Frank's Kitchen will bring diner food -- and more -- to Whittier
Frank Berta was given a diary when he was ten, and his very first entry read, "Today we had chicken and it was delicious."
That youthful love of food spawned a lifetime of interest in cooking. And after years of owning his own contracting business, Berta is giving up remodeling to take that interest professional. Berta and his wife, Dina -- a former Rocky Mountain News reporter and writer for Nation's Restaurant News -- are getting ready to open Frank's Kitchen in the spot at 26th and High, in the Whittier neighborhood, that was once Far East Restaurant.
"Initially, we wanted to do a food truck," says Dina. "Frank was keeping his eyes open for a commercial kitchen. He stopped and inquired about the Far East Restaurant and found out the landlady was looking for a buyer or a tenant, so we put down a deposit and signed the lease in December."
They put the food-truck dream on hold and started filling the former Chinese eatery with their own concept, which Frank describes as "a little bit eclectic." He'll be the chef -- after all, the place is called Frank's Kitchen -- and he plans to offer some diner classics or, as he puts it, "the old-school easy and greasy thing," as well as some vegetarian and soul-food options.
And, says the Illinois native, there will be hot dogs: "Vienna beef. We'll do a classic Chicago dog and a Southwestern take."
The breakfast-and-lunch spot will also serve hamburgers, Cajun fried turkey and smoked beef brisket. And once it's been open for a while, the Bertas say, they'll start serving a Sunday brunch, complete with empanadas, Mexican sweet bread, and drinks from the espresso bar.
Frank says he's now starting to cook through the menu, and once he's done that three times, they'll be ready to open the doors. "We're just going to turn the 'open' sign on and see who comes in," he says. "We'll announce we're open after that."
And that, he says, should be sometime in mid-May.