Norbert Goldner, a chef and restaurateur who owned one of Sarasota’s most legendary restaurants, Cafe L’Europe, died on Jan. 14, 2018. He was 77.
Mr. Goldner was born in Berlin and managed the New York City restaurant The Sign of the Dove before opening the first Cafe L’Europe in Sarasota in 1972. In 1980, Cafe L’Europe opened in Palm Beach, where, in the weeks that followed, it was so popular that there often was a line out the door before dinner hours. Waiters wore black tie and the restaurant was known for, among other things, its Champagne and caviar bar.
“It’s a landmark,” Hammond said. “It’s the quintessential Palm Beach restaurant.”
Customers remember Mr. Goldner for his warm personality, his love of walking around the restaurant and talking to customers, and “his wit, his charm and his cuisine, in no particular order,” said Dale McNulty, board president of the Palm Beach Symphony.
“If someone asked me how I would rate the restaurants in Palm Beach,” McNulty said, “he has always been at the top of my list. Period.”
Mr. Goldner was obsessed with details, according to Susan Yelvington, a frequent customer who knew Mr. Goldner for more than 10 years. He enjoyed planning dinner parties for guests and designing specific menus to cater to their needs, always making sure the flowers on the tables were fresh.
“He would always ask if the music would set the right mood,” Yelvington said. “I just loved that he cared about what his customers thought.”
Her husband, Gary, still remembers talking with Mr. Goldner, who told him that Cafe L’Europe was his “masterpiece,” and that he had visions his entire life of owning a restaurant like Cafe L’Europe in Palm Beach.
Mr. Goldner also told the couple stories about celebrities dining at Cafe L’Europe, but “no matter who his customers were,” Yelvington said, “he always treated everyone like they were famous.”
Yelvington’s husband loved the way Mr. Goldner prepared the wiener schnitzel, and her in-laws always liked ordering the liver and onions.
Frequent customers Bill and Jeanne Adeimy sat in the same corner of the restaurant each time, where Bill always ordered the soup, Jeanne ordered the lobster salad and they shared an order of caviar.
“It was not a tapas bar, and it didn’t pretend to be a spaghetti joint,” McNulty said. “But when it did spaghetti bolognese, it was terrific.”
Goldner is survived by his wife, Lidia. At his request, no services will be held.
This article first appeared in palmbeachdailynews.com