In the heart of Miami, restaurateur John Kunkel, founder of 50 Eggs, Inc., focuses his unwavering passion for food and cooking a wide variety of cuisines into a diverse group of successful culinary concepts. In just under two decades, Kunkel has built 50 Eggs into an award winning restaurant group, demonstrating his talents with brand ideation, menu development and operational excellence for a broad range of hospitality concepts.
His current collection of restaurants includes two locations of the award-winning Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Swine Southern Table and Bar, and Spring Chicken.
A true American success story: In April 2012, Kunkel sold Lime Fresh Mexican Grill fast-casual concept consisting of more than 10 South Florida locations he developed over eight years to the Ruby Tuesday restaurant group for $24 million. Adding to the legacy, in July 2014 he announced the expansion of the home- grown and widely acclaimed Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, to an 8,000 square foot space which opened in Las Vegas in January 2015 on iconic restaurant row at The Venetian(R) Las Vegas.
Kunkel has always had a passion for cooking, fueled by his Southern roots, where food assumed a central role. After working in the restaurant business for more than a decade, in 2001, Kunkel went out on his own to open his first restaurant, Taste Bakery Cafe?, on South Beach. Committed to delivering high quality food consciously sourced in the fast casual space, Kunkel was relentlessly up before dawn baking, prepping and creating menus from scratch in order to perfect the product. In 2004, he sold Taste Bakery to concentrate on expanding his newest brand, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. Lime South Beach was an instant hit, frequented by celebrities, locals and tourists alike. Kunkel rapidly went from developing the concept from behind the line of a single store to expanding to more than 10 locations, then successfully selling to Ruby Tuesday in 2012.
In 2011, during the height of Lime’s success, with lines outside the door, Kunkel once again jumped into the kitchen, spending hours perfecting family recipes for Southern favorites before he opened Yardbird Southern Table and Bar. Offering Kunkel’s take on refined Southern food, it was named a James Beard Semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant South,” was lauded in the New York Times and recognized as one of Bon Appe?tit’s “50 Best New Restaurants.”
Rightfully so: Yardbird’s soulful Southern cuisine offers down home delights such as Kunkel’s grandmother’s now-famed recipe for 27-hour brined and crispy fried chicken served with heavenly waffles.
In 2013, Kunkel’s 50 Eggs opened another successful concept, this time in Coral Gables, Swine Southern Table and Bar, a “snout to tail,” sister restaurant to Yardbird, which also gained recognition as one of the best new restaurants of the year.
New for Kunkel and 50 Eggs is Spring Chicken, a fast-casual fried chicken restaurant inspired by favorites from his Yardbird menu. Spring Chicken is now open in Coral Gables, FL, and Fort Lauderdale, FL with additional locations to follow in Florida.
Kunkel and team have also recently announced the international expansion of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, launching at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore in 2017.
Kunkel currently resides in Miami Beach with his wife and their three children. He and his restaurant group, cited by Restaurant Hospitality magazine as one of “the coolest multi- concept companies in the land,” have been featured in nearly every conceivable national print and broadcast media outlet that follows culinary and travel trends.