Morty & Edna’s Craft Kitchen of Highlands County
When one walks into Morty & Edna’s Craft Kitchen in Lake Placid, there is a feeling of warmth and comfort, almost like the feeling one may get stepping into grandma and grandpa’s house – but with a modern, industrial twist.
As owners Elizabeth “Ellie” and Joey Acevedo explain it, that is the plan. In fact, their company motto is “Serving up grandma’s food, with a side of grandpa’s jokes.”
The Acevedo’s playful, welcoming outlook is displayed throughout the restaurant from the cozy eclectic atmosphere, to the fun menu item names like, “Fritatta Sounds Dirty,” “You Wanna Piece of Me?” and “Ugly Cupcake.”
“We have a small menu because every day we make everything fresh from scratch,” Joey said. “We’re specials driven. Every day that you come in we have something completely different for you. We have different soup, different hot plates, a different sandwich and we switch up the cakes, muffins and desserts every day as well.”
The pair has had an extensive career as chefs, with Joey even previously working as the sous chef at the Waldorf Astoria in Fort Lauderdale. When they moved to Lake Placid to be with family and to start a family of their own, they decided to venture out and open their own restaurant.
That’s when they turned to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for assistance. Certified business consultant, Michael Noel, was ready to help from the very beginning.
“Michael at Florida SBDC at USF was a big help,” Joey explained. “He helped us with our finances and made sure that we paid a fair price for the business. And since we’ve acquired the business, he’s been great at helping us stay organized in our financials.”
Though Morty & Edna’s Craft Kitchen has only been open for a short period of time, they have already seen tremendous growth. “The SBDC has been great in helping us to grow. We started out with only four employees and we’re now up to six. We are making more money than we thought we were going to make. We’ve gone past our budget of plans,” Joey said.
Their rapid success and positive reviews from loyal customers have even caught the eye of local news outlets. The restaurant has been featured in the Highlands News-Sun and the pair recently shot a segment for Spectrum News 13’s Florida on a Tankful.
The recognition and customer fan base has made them a hot location for company functions and holiday parties, a service they didn’t even originally plan on providing. “We’ve been approached by lots of local businesses about catering needs, which is really cool. We never had it in mind to do catering. People are booking holiday parties here, which again, wasn’t in our plans. But it’s something that’s come up and we’re happy to do it,” Joey said.
“I think one of the biggest successes that we’ve had is the number of regulars that we’ve had in the short amount of time that we’ve been open,” Ellie added. “They’re here constantly and they show tremendous support. For me, that’s one of the bigger successes that we’ve had.”
As they continue to grow, the Acevedos plan to continuing their work with Noel and the Florida SBDC at USF.
“My advice for anybody that’s trying to get into a small business would be to look up the Florida SBDC at USF and use them as much as you can,” Joey said. “They’ve been just so much help in not only helping us acquire the business, but also helping us grow. They’re that shoulder for us to lean on when we need help.”