First Look

By Jaime: New Restaurant Opens in Oakland Park's Fledgling Culinary District

Last week, the city of Oakland Park held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Funky Buddha Brewery, which is so serve as the northern anchor of a proposed culinary district. The city is currently in talks with two culinary schools to serve as the southern anchor to the district. With the space between, the city is looking to install multiple restaurants and storefronts in hopes of creating a downtown walking district.

While they are still looking for a number of tenants, one restaurant has recently come in and set up shop: By Jaime.

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Since opening on October 9, business has gradually been picking up, says chef/owner Jaime Garcia. The restaurant, which was most recently an ice cream shop, is now open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner. To let customers know he is now ready and open for business, Garcia has started grilling outside during lunch. "I like to tempt people to come over with the smell of the onions," he says and laughs. 

The menu, which started with 47 items, has been scaled back to 13. It is comprised of simple homemade fare with some fusion items, like chicken linguine with chipotle-cilantro pesto ($12) or penne "mac'n cheese" with bacon and jalapeno ($11). For lunch, Garcia likes to focus on grilling with dishes like hot italian sausage with peppers and onions ($8), bratwurst in beer with sauerkraut and spicy mustard ($8), or the brewhouse burger served with chipotle mayo and caramelized onions ($9). The food is straightforward, but Garcia takes the time to make sure his food is high-quality: the brats are wholesaled from Old Heidelberg (he used to work there) and the burgers are ground from brisket in-house. According to Garcia, "If I buy my meat already ground, I know I'm buying scrap-meat. That's not what I want."

Back in 2009, Garcia started a wholesale cheesecake company based out of Pompano. His plan was to work out of a food truck--he actually bought one and started building it out--when a friend showed him an article about the proposed culinary district in Oakland Park. "I lived in the area and could see it being revamped. So, I looked on the website and got in touch with Siegi Constantine, the director of Main Street Oakland Park. We talked about moving my kitchen space from Pompano. She told me about what the city was proposing for the culinary arts district and the grants. I was like 'I'm a culinary artist. It's a perfect fit.'"

Garcia's goal is to create a friendly neighborhood atmosphere for people to relax. With a beer and wine license and small bar, he wants a place for people to hang out. He admits that, at the moment, the decor needs some work. "Right now I'm focused on the food. I'm on a shoestring, but I love it. I'm starting to see the neighbors stop by and poke their heads in. That's really what I want."

Overall, he wants to see the downtown area grow. "This spot was seedy. The city has done a good job of cleaning it up. I've seen it happen in other places and I can see it happening here. I've jumped on board. I'm in. I would like to see more restaurants and bars. We all want to turn this area into a scene." 

Aside from running the restaurant and grilling on his weekend contract, Garcia is still wholesaling his specialty cheesecakes. Even with the crazy schedule, the guy is jovial as hell. We're wishing him well.

 Call By Jaime at 954-566-0465 or click here for the facebook page.

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