John Kunkel of 50 Eggs Restaurant Group on Swine, Lime, and New Concept

johnkunkellimefresh.jpg
John Kunkel gives us the lowdown on his restaurant empire.
When John Kunkel started a small burrito joint in South Beach in 2004, he didn't think it would turn into a $24 million buyout by Tennessee-based Ruby Tuesday, Inc. or that he would strike gold in a southern restaurant concept in South Beach. But Kunkel and his 50 Eggs Restaurant Group have a knack for finding successful culinary trends and riding the waves.

With Yardbird Southern Table & Bar not quite one-year old, Kunkel is planning the opening of its sister restaurant, Swine Southern Table & Bar. We spoke to Kunkel about Swine, Lime, Yardbird, and his future plans.

Swine Southern Table & Bar
Kunkel told Short Order that he was initially shopping for a space in Coral Gables for another Lime location, but when he found the former Les Halles space, he knew he had to have it -- for a different restaurant.

"We rode by that space and I went back and started brainstorming with my creative team," Kunkel said. "I didn't want to do another Yardbird, but it evolved."

Kunkel enlisted his team of in-house designers and worked on the Swine concept. The decor will feature reclaimed Chicago brick and a giant smoker with various woods stocked out back.

"We're taking cues from various classic smoke houses, but Swine will have its own personality."

Kunkel is also reaching out to other restaurateurs known for their way with meats for a series of co-hosted pop-up events at Swine. He's currently speaking to Tim Love from Smoke in Texas and Danny Meyer at Blue Smoke with good feedback.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
Kunkel said that selling Lime to Ruby Tuesday, Inc. was a natural fit since the restaurant chain already owned several Lime franchises. "They didn't want to change what had made us known. They wanted to continue on with the original concept."

Kunkel has retained ownership of the flagship Lime restaurant on Alton Road in South Beach, which has become a "test kitchen" of sorts for the chain. Expect to find new burritos and flavors from time to time at that location. "We did some slow cooked tacos and had a little bit of fun with it. I love that little store, " Kunkel said.

New Fast Casual Asian Concept
Kunkel also announced plans to open a chain of Asian fast-casual restaurants, with the first unit to roll out in Miami. "Think of a cross somewhere between Lime and Yardbird. Fast casual, but more chef driven. The restaurant will feature fresh food prepared on site. We did a big tasting at Yardbird, playing around with some ideas."

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Yardbird's first midnight chef's table was held this past Friday, with weekly dinners planned.

Kenny Gilbert and Jeff McInnis hosted the first event, a roster of guest chefs co-hosting future dates including Dean Max (3030 Ocean), Paula DaDilva (1500 Degrees), Jeremy Ford (3030 Ocean), Timon Balloo (Sugarcane), and Howie "The Bulldog" Kleinberg (Bulldog Barbeque). Each event is limited to ten guests, who will have the opportunity to share a family-style midnight meal and mingle with chefs, mixologists, and restaurateurs.

The cost is $40 and includes a hand-crafted cocktail or glass of wine. Kunkel said the midnight series came from the fact that "the Miami food scene is really exciting right now. Chefs love what they do and Yardbird is a good place for them to meet up and mingle every Friday night."

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Location Info

Swine Southern Table & Bar

2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Restaurant

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

1439 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant


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4 comments
wokstar
wokstar

Good to hear John Kunkel is opening an Asian concept, about time. 

Peter
Peter

Hope it doesn't suck like all his other restaurants 

actionmoviefreak
actionmoviefreak

AT LAST!!!!  VERY HAPPY to hear southern food coming to the Gables. 

Helen Gynell
Helen Gynell

Difficult to type because of the intense HAPPY WIGGLE!  And not just because I am within walking distance from work . . . Hoping for sweet tea, fried chicken, and (non-creamy) traditional mac 'n' cheese . . . and soft opening tickets . . . ( I can dream! )

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