Coolinary Café’s logo piglet didn’t have to waddle far to quench his thirst. His new namesake bar was just down the plaza. Nearly five years after the café took north county by storm, owners Tim and Jenny Lipman gave their mascot its own watering hole: a bar they called The Parched Pig.
That was in January. The bar has been hopping just about every night since.
One night just after the debut, Tim Lipman beamed as he greeted guests, pouring global wine and local beer. Lipman is the chef turning out what is arguably the best food in all north county. Yet, there he was, away from his kitchens, relishing the buzz rising in his new bar.
But that doesn’t mean his nearby café was far from his thoughts. Lipman’s superpowers include an ability to be in two places at once. Or so it seems.
“Right now, there’s a 90-minute wait at Coolinary,” he said in a tone that suggested this was business as usual.
In fact, it is. Since the Lipmans don’t take reservations for parties smaller than six, there’s usually a line at primetime at the café. The new bar has been serving as a kind of lively waiting area for Coolinary Café. But that’s just a small part of its function. In truth, the Pig is a separate beast, separate in space and concept.
Lipman believes it’s important to stress this fact. He was never trying to create a Coolinary 2.0 or a mere spillover space. As with Coolinary, Lipman sought to create an experience.
“We wanted to cook the food we like to eat and create a space we’d like to visit,” Lipman said on a recent afternoon before the happy hour crowd would fill the bar. “Jen and I would drive around on a Sunday, looking to grab a drink. But we didn’t want to go to a sports bar with a million TVs, and we didn’t want a huge meal.”
They were looking for a drink and a Sunday-worthy snack, he says. He was looking for a place like The Parched Pig, which he defines as a “beverage-forward” place.
That vision came true when the Lipmans took over the former Vault 39 self-serve wine bar and transformed it into a space of blues-on-blues, wood touches, high-top tables and comfy lounge seating, adding alfresco tables to the side patio.
It’s a space that “feels right” to Lipman. That was one requirement: Just as with Coolinary Café a half-decade earlier, “it had to feel right.”
But there is more than that to the story of how Tim Lipman built and expanded a Palm Beach Gardens institution in less than five years. From the start, Lipman’s dream was larger than any one restaurant or bar.
“We wanted to create a food culture,” says the chef.
Before Coolinary Café took on larger-than-life dimensions on the local culinary scene, before it fried its first piece of chicken or griddled its first cheddar-jalapeño waffle or composed its first rabbit tostada, it was a random, narrow suite within a suburban plaza.
Only the logline on the sign out front of the yet-to-open space whispered something prophetic. “A Tim Lipman Restaurant,” it read.
It might seem a bold move from the establishment’s chef/owner, particularly when Coolinary Café would be his first restaurant. But Lipman, who had spent the previous decade as head chef at the neighboring Leftovers Café, saw it as a necessary move.
Since age 22, he had honed his chops in Jupiter chef Mike Moir’s family of restaurants, Food Shack and Leftovers, taking part in a collective kitchen that encourages creativity and produces dishes popping in bold, contrasting flavors.
As much as Lipman appreciated his kitchen time and friendship with Moir, he wanted to strike out on his own, architect his own dishes and follow the vision he and his wife shared. They dreamed of a small, simple place that served seasonally inspired dishes. Lipman, a Florida boy raised in Titusville, would pay homage to his state by seeking out ingredients from local and regional farms.
“We wanted to offer an elevated sense of food without being pretentious,” says Lipman.
He would go on to offer fresh sausages made daily in-house, dishes with complex chile sauces, unexpected flavor combos in a single salad bowl and comfort grub lavished with as much technique as soul.
But none of that meant he forgot what he had learned in Moir’s flavor-focused, democratic kitchen.
“Mike opened up my palate,” Lipman says, referring to Moir’s use of contrasting elements and judiciously used acidic flavors. “Acid opens up the palate. If you can hit the entire palate, you’re satisfied.”
Lipman also brought that same kind of team effort, that sense of “buying into a system,” from the Moir group. He says he has tried to lead by example, to show how deeply devoted he and his wife are in their restaurant and how no job is beneath them.
“We are personally invested. We have given 1000 percent of blood, sweat and tears,” says Lipman.
The payoff has been extraordinary, says the chef. He has employed the same kitchen team as he did from Day 1.
“To see my sous chefs grow up and to be able to be a part of their growth and their family is everything,” he says.
By “grow up” he means his chefs fully exert their creative influence in the kitchen.
“These guys do it all. They are such students of the game. They are so good as what they do,” says Lipman of sous chefs David Tower and Jimmy Zuccarelli.
They have worked so closely together, the chefs complete one another’s flavor stories. This is why Lipman says he can afford to divide his time between Coolinary and The Parched Pig. Even though The Pig has no formal kitchen – the menu is focused on fresh oysters, fancy toast and complex charcuterie plates – it has its own kitchen team.
In fact, those newly hired chefs are now working with Lipman on his next culinary project – building The Parched Pig’s own meat-curing system. Lipman says he hopes to debut house-made charcuterie as early as fall. Also in the works: house-aged beers.
With each new menu twist, Lipman hopes to sharpen each establishment’s individuality.
“As much synthesis as there may be between the two spaces, they have to have their own identities,” says Lipman.
The Parched Pig is a singular concept, just as Coolinary Café, he says.
For all his efforts to make that point, Lipman still gets the occasional question that makes him cringe. People ask him if he might franchise Coolinary Café one day.
“Franchise? Never going to happen. Never going to happen,” says Lipman. “It’s not a mold.”
Ditto for Parched Pig, he says.
Those looking for similarities between the two can probably stop at the sign out front. It reads: “The Parched Pig. A Tim Lipman Watering Hole.”