Food News

John Paul Kline, Chef and Owner of 3rd and 3rd in Delray Beach, Has Died

UPDATE, January 20: An incident report from the Boca Raton Police Department indicates that Kline died at a Boca Raton apartment, not his home in Delray Beach as initially reported.  The report gives no other details about the cause of death. A request with the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office is pending. 

UPDATE: 3rd & 3rd's three-year anniversary party planned for 4:30 p.m to 2 a.m. February 18 will instead be a day of remembrance for John Paul Kline. In a statement from the restaurant's manager, Sabrina Milroy: "True to John Paul's style of party, I would like to ask of the people to keep coming back and hanging out with us to help us keep John Paul's dream alive."

Just like Delray Beach bar and restaurant 3rd and 3rd has no sign, there was no sign that the local community was about to lose one of its most beloved chefs this past weekend when its proprietor, John Paul Kline, died Friday night, January 15, at his home. The cause of death is undetermined at this time. 

Kline was a longtime chef, graduate of Johnson & Wales University, and owner of John Paul Custom Cuisine catering. He worked around the world, from Europe to Martha's Vineyard. In 2010, he was working as a freelance private chef in Delray Beach. He worked with kids at a charter school and organized popular winetastings at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. He explained in an interview at the time that he had gotten into cooking when he worked doing sales for a banquet company. The general manager quit, and he had to step into the role: 

I had an army of staff working alongside me in the front of house. Back in the kitchen, there was a whole other army of staff, and I wanted to know how to join these two armies together so that we became one complete force to be reckoned with. To do that properly, I had to get into the kitchen so that I understood them, and this inspired me to go to culinary school. It was totally utilitarian — I simply wanted to become a better general manager, but then I found out that what I really wanted was to become a great chef.  

Klein also kicked in a few articles for New Times circa 2010 — he wrote about Hani's Organics here — but more than any other title, most knew Kline as the jovial, welcoming owner of 3rd & 3rd, which he opened in February 2013. At the time, the New Jersey native told New Times he had decided not to put up a sign up for his establishment, which was named for its location at the corner of NE Third Street and Third Avenue.

"Think of it like an underground spot, a neighborhood hangout," Kline told New Times in 2013. "We don't need a sign. People will find us."

And people did find him; once you knew the location of the bright teal stucco building, it was hard to miss. But when it first opened several years ago, unless you heard about it through the grapevine — or were curious enough to venture beyond the boundaries of Pineapple Grove down the backstreets north of Atlantic Ave — you may never have known it existed.

Today, with 3rd and 3rd's three-year anniversary just around the corner, Kline's establishment stands as one of the area's most popular downtown haunts. It's a place that quickly attracted the local community for its collaborative and supportive environment.

As news of his death spread over the weekend, friends, acquaintances, and restaurant regulars flocked to Kline's Facebook page to share their condolences and their memories.

"When I cook for people or when I put together an event for people, it's so gratifying to see people's expressions and faces and their enjoyment," Kline has said. "I'm so appreciative of everyone that comes here and enjoys themselves. That's what inspires me."

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New Times Staff