Food News

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

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

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


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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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss