By Sue Reddy
Known as Mr. Coconut Grove, Monty Trainer, founder of the landmark Monty’s Seafood restaurant in the Grove, Monty’s Village Inn and other Monty’s restaurants in Boca Raton, Orlando, Atlanta and Key West, is a community pioneer. In addition to being president of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, now in its 54th year, he is on the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council, which provides funding for more than 800 community-based organizations throughout Miami-Dade County. He is also on the executive committees for the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (BID) and the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce. On Thursday, Jan. 12, Trainer will be honored as the VIP of the 47th annual Golden Coconut Awards, which celebrate businesses and individuals that make a positive difference in the Grove community.
What has it been like watching generations of diners enjoy the Monty’s experience? Everywhere I go, people have a story about Monty’s. It was one of the first outdoor dining places in the Grove—it started out as a little breakfast nook and gas station. It used to be called Monty’s Conch, but then I changed it to just Monty’s.
When did you become interested in the arts? In the early ’70s, I’d see people setting up for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and I’d talk to them. Little by little, I learned about art and gained an appreciation for it. I thought the festival was the best thing that happened to the Grove and was eventually asked to be on the board of directors. Then, I was elected chairman, and, finally, I took on the presidency full time.
How did you get the nickname “Mr. Coconut Grove”? I have always been involved in the Grove, and I became its champion. When I was chairman of the Miss Universe pageant, I made sure all the photo shoots were in the Grove. I was also one of the founding members of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. I was always pushing for the Grove.
What is your greatest accomplishment? Monty’s is definitely one of my greatest achievements. I’m also proud of my work with the University of Miami’s Golden Cane Society, the University of Florida Bull Gator Club, and raising money for Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic. I’m also proud of being chairman of the board of directors for the New World School of the Arts.
What do you see for the future of Coconut Grove? New development is going to take the Grove to a new level. There is going to be a resurgence in our waterfront community. After all, we are the sailboat capital of the world—that gives us a lot of clout.
South Florida Favorites
Lunch: Panorama Restaurant at the Sonesta Coconut Grove
Dinner: Farinelli 1937
Brunch: Peacock Garden Café’s jazz brunch
Happy Hour: Glass and Vine
Shopping: H&H Jewels and The Blonde Tulip
Art Gallery: Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery at the Mayfair Hotel and the gallery at the Sonesta Hotel, our new sister gallery
Place to unwind: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Charity close to your heart: Shake-A-Leg Miami is a nonprofit organization passionate about getting people of all ages and disabilities on the water. It’s amazing to see people in wheelchairs sailing! It’s the reason I didn’t put benches on my outdoor tables at Monty’s—after sailing, they can just pull up to a table. shakealegmiami.org