar.
Though they were not fully up-and-running, Apt 9F opened on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
If you go info
Apt 9F is located at 2163 Wilton Drive, in Wilton Manors. For more information, call 954-880-1191 or go to Facebook.com/apt9f or apt9f.com. Apt 9F is open Mondays-Sundays from 4 p.m. to midnight.