By Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto
City & Shore Magazine
There’s a place to eat near the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Bayview Drive in Fort Lauderdale with a local following so loyal they’d rather their little secret didn’t get out.
Four years ago, Adam Kanner and his wife, Michelle, envisioned opening a casual, open-kitchen-style eatery serving wholesome food and fresh smoothies, cold-pressed juices and nut mylks (almond, cashew and coconut). “We wanted to create a neighborhood place where people would love to congregate,” Adam says.
“At first the inspiration was the juice,” Michelle adds. “That was our niche.”
The couple had been living in California, where Adam worked as a personal chef for some heavy-hitting foodie clientele, and juicing was all the rage. When they decided to move back to South Florida – where Adam was born – the idea of making his chef talents available to the locals while introducing Floridians to the west coast juice craze seemed a natural fit.
Soon their little restaurant, named after Adam and Michelle’s newborn daughter, Mya, became Fort Lauderdale’s first cold-pressed juicery and kitchen combination.
Little Mya is now five years old and, while she knows that her parents’ restaurant, Myapapaya juicery + kitchen, is named in her honor, she may not yet comprehend how her name is helping further the whole food, juicing, healthy-lifestyle movement that so many South Floridians now embrace.
“We decided to create more of a healthy restaurant with healthy hours,” says Adam, who spent 20 years as a chef, 10 of them working for high-profile clients around the world. At Myapapaya, everything on the menu is made in-house, down to the ketchup. “I like to say we are ‘five-star food in a three-star setting’,” Adam says. “I wasn’t going to change my outlook on food just because it’s a casual place.”
And that’s largely the draw of Myapapaya. Word spread and soon the health conscious and those simply looking for a new lunch spot alike began checking out Myapapaya, where the food was delicious and the juices sublime. Little did they know the chef preparing their avocado toast, Cali-style bison burger or dragonfruit acai bowl was once exclusive to such celebrity clientele as Janet Jackson and Pat Riley. And that wasn’t the intention, Adam says. “It was never about me, it is about having a relationship with the customers, about being everybody’s personal chef.”
Supported by a team of talented chef/employees, Adam and Michelle were ready to take the next step in their business venture. Last year they selected a location for a second Myapapaya and began renovations. Myapapaya on the River, at 2528 N. Federal Highway, is scheduled to open at the end of the month.
The new Myapapaya will be similar in concept to the original – wholesome food, fresh juices and smoothies in a bright, colorful atmosphere. The new location will feature the same personal touches – with oak countertops and tables Adam built himself and artwork from Adam’s mother, Lynda Delene Kanner. Of course, there is a tribute to Mya, who is featured in a mural by Alberto Roman overlooking the river.
While the final menu is still coming together, the new Myapapaya on the River will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner with some unique twists. “We keep our fingers on the pulse and like to introduce what people want, like cold-brew coffee,” Adam says. By day, patrons can sip organic espresso, a cold brew or a smoothie on the patio, and wine, craft beer or kombucha in a romantic setting by night.
Myapapaya may be at the forefront of South Florida’s local healthy eating scene, but at the end of the day, it’s the relationships they enjoy with their customers and their 40-plus purveyors that contribute to their success, Adam says.
Some customers may prefer they kept the place a secret, but Adam and Michelle say they pride themselves on getting to know their customers and creating an identity for the restaurant.
“It’s a culture, a lifestyle – it’s about eating well and enjoying life,” he says. “It’s like, ‘welcome to our home.’”