Watermelon Used Year-Round Adds Zest to Spring Chicken

You'll find watermelon every season at Spring Chicken, the fast casual baby sister of successful South Beach and Vegas concept Yardbird. Created by the 50 Eggs Group and visionary restaurateur John Kunkel, it's no surprise that this restaurant has found quick success and already boasts a loyal brand following. In this episode of "Fast Casual Nation," brought to you by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, we sit down with the brains behind Spring Chicken and discover how the idea for this fast casual hatched up.

The space immediately invites guests in, if its whole wall painted with a sign that says "Welcome Friends" doesn't already spell it out for you. With its unique design — what Kunkel called the industrial version of your grandmother's kitchen — consumers already have something to feast on as soon as they step through the doors Its sleek wood structure mixed with green plants and windmill-esque fans bring the feeling of farm and fresh before the first bite.

While the brand is well-known for its chicken product, the team didn't expect their watermelons to be a fan favorite. While at Yardbird, the fruit wasn't so kid-friendly due to its cayenne and pepper spices, at Spring Chicken, the watermelon is flavored with tones of mint, lemon, and lime.

"We certainly didn't anticipate the popularity of the watermelon. So, funny story. Our first week...I walk in the back door and there was this giant mound of watermelon that was a little bit higher than my head, and I'm like, 'What is going on right now?' They said, 'This is the watermelon.' For when? For today!" Kunkel said.

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Spring Chicken's commitment to its dishes is quite admirable. It's pretty much housemade everything, from the sauce in their mac and cheese, to the produce they chop up, carve, and chunk every day, to the biscuits they bake from scratch. What results are delicious grilled or crispy chicken; colorful, rich, cobb salads with avocado, roasted bacon, and roasted pecans; barbecue sandwiches; veggie or gluten-free sandwiches; chicken and waffles, and more!

"Our culinary staff jokes that we've probably done everything the hard way for a fast casual restaurant," Kunkel said.

While this commitment may seem difficult in terms of scalability as the brand grows, and Kunkel admits there could be efficiencies they could improve on as they expand, he believes that it is possible to merge the fast-food-industry-solution-solving practice with the culinary lens and sensibility of elevated cuisine.

But back to the watermelon. Why does he think this ingredient has a synergy across Spring Chicken's menu?

"With watermelon, it is one of those beyond popular items that seems to complement the crispy, hot, little, spicy fried chicken that we have, and it's just one of those perfect things as we're in the middle of summer in South Florida. I'm sure it's not slowing down any time soon," Kunkel said.

Want to bite into this creative fast casual? Watch the full episode now!

Yardbird Restaurant Features Innovative Pickling Program

One of the more noteworthy Vegas restaurant openings was the arrival of Miami's Yardbird at the beginning of the year, and the restaurant is continuing to live up to the hype. Serving up a number of Southern-style, comfort food dishes, Chef Todd Harrington has recently been making headlines for his innovative pickling program that has the restaurant featuring over twenty different types of pickles.  

On the restaurant's menu includes a number of unique pickles such as pickled okra, jalapeno, watermelon, turnips and even oysters. In addition, Chef Harrington has been playing with different methods of pickling, including soaking hard boiled eggs in beet juice and the house specialty: cucumbers soaked in Kool-Aid. Read More

Bourbon Tasting at Yardbird

In this episode of Across the Bar, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, we are at Miami's Yardbird. Lead mixologist, Robert Ortenzio prepares a tasting of different bourbons of all different colors. Learn more about this inviting yet complex liquor and the best ingredients for a bourbon cocktail. Watch the full episode to see how the cocktail known as the Pork Chop is uniquely flavored with bourbon, cider, citrus juice and Dijon mustard.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar: The Experience

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar: The Experience

We’ve taken a special seat at the table of one of our Foodable Top 25 Restaurants in Miami to take a further look at what makes them so buzzed about on social. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a 50 Eggs concept, opened in October 2011 and has been leading the way in restaurant innovation ever since. We picked this particular restaurant to feature, as it has just marked an important milestone in its history – Yardbird will open its second restaurant at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. 

This opening wouldn’t have been possible without its major success in Miami, so we took an insider’s look into the unique Yardbird experience.

Read More

Art Deco Meets Southern Comfort

It's a 50 Eggs world and we're just eating in it. So seems to be the case for Miami, an emerging food city with a variety of new restaurant concepts and hot chefs. 

In this episode of Table 42, we explore the much hyped Yardbird Southern Kitchen and Bar. It's one of restaurant-slash-brand development group 50 Eggs' three concepts in the magic city. Owner John Kunkel takes us around the front of house to talk challenges, design, and Yardbird's famous Bourbon bar.

Chef Clayton Miller takes us into the kitchen to reveal some of Yardbird's most popular dishes, including good ole fashioned chicken & waffles. We also learn that the establishment goes through about 400-500 lbs of chicken four times a week!