Jungle Bird Tiki takes flight in Cape Coral, if only temporarily. Food trucks roll into a Fort Myers venue, plus more restaurant news in A La Carte.
When Redfish Point in south Cape Coral decided it would close temporarily in mid-July, Jeremy Vincent saw his opportunity.
Vincent, a former manager with the Fathoms and Gather restaurants, also in Cape Coral, had been consulting at Redfish. He’d become good friends with executive chef Nick Hartmann. He had a vision for an old-school tiki bar with flaming, hand-crafted cocktails and Pacific Rim-inspired small plates. And, with Redfish empty for a few months, he had the perfect space for it — at least for a little while.
“I approached the owner to see if the chef and I could try out our concept when the place was shut down, do a pop-up kind of thing,” Vincent said.
“We got some tiki heads, we hung some plants, we bought a bunch of rum, and in a little under three weeks, we opened Jungle Bird.”
And the concept is soaring.
About a month into its three-month stint, Jungle Bird Tiki has been routinely selling out its reservations.
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Jungle Bird Tiki offers a concise menu of hand-crafted tiki cocktails as well as small plates inspired by Pacific Rim cuisine. (Photo: Courtesy Jungle Bird Tiki)
What started as a two-man operation — Vincent in the front of house, Chef Hartmann running the kitchen — has become a full-blown enterprise with three servers, two bartenders and a four-person kitchen team turning out this concise menu of tapas-style plates.
While the tiki-inspired craft cocktails are Jungle Bird’s eye candy, its food is equally creative, equally fun and just as crafty. Vincent said he’s had this menu written out for some time; a sort of dream lineup of foods he loves to eat and rarely sees at local restaurants. Think Filipino-style lumpia, pork-belly ramen, bao buns and kimchi-stuffed pot stickers. The restaurant also offers vegan options.
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Jungle Bird’s plates are meant to be shared, with prices ranging from $6 for jerk fries to $22 for the tropical mahi. Most dishes are in the $10-$15 range.
Jungle Bird starts its guests with a bowl of nori-dusted popcorn. For dessert there’s pineapple rum cake. Or another of the bar’s dozen cocktails, such as the Banana Hammock, a variation on the daiquiri made with Puerto Rican rum, citrus and house-made, spice-infused banana syrup. For a more classic tiki drink, Jungle Bird offers Trader Vic’s-style mai tais and blended-rum zombies that are, “strong enough to put you in the grave,” as the menu puts it.
Jungle Bird Tiki is a pop-up concept that’s taken over the Redfish Point space in south Cape Coral through Nov. 1 (Photo: Courtesy Jungle Bird Tiki)
Vincent said he’s been blown away by the positive feedback his team has received. He’s hoping these three months won’t be Jungle Bird’s only ones. He’d love to find another pop-up space or, possibly, a permanent location.
“We wanted to create the kind of restaurant we thought was missing in this area,” Vincent said.
“We wanted to create a place where we’d want to go spend time. And this is it.”
Jungle Bird is open 4 p.m.-late Wednesdays to Saturdays through Nov. 1 at 1520 Lafayette St., Cape Coral; call 239-471-4111 or visit junglebirdtiki.com for more.
Alliance adds food truck nights
The Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers has launched a weekly Food Truck Grab-and-Go event Wednesday nights through Oct. 28. The event will feature a rotating lineup of food truck vendors with pre-ordering and quick pickup available from most.
Food-truck staff will be required to wear face masks or coverings. Customers are also encouraged to wear masks while waiting in line, and to stay at least 6 feet apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
The events take place 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. To see the schedule of food trucks, visit artinlee.org/foodtruck. Alliance for the Arts is at 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.
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Dave’s Cosmic Subs is among the food trucks taking part in Food Truck Nights at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers. (Photo: Special to The News-Press)
Teriyaki Madness comes to Ave Maria
Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual restaurant chain, opened Aug. 20 in Ave Maria.
Franchisee Phong Ho is used to the neighborhood. He opened the Tropical Smoothie in Town Center 12 years ago. He’s taken on his next challenge by opening Teriyaki Madness next door.
“It’s been overwhelming. I can’t even tell you all the positive feedback we’ve been getting,” Ho said. “I think we were pretty far up there for all-time sales in the first day and first week.”
There are almost 100 Teriyaki Madness locations in the country, with seven in Florida, including Ho’s store.
The menu includes bowls made with sauteed vegetables, a base of rice or noodles, and protein choices such as salmon teriyaki, chicken teriyaki, spicy tofu teriyaki, orange chicken and more. The restaurant also sells appetizers such as edamame, chicken egg rolls, pot stickers and crab rangoon.
Ho said his favorite part of Teryaki Madness is what he calls the “crunchy” fresh vegetables.
“What we offer is actually a very healthy product that happens to taste good.”
Teriyaki Madness is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday at 5072 Annunciation Circle No. 103, Ave Maria. Call 239-658-5938 or visit teriyakimadness.com for more.
Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual Asian-style chain, has opened in Ave Maria. (Photo: Teriyaki Madness on Facebook)
DeRomo’s welcomes culinary director
DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant in Bonita Springs has hired Chef LJ Cousson as culinary director. Cousson will oversee customer service and product supply, and will create seasonal highlighting Italian seafood dishes.
Cousson has worked for more than 20 years in restaurants up and down the East Coast of the U.S.
“Chef has a history of creating and building on menus that encompass true passions for food from across the globe. This indicates that he will not lose sight of what makes DeRomo’s such a popular destination for authentic Italian cuisine,” DeRomo’s director of operations Stephen Schmitt said in a news release.
“Instead, he’ll add new, exciting flavors to the meals that make Italian cuisine a favorite for so many people, particularly our resident and snowbird customers.”
DeRomo’s is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday at 26811 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239-325-3583 or visit deromos.com.
Naples Daily News staff writer Sarajane Sullivan contributed reporting. A La Carte is a compilation of news and notes from the Southwest Florida food scene. Send ideas to [email protected].
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