There’s new flavors in the Park Avenue restaurant game, and it comes in the form of an eatery with a rather quirky name — Garp & Fuss.
Located at 348 N. Park Ave., Garp & Fuss, still in its soft-opening phase, is the brainchild of owners Nikki Nielsen and Liz Zucco, who are excited to introduce their takes on food and drink to Winter Park.
“We’re just going for something that is more relaxed, playful and fun,” Nielsen said. “We want it to be a place where you come in, and it feels like this is an extension of our house.
“Liz and I came up with this concept, because we’re always searching for a place to have really good food and really good drinks, and we wanted to marry the two together because we always felt like we were compromising on one or the other,” she said. “We want our restaurant to have the feel like you were coming to our house to hang out.”
The desire to make their restaurant a casual, family-run eatery runs deep for the duo — so much so that it’s the origin of the restaurant’s unusual name. “Garp” and “Fuss” are the nicknames handed down to Zucco’s younger sisters by their mother. It was also a means of honoring Liz’s late father, who died from cancer not long ago.
“We wanted to just pay homage to really keeping it in the family,” Nielsen said. “Their mom still calls them Garp and Fuss to this day.”
Both Nielsen and Zucco, Winter Park residents, have years of restaurant experience, but it wasn’t until last year that the two finally decided to act on their desire to start their own business.
From that moment on, the duo searched for the perfect spot to finally place their new business.
“We walked in and we both just felt like it had a lot of potential,” Nielsen said of the location. “There is so many different areas — there’s an upstairs loft, there’s a little back area where we threw a pool table in — and we just really loved the area.”
Nielsen calls the restaurant’s style of food “American fusion,” for lack of a better term, but she said it’s largely about small plates that can be easily shared.
A good portion of the menu consists of flatbread such as the Fruity pig — which features bacon, goat cheese, arugula, fig, and balsamic — and sandwiches such as the Boozy Burger — a house burger topped with bacon, crispy onion rings, cheddar cheese and bourbon barbecue sauce.
The restaurant also offers a variety of wings and what Nielsen calls “Start & Share,” which include tacos and a “Butcher’s Board” — which includes cured meats, cheeses and seasonal accompaniments.
Although the restaurant currently is in its soft opening phase (they’re only serving lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and dinners on Tuesday and Thursday) Nielsen said they plan to host a grand opening in March.
The extended soft opening is being done so she and Zucco can make sure everything is perfect for their new customers.
“The biggest thing for us — besides opening up and creating this awesome restaurant and trying to give an exceptional experience to customers — is we just really want to create this culture and just try to be a little bit different,” Nielsen said.