Openings and Closings

Tucker Duke's Lunchbox Expands to Boca and Competes in World Burger Championship

We could all use a little more burger and beer in our lives, especially up in Palm Beach County. Luckily, Tucker Duke's Lunchbox is coming to the rescue: South Florida restaurant partners Jay Oakes and John Cortes recently announced plans to bring chef-founder Brian Cartenuto's craft-burger eatery to Palm Beach County with a new location set to open early next year at 1658 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton.

The 3,200-square-foot space — formerly Italio — will be the second South Florida Tucker Duke's Lunchbox location following a west Deerfield Beach restaurant and the original Niceville, Florida, location opened by Cartenuto. Cortes says the team is shooting for an early February opening, a way to celebrate the grand opening of the new location along with the two-year anniversary of their Deerfield Beach restaurant. 

"We knew we wanted to expand closer to the Florida Atlantic University student body and felt Boca Raton was the best place to go," says Cortes. "Apart from the fast-casual burger chains out there, there's also not too many people doing the craft-burger bar in this part of Palm Beach County."

Cortes says the new location will follow the same Southern comfort food model (and offer the same laid-back ambiance) as the Deerfield restaurant, including a bar with up to 20 taps pouring locally sourced craft beer open for lunch and dinner. The menu will have the same signature items, including appetizers like the PB&J bon-bons and signature burgers like the Tucker Duke as well as sandwiches, salads, and blue plate specials.

However, expect each Tucker Duke's to have its own twist, adds Cortes, with a series of unique dishes, burgers, and rotating craft beer taps for both the Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton locations.

"We know the Niceville restaurant does a lot more with seafood, for example, because it's located in a marina," says Cortes. "So we are hoping to do the same thing and have our own takes on signature items for each of location — dishes that will only be available at each place."

The news of the Boca Raton store was announced just days before Tucker Duke's South Florida team — including Deerfield Beach kitchen manager Dominic Diodata, creator of several winning burger-battle burgers — will be participating in the burger portion of the World Food Championships, a three-day cooking competition representing restaurants and chefs from around the world, taking place November 3 through 10 in Kissimmee, Florida.

At the World Burger Championships, 50 of the world's best hamburgers (and their chefs) will be competing to see who makes the best burger in the world, for a grand prize of $10,000. According to Cartenuto — whose two-time wins at both the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk Burger Battle and Boca Raton Burger Battle earned him automatic entry into the global competition — the World Food Championships is much bigger than anything he's previously encountered.

"I've never been to a food competition like this — it's a totally different ball game," said Cartenuto. "Right now, we're still debating whether or not we'll use our signature Tucker Duke burger to compete or create something totally new, like we have for all the local competitions we've won. We're going up against a wide variety of burgers and chefs, so we want to be a mix of familiar, refined, and — of course — have that 'wow' factor Tucker Duke's Lunchbox is known for."

Tucker Duke's Lunchbox will be located at 1658 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Visit the Tucker Duke's Lunchbox Boca Raton Facebook page for updates.

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.