Union: An Asian Gastro Lounge will have its soft open a week from tomorrow, says owner/restaurateur Scott Kennedy.
He and partner Stephen Chin acquired the restaurant seven weeks ago, built out the former Caliente Kitchen space, and revamped the patio to open in record time for the restaurant biz.
The partners -- Kennedy from Canada and Chin from New York-- had been looking for two spaces for two different concepts when Caliente Kitchen's real estate became available. Union is their first restaurant venture in Florida.
The patio and a diminutive kitchen shaped a decision to launch the
Asian concept first. "This space fell into our lap," said Kennedy.
"Caliente Kitchen had been having trouble. Someone called us about the
space and we bought it that afternoon." The second concept is under wraps until later in the season.
The emphasis on Asia stems from both partners having lived and
traveled extensively in Asia. Kennedy lived in Tokyo and Chin has lived
in China; he's first-generation Chinese. "We wanted to create a
restaurant with dishes we both love," he said, "with items that aren't
so Americanized, yet are accessible."
Former chef and owner at Dolce Amore Cafe in Delray Beach, Rich Achaia is tapped
to helm the kitchen, which will plate dishes such as Kung Pao lamb chops
or garlic blue crab with noodles. The menu will also feature Asian
sliders with shrimp tempura and pork belly, as well as Korean barbecue
selections. "And lots of Asian condiments," said Kennedy. Each meal will
start with a bowl of shrimp chips, "the only thing not made in house,"
said Kennedy. (We're guessing they're not making an array of Asian-style
noodles in house, either.) Dishes list between $5 and $15 per menu item.
"There is going to be some molecular gastronomy involved," says Achaia, who had been helping chef Norman Van Aken open The Miami Culinary Institute when he took the call from Kennedy and Chin. "Delray needs something like this. We're going to bring a lot of fun and flair to the food, with an emphasis on presentation," he said. "There are only so many places you can go for your pasta and your comfort food."
The chef and partners will feature creative cocktails, many of which incorporate house-infused vodka with natural ingredients. Examples include a PB and J drink with a crushed peanut rim and grape infused
vodka. Another is S'mores-inspired cocktail made with chocolate infused vodka
and a crushed graham cracker rim: Sweet sips.
The space will feature a 16-foot flat screen "the largest panel TV in
Palm Beach County" along one wall for watching games, displaying music
videos, art, and scene scapes like an aquarium. The restaurateurs white
washed a wood wall and hired an artist to create a mural on an adjacent
The soft opening is December 30th and the restaurant will be serving cocktails New Years Eve. January 3, the restaurant will be open for regular business hours from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
"Some people open restaurants with
an aspiration to win a James Beard award. And while we will feature
excellent food," said Kennedy. "Our priority is for people
to have fun."
Union: An Asian Gastropub
8 East Atlantic Avenue
uniondelray.com (the site goes live next week)