John Kunkel opened his latest restaurant, Swine Southern Table and Bar, a “snout to tail” porcine-focused concept in Coral Gables, a sister restaurant to the wildly successful Yardbird Southern Table & Bar on South Beach.
As CEO and founder of Miami-based 50 Eggs Inc., Kunkel’s knowledge stems from a 22-year career working in every facet of the restaurant industry. His restaurant roster includes Taste Bakery Cafe, his first foray into the restaurant field, which he sold after three years to open his second concept, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill.
During Lime's first week. sales soared and the restaurant acquired its signature “line out the door.” After years of continued growth and success, Kunkel opened Lime in ten different locations throughout South Florida and in 2010 signed a Master License Agreement with Ruby Tuesday, Inc. to expand his concept outside of Florida to more than 200 across the Southeast U.S.
Kunkel sold the Lime concept to Ruby Tuesday last year yet retained ownership of the original flagship location on Miami Beach.
In 2011, Kunkel opened Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, which quickly became a James Beard Semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant, South” and was recognized as one of Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants.”
With the debut of Khong River House in South Beach this past December, Kunkel, pays tribute to his extensive travels throughout Southeast Asia in his late twenties where he fell in love with the food of Northern Thailand.
Swine is located at 2415 Ponce de Leon Boulevard we enjoyed Southern Hospitality with which we were greeted the rustic, yet elegant decor, the, the hand crafted cocktails and the delicious dishes, generous portions and energetic atmosphere.
What’s next for Kunkel? Khong-fuzi, a fast casual concept which will celebrate the street food and markets of Southeast Asia followed by Test Kitchen- a creative hub and facility designed to welcome chefs from all different restaurants locally and nationally. It will be a space where chefs can freely work to bring forth and create new culinary ideas.
Kunkel took time out of whirlwind schedule to chat about his latest endeavor, Swine.
Why Swine Southern Table and Bar? Why now?
Swine was a result of the creative process we had for Yardbird. There were so many things we wanted to do _ inspired by Southern cooking _ that we could not do due to the limits of space. With giant smokers and wood fire grills, Swine will have its own personality and takes on Southern classics.
Tell me about Swine’s chef.
Everything we do for 50 eggs, we attack as a team. We have over 70 members of our culinary team and we all attack projects together to come up with recipes and menu items. Everyone has a voice during the process, so we can come up with the best possible dishes.
What made you decide to branch out into Coral Gables?
When thinking of doing a pork-centric concept, there was no better fit than the Gables.
What are some of your favorite menu items on the Swine Menu?
My favorites include all of the items out of the smoker, really. The ribs, brisket and pulled pork are some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m particularly excited about our large format dinners where we are offering whole hogs for groups of 6 or more.
Will the dishes change seasonally? If so, what do you see as the mainstays?
Like Yardbird and Khong, Swine relies on our local farmers and their seasonal items and will we adjust our menu to reflect what is fresh and available.
Pork is a staple in Cuban cooking. Are there any Cuban-influenced dishes?
While the menu is primarily influenced from the South, we do pay tribute to the Cuban community with our cocktail list.
Are there cocktails or desserts that are “musts”?
The Old Cuban and the Swine Old Fashioned are such great, inventive takes on classic favorites. And, there are few things better in life than our Warm Sticky-Icky Bun with sweet potato pie ice cream.
Is there anything else you’d like to add/share?
We are excited to be part of the restaurant Gables community and we look forward to opening more!