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East County Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 2 months ago

EYE ON BUSINESS: Atypical start to Lakewood Ranch delivery restaurant

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Partnership of Atypical Kitchen and Naughty Monk Brewery emerges from challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Atypical Kitchen owner Zach Zeller received an unexpected visitor June 26, the day before he planned to open his take-out only barbecue restaurant.

It was Joe Eibler, co-owner of Naughty Monk Brewery, which is four doors down from Atypical Kitchen on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. That day, Florida ordered all businesses that generate more than 50% of their revenue through alcohol sales to close. On July 1, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation revised the order by issuing amended emergency order 2020-09, which allowed licensed alcohol vendors to continue operations if they also had a food service license.

Eibler needed to find a way to legally stay open and keep his business afloat. He approached Zeller with a request — deliver food from Atypical Kitchen to Naughty Monk. Atypical Kitchen started cooking food for Naughty Monk that same night and the partnership was born.

Although Atypical Kitchen is based on a delivery- and carryout-only concept, customers who want to try the food with a dine-in experience can do so at Naughty Monk now and into the future. The partnership is planned to be permanent.

Zeller, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, decided to start a restaurant before COVID-19. Once the pandemic hit, he knew it wasn’t the right time to start a dine-in business. Like many people, he and his family started ordering delivery a lot. It gave him an idea.

“What everybody was doing was taking their normal menu, putting it into styrofoam and plastic boxes, serving it to you or having it delivered through Uber Eats and DoorDash,” Zeller said. “And it would get to you and the quality was awful. It was cold, it was soggy. So I saw the opportunity to provide high-quality, fresh food delivered to your door and now for carryout.”

At the moment, Atypical Kitchen serves the same menu at Naughty Monk that it does for its own customers. This will change soon. Zeller estimated that Atypical Kitchen will be serving a new menu suited specifically for Naughty Monk in four to six weeks.

Zeller also wants to change the method in which he serves food at Naughty Monk. Currently, he does so the same way he would for his delivery and carryout customers, in a box, with each item wrapped separately. This prevents, for example, a burger delivered with soggy buns because juice from the tomatoes soaked through. However, the presentation is less attractive for dine-in service.

Another hurdle to serving food at Naughty Monk is transportation. Food is prepared at Atypical Kitchen, meaning staff members have to run it four doors down to the waiters at Naughty Monk. It gets interesting in rainy weather.

“We end up putting stuff in our bags and carrying them over,” Zeller said. “Our poor runners have to use umbrellas or put on rain jackets and things like that. And I think as we continue to evolve, maybe there's some kind of car we use that goes over there, make things easier.”

The other catch at Atypical Kitchen is its rotating concept. For now, it’s a barbecue restaurant. That will change in the future. Zeller wouldn’t divulge what new concepts he has in mind.

“The whole thing about being Atypical is that we can constantly evolve,” Zeller said. “I think we're starting to turn that corner a little bit and people are starting to realize that Atypical is not your typical place.”

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

See All Articles by Brendan

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