Union to Open December 30 in Delray's Caliente Kitchen Space

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

concrete wall.

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

Delray Beach (the site goes live next week)

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