What does a dollar get you these days? Lunch, at the Dockside Dollar Grille in Lake Park. A plate of rice and beans, or pasta primavera, or an herbed chicken thigh. Another buck will buy a salad or glass of chardonnay to go with it.
Clearly, the restaurateur is shooting for a budget-seeking crowd.
“It’s because of the economy,” said Elizabeth Turner, who with spouse and partner Randall Turner opened the lunch-buffet only eatery today. It shares seating with the already value-priced Dockside Grille that overlooks a small lake.
“There are lots of dollar stores out there that are doing very well,” she said. “Everyone wants a bargain, so we thought – why not a dollar menu?”
The Turners have worked on the plan for the unique menu about a year, with details such as portions and fluctuating food costs part of the puzzle.
“I think you can offer a reasonable menu and still make money,” Randall said in an interview six months ago. “You can barely get a fast-food burger for $1; and we’re going to serve restaurant food.
“We’ll have a few items that might cost a little more, but there will be enough items I think will fill out the menu and still offer value and variety. It’s a matter of portion control, and not going crazy with the menu. We’ll have a few items that rotate each day, but there will be the staples that are always available.”
A buffet line means fewer staffers are needed and it moves quickly – suitable for a fast mid-day meal. Servingware is disposable, so the restaurants can share a dishwasher as well as a kitchen. Seating is shared between the two and diners can take their meal out onto the big deck. Most of the foods are made in-house by Chef Madeline Solorio.
Variety of cuisines on menu
The restaurant is open for lunch on weekdays only, noon to 4 p.m. – and it’s cash only.
In leeping with the island theme of both restaurants, today’s opening buffet featured a few Caribbean touches as well as favorite American regional and other cuisines. Featured were herbed chicken – a thigh or three wings (the breast cost 25 cents extra), black beans with yellow rice, pasta primavera, pulled pork, corn on the cob, hot dogs, garlic shrimp, carved roasted pork loin and several green salads. For dessert, fresh fruit, guava pastries, and black and white cookies were available.
“I think most checks averaged around $5 today,” Elizabeth said. The grand opening was by word of mouth or from Dockside Grille diners who read flyers posted around the area.
A full bar is part of the shared restaurant. House wines and well liquor shots are $1 (mixing juices are $1 more); a 7-ounce can of Bud or Bud Light is $1. $4 martinis are available – a popular drink already on the menu at the Sea Grille.
“The response was really good,” Randall said. “We were really busy. People seemed to really like it – they were thanking us. I had one guy tell me he’s going to look for a second location for me.” He laughed. “I think it’s going to do well. We’ll see.”
Dockside Dollar Grille
- 766 Northlake Blvd., Lake Park
- 561-842-2180; www.docksideseagrille.com
- Open Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. Cash only.