It’s about thyme Lakeland got a fresh, fast eatery. Soon Lakeland’s hungry will be able to order online or stop by the pick-up window of Good Thyme for a quick, delicious meal. From the minds who brought you Cob & Pen, comes Good Thyme! This will be the second Lakeland restaurant (with a bar + arcade on the way) for partners Jason Ellis, Conn O’Leary, and Corey Ripley.
Good Thyme has been in the works for a while, dished Cob & Pen owner Jason Ellis. “We talk about different concepts and ideas all the time,” he said. Ellis was clear they didn’t want to add to the noise of a concept already being done, but rather fill a gap for the city. From watching Cob & Pen’s social media and social media in general, Ellis has seen requests from Lakeland foodies for more fresh, healthy and dietary-conscious options.
To run the show at Good Thyme as managers, head chefs, and partners, Ellis enlisted the help of former Cob & Pen employees, Amber Davis and Matt Flowers. Davis has been in the culinary field for ten years. She attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando and her career has taken her from Lake Wales to New York, Sebring, Boca, and Lakeland. Cob & Pen sits high on the list of restaurants she’s worked with. “Every day Jason would come in and say ‘Let’s do something new.’ It was a challenge, it was good because we’d have to make it from scratch and we’d have to make it in-house,” she said. Flowers and Davis plan to carry over that same innovation into the Good Thyme menu.
Flowers hails from Avon Park. He moved to Boca Raton after high school, landing a job at a pizza place. “My culinary upbringing was pretty normal for a Southern kid in Avon Park. I didn’t know a whole lot outside of collard greens and cornbread,” he said. From the pizza joint, he moved on to an Italian eatery. There he worked with a chef who he says taught him everything he knows. “I kind of fell in love with the rush. I like the fast-paced work and the action – it keeps me going,” said Flowers.
The Good Thyme team have been working together to conceptualize a menu suited for just about everyone. Davis described their cuisine as, “A mix of healthy and fresh and home comfort type food.” Flowers added, “Something for your every day if you’re really health conscious and something for your cheat day too.”
The menu will boast Southern comforts like chicken biscuits and classic breakfast sandwiches, in addition to gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. The Good Thyme partners wanted to blend Lakeland’s affinity for classic comfort food with the dietary-specific and healthy eats they’ve heard requested. Ellis explained, “Our main goal is to have offerings that appeal to ALL of Lakeland with a curated menu bent towards cleaner/healthier and just in general more conscious eating. Focused on along with providing comfort food and staples, we have multiple and hearty options for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan conscious eaters too.” The chefs broke down a few of their favorite dishes on the menu. For Flowers, their cauliflower fried rice takes the cake. A spin on traditional fried rice, they’ve substituted rice with riced cauliflower and a generous helping of veggies served with an over-easy egg on top. Flowers described this hearty yet light option as, “pretty, tasty, and innovative.”
A mouthwatering tuna poke will grace the Good Thyme menu as well. The tuna is dressed in a classic sauce and accompanied by pineapple and fresh cucumber on a bed of sushi rice. It is finished off with wasabi mayo, scallions, and black sesame seeds and served alongside crispy fried wontons.
Both Flowers and Davis are partial to the smoked pork belly tacos. Complimenting the smoked pork belly is a creamy slaw of house-made yogurt and brine from their own sweet and spicy pickles – a fun repurpose of ingredients that works well together. The tacos are topped with grilled pineapple, a house-made barbeque sauce, and jalapenos from the same brine.
Davis said she is excited for the opportunity to provide something much needed to the community while also having the chance to flex her culinary muscles. “The fun thing about this is we’re doing vegetarian and vegan, and I don’t have a lot of experience with it, so it’s a learning experience,” she said. “It’s awesome because it’s able to provide for people with dietary needs that a lot of places aren’t able to do or choose not to.” Part of the menu experimentation has been bringing in people with certain dietary needs or preferences to taste their food. From vegan sausages to acai bowls, Davis and Flowers have worked diligently to perfect the dishes using feedback from their taste-testers.
About Davis and Flowers, Ellis said, “It’s hard to find people who are that willing to take criticism, try new things, keep reinventing. That’s been a great part of our relationship since they were at Cob & Pen.” He expressed that their brilliant food is a testament to both the pride that goes into their work and the ego they leave out of it.
The team has toyed with the idea of putting made-to-order vegan biscuits on the menu along with vegan sausage and gravy. Vegan desserts like brownies or cheesecake are likely to make an appearance too. “It’s not that we want to label ourselves as a vegan place, we just want to be a place where everyone can find something that tastes good.”
Fingers crossed, Good Thyme hopes to open mid-September. Ellis would like to spend the weeks leading up to their grand opening doing soft openings and connecting with the community with promotions. “We also feel like, with the pick-up concept, efficiency and speed are super important,” Ellis said. So, in addition to food feedback, these soft openings will be the perfect opportunity to test their efficiency. On the go, pick-up breakfast and lunch will predominantly be their style. Dixieland offers breezeway seating outside of Concord Coffee, and the Good Thyme space has a patio area they plan to spruce up for hungry patrons who want to hang out.
Good Thyme won’t only be sharing a breezeway with Concord Coffee – the two plan to collaborate. They are working out the details of being able to order Good Thyme food at Concord and vice versa, Good Thyme may have Concord drip or cold brew available at the pick-up window.
Having options for everyone has been at the forefront of the Good Thyme concept – for both their food and price point. “That’s our other goal is to keep it super approachable for everybody,” said Ellis. Out the door for breakfast, Good Thyme guests can expect to pay around $3 to $7, and for lunch with a drink and side in the $8 to $12 range. Of course, specialties like their tuna poke may run you a bit more.
Tentatively, their hours of operation will be Tuesday through Saturday 7 am to 3 pm. Concord may carry a few Good Thyme offerings on Sundays and Mondays. Ellis envisions weekly pop-ups too. “I really love oysters and I feel like the oyster culture is missing a little bit in town, so we want to do an oyster happy hour every Friday – beer, wine, champagne, shrimp cocktail, oysters, lobster roll or a shrimp roll,” he said.
We can hardly contain our excitement for Good Thyme, but we would be remiss to not mention The Rec Room. The marriage of a bar and an arcade, The Rec Room will have newer and classic console games, classic arcade games, ski ball, air hockey, ping pong and the like. Word is they plan to have a golf simulator too! Libations will include a selection of draft beers and curation of canned beers, wine, and cocktails. In Ellis’s dream scenario, The Rec Room will open spring of 2020.
“We’ve really fallen in love with this verging culture that’s bubbling underneath the surface in Lakeland,” said Ellis. “It’s fun to be a part of.”
1037 Dixieland Mall Ln, Lakeland