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."
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."
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
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, "
New Fast Casual Asian Concept
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
first midnight chef's table was held this past Friday, with weekly
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,
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."