A cabinet maker, Salomon Myara would leave his three-room Paris apartment early each morning and would not return until late in the evening when he would sit down for dinner with his wife, Michelle, and their four children.
By the time dinner was finished, it was time for the kids to go to bed.
Although he was not around for much of his children’s formative years, he was antithetical to the notion of an absentee father.
He worked relentlessly so his family could thrive.
At times, the reality was hard to understand for Albert Myara, who lived his first 15 years in Paris before his family moved to Michigan, the home of his mother’s sister. When he matured as a teenager and adopted his father’s work ethic, he began to understand.
“I played soccer, but he never saw me play,” Myara says of his father. “But I realized the reason he worked hard was so we could eat. Mom was affectionate, Dad was tough.”
His father continued his work-first mentality in the United States in the 1970s as he went into the antique business. Salomon and Michelle eventually expanded to three stores — Myara’s Antiques — and they often enlisted their family members to keep the business running.
“I worked my butt off,” says Myara, who early in October was standing in front of a building under construction on Upper Manatee River Road that will become his second Ed’s Tavern. The opening is expected to be in December.
As Lakewood Ranch has grown over the last two decades, Myara has had his fingerprints on many business deals, both in real estate and restaurants. Currently, besides the two Ed’s Taverns, he is part owner of McGrath’s Irish Ale House at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch and two other restaurants in Nokomis and Venice.
He has built a reputation as a talented businessman, and he gives credit to his father for that designation.
“My father left me the will to work,” he says.
Those who know him, have worked with him, or have called him “Dad,” echo the sentiment that Albert Myara works like nobody’s business. But he also made a promise to himself early in life.
“When I got (out of school), I started playing tennis,” Myara says. “My father played tennis, too, but I never had time for him. It was like ‘Cat’s in the Cradle.”’
“Cat’s in the Cradle” is a 1974 song by Harry Chapin that become a popular hit. It tells the story of a father who worked all the time and didn’t have time for his son, who eventually became just like him. They passed through life like strangers.
“By far, I am a father, and a grandfather, first,” Myara says. “If my kids (sons Adam and Austin) move to Alaska, I’m moving to Alaska. I’m a softie. I promised myself I would always keep my family close.”
Those around him say he has kept that promise.
“His greatest quality, bar none, is that he is such a diehard family man,” says Bob Bender, who is Myara’s partner in the original Ed’s Tavern and will be a partner with him in the new Ed’s Tavern venture along with Myara’s son, Adam. “His family is his world, and he will do anything to encourage them and to help and to guide them.”
Adam Myara, now 37, agrees with the assessment.
“The people who know him know he puts his family first above everything,” says Adam, who lives a few doors down from his father in River Club. “Growing up with him, he worked a lot, but I was always with him, working in restaurants.
“I enjoyed it,” he says. “It’s funny now, circling back, but I remember doing deals at school. (Sports trading) cards were popular in the mid-1990s and I always was trying to sell them to my friends. Like that, working in the restaurant was a way to make money. Sure, I missed out on some games, and people might have thought it was terrible for me to be a dishwasher, but I actually had a lot of fun.”
So, what else did Adam learn from his father?
“The gutters are littered with talented people,” says Adam. “They didn’t have the perseverance and the drive. My father likes the saying, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’”
After his parents moved from Michigan to Tampa in 1969, Albert Myara began attending the University of South Florida with the thought of becoming Dr. Myara. However, he loved playing soccer and working in restaurants, so something had to give. He didn’t finish at USF.
In the 1970s, he worked as a waiter, as a bellman and as a maître d’, soaking up knowledge on how to effectively run restaurants. He also earned a real estate license, appraising during the day and working in restaurants at night.
Eventually, Myara bought his first restaurant, the Old World Cheese Shop in Longboat Key in the mid-1980s. The restaurant failed, however, because he said development plans to make that area “The Avenue of the Flowers,” never materialized.
“You learn from your mistakes,” he says. “Anyone who doesn’t fail hasn’t done anything.”
In the mid-to-late-1980s, Myara worked with chain owner John Christen opening Shells Seafood restaurants. He bought two of the locations and not long afterward cashed out.
It was in the late 1990s when he went to work for John Swart, who was president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty. At that time, he bought a house in River Walk Meadows.
“I fell in love (with Lakewood Ranch),” he says. “The people here were nice people, including John Swart and (Schroeder-Manatee Ranch CEO and President) Rex Jensen.”
“Albert is a great guy and we worked well together,” says Swart, who sold 4 million square feet of office, retail, light industrial and hotel projects in Lakewood Ranch during his tenure at SMR. “He was very cooperative and a great listener. He was good at getting a deal done when it’s difficult. He finds a way.”
“He is a very bright guy,” says Swart, who is 82 and living in Mote Ranch. “Smart, committed, a hard worker. This is a complicated business. There are costs and budgets, and he is a good numbers guy.”
Myara went back into the restaurant business in 2008. He was trying to buy the Crow’s Nest restaurant in Venice in 2008 but ended up with Bogey’s Sports Pub in Venice instead. He still has that one.
Two years after he bought Bogey’s, he opened a second Bogey’s location in East County, in Creekwood Crossing. He had that restaurant, which is now The Parrot, for 10 years.
Next was the original Ed’s Tavern venture with Bender.
“It was 10 years ago in November,” Bender says. “He sat down and listened and asked me to tell him more about myself. I could tell he was someone who helps you to get where you want to go.
“He said there was a possibility of Ed’s Tavern and that I should go take a look. Somehow there was trust between us. You just kind of know sometimes. It is 10 years later, and we are still going strong. We’re both high energy, but we respect each other. We have had zero disagreements. And it’s funny because he was born in France and I was born in Texas, but we can almost finish each other’s sentences.”
“We hit it right off the bat,” Myara says. “We were both nice guys. And at the time, I had two restaurants. I wanted to buy Ed’s because I love (Lakewood Ranch). I really didn’t want to run it. He has done a great job, and he is a great operator. Bob has almost tripled the sales.”
Now they are starting another project together with a second Ed’s Tavern location. At a time when many people want to retire, Myara is going full speed ahead. He said it helps to have the support of his girlfriend of 10 years, Jackie Goudreau.
Moving forward, Myara continues to look for business deals in the area, and he will support his two sons any way he can. Austin, who is 27, doesn’t work as closely with his father as Adam, but he is involved in a trading card venture that will also include his brother.
Adam said his father makes them earn their way. He was going to law school (Stetson University in Tampa) but dropped out when he decided he didn’t want to be a lawyer. The first job he landed afterward was as a breakfast server in a hotel restaurant. He had to prove himself before calling his dad. In less than a year, he was managing the front desk of the hotel and the restaurant.
He kept working on his own until his father brought him to work at Ed’s Tavern so he could learn from Bender.
In 2015, the father and both sons opened Mojos Paladar, a Cuban restaurant, in Lakewood Ranch. It only lasted a couple years.
“My wife, Yvette, is half Colombian and half Cuban,” Adam says. “So, Mojos was a labor of love. But it was a small size and high rent. It took a lot of effort because many of the dishes took six hours to make. You have to sell a lot of $8 orders to make it work.”
“That was the best restaurant I’ve ever owned,” Albert Myara says. “It was the best food.”
Even if Mojos didn’t work out, Myara continues to tell his boys that many successful times are ahead.
“I tell the kids that in today’s world if you do what you are expected to do, you will be a star. If you do 10% more, you will be a superstar. Just remember, you want to go into a business that you can’t wait to do each day. Choose your happiness, and the money will follow.”
Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.