In Part 1 of this story I left off when I accomplished my goal of opening Arugula Restaurant in 2009. (Link to Part 1: click here) It was a dream come true. Here I was, cooking my own creations nightly in a busy “diet conscious”, successful restaurant serving Northern Italian cusine. It was all going so well, I had the desire to expand!

Lo and behold, about 18 months after opening Arugula, the restaurant adjacent (Radex Bistro, created by my former boss Radek Cerny) went out of business. This was during the fall of 2010, at the end of The Great Recession, and the space sat empty for a few months. Well, during those few months I built up the gumption to take over the space and expand Arugula by about 30 seats.

But what was I to do with the remaining 60 seat dining room and the full kitchen? Breakfast was the obvious answer. The 30 seat dining room that was Arugula’s expansion (pictured in above photo) lay between the two restaurants, and both restaurants used this dining room daily. This small room actually had its own concept, “Amaro Drinkery Italia”, for the first 6 months, and frankly, those 6 months of operating 3 different concept restaurants were just too much for me, so Amaro was dissolved and Arugula and Tangerine merrily shared that room for 7 years. Happily, Tangerine still uses this room today.

So without a booming first year of business at Arugula, Tangerine probably would not exist. Without the goal to expand Arugula, it’s unlikely I would have opened a Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch restaurant. Funny how life’s journey unravels.

As for how I created the Tangerine concept, it was an extension of my dream to create “diet conscious” restaurants, this time brought to Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch offerings. In an effort to appeal to a large local audience, I first and foremost focused on classic “Americana Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch” genre, then added my European Mediterranean influences and of course the healthy twist.

Since the beginning and still today Tangerine follows these healthy ingredient practices:

• Oils: we use extra virgin olive oil as our primary oil. It’s in nearly everything savory we serve. For our no taste and high temperature oil we use expeller pressed non-GMO sunflower oil from Colorado. We also use whole full fat butter in small quantities in most dishes. We do not have Canola oil or any other highly processed “vegetable oil” in the kitchen at all.

• All flours are unbleached and organic.

• All items are made from scratch except for cheeses, high quality meats and breads.

• We do not knowingly buy any GMO products.

• We have ample and diverse vegetarian selections and a few meat centric dishes that are also offered with a vegetarian option. A diverse and varied vegan platter happily satisfies almost anyone.

• We are very gluten conscious, and except for breads, waffles and pancakes, all dishes are already gluten free. However, we do not and are unable to guarantee anything is 100% gluten free.

• All of our salt used everywhere is solar evaporated Pacific Sea salt from northern California.

• All menus are clearly labeled with GLUTEN FREE and/or VEGGIE.

Coming next, Part 3 of “Origins of Tangerine” – concepting beyond just the menu concept.