Noodling a noteworthy newcomer

Three vets of south Florida’s trend-conscious restaurant scene are edging onto new ground with something they see lacking in the local market.

Kapow! will be Boca Raton’s riff on big-city noodle bars like Chicago’s Urban Belly or New York’s Momofuku, says partner Vaughan Lazar, best known as the eco-conscious founder (and still CEO) of the Pizza Fusion fast-casual chain.

But unlike those foodie shrines, Kapow! will offer plates that start at just three or four bucks, according to Lazar.

He describes himself as the behind-the-scenes partner in the venture, which will be operated by Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich, his longtime friends. The duo runs 14 one-off restaurants, nightclubs and lounges, including such local hotspots as Kill Your Idol, Dada, Tryst and Respectable Street Café.

The three are outfitting Kapow! with a menu that extends to Asian finger foods like sticky buns and dumplings, with a grand opening targeted for no later than Oct. 1.

Among the other features that raise their confidence in the venture:

--An eco-friendliness in the building’s very DNA. The interior wood was reclaimed from barns, and the bar is made with boards produced from sorghum straw, a fast-growing, easily replaceable plant similar to sugarcane. “Basically it’s a weed,” says Lazar. One wall will be glass to let in natural lighting, and the kitchen is state-of-the-art efficient. The woks were specially engineered for water efficiency, and every light will be an LED.

--Local, mostly sustainable and often organic ingredients. The restaurant plans to grow its own herbs in a community garden the city is opening a block away. Other supplies will come from a nearby hydroponic farms and more-conventional growers in the area.

--Cocktails will be a signature. Instead of relying on sake and other Asian as-usuals, “we’ll have drinks like cucumber and basil-mulled cocktails—ones that are not only refreshing and delicious, but also give character to the concept,” says Lazar.

--A small footprint. The space, nestled next to an Irish restaurant run by Mayo and Frielich, measures just 1,700 square feet, with additional seating in an outside courtyard.

Kapow! was conceived as a one-of-a-kind, but Lazar acknowledge that the space is small, the menu is simple and relatively easy, and it abounds in other features that make it very duplicable.

Might it end up being a chain? “I’ve learned never to say never,” he says.





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