Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shannon Yates' Mad Take-Out Takes Fort Myers by Storm!

Shannon Yates is on a roll. Mad Take-Out (MTO) is his latest culinary success, and a brilliant idea, shared with its Executive Chef, Ruth Cohen. He’s stayed within ½ mile of Cru, which he transformed, during the 2004-7 housing market bubble, into arguably the must sought after spot in Lee County. (Cru closed in Dec., after he, and subsequent chefs, left.) He then resurrected Bacchus (briefly Toro) in the Bell Tower shops, which is packed with his loyal followers. Now, with Mad Take-out's volume, just a few weeks after opening, he’s got another success, and it doesn’t even have a chair or table to sit at.

In the diminutive Pinebrook Plaza, north of Bell Tower, north of Cantina Laredo, and east of Outback, they have created a sparkling clean, well organized catering size kitchen with more than ample room to prepare a cocooning couple’s take-out dinner,a family's lunch, or a party of 300’s multi course catered event. Not a problem.

Step inside-you’re greeted by friendly people. Look at the menu’s over 80 possibilities. (compare that to moribund Cru’s meager twelve offerings). The Mad take-Out concept is simple. Veteran caterer Ruth Cohen is meticulous about using truly fresh ingredients. All is made on site. For example, starting with the pizza dough, from spelt flour instead of regular wheat flour. Spelt is a tasty, healthy cousin of wheat. I ordered the $18 16” Spaniard pizza, with spelt crust, mozzarella, Spanish chorizo slices, shrimp and red pepper. The crust was rolled out, in front of me, sauced, and slid in the
huge Garland pizza oven. In no time it was boxed, and I shared it with other pizza lovers who said “this crust is really good-who makes it?” There's 7 basic pizzas, and over 24 topping choices. I also sampled the earthy yet light hummus, the properly made tabbouleh, and savored the large, bright green fresh, meaty Ceringola olives. Don’t like salty olives? Well, these meaty fresh babies “have your name” on them, and just one can make you lust for more. My partner loved the Ultimate Veggie wrap sandwich, with avocado, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, Swiss cheese and Vegenaise on green Ezekiel bread, and it's not even St. Paddy's Day. Very lush and very filling for only $5.25. There’s five spring rolls, with the signature “Krazy roll’s” surimi crab, cream cheese, to-chi sauce and teriyaki glaze. The best! We took a Hamachi and scallion sushi roll ($7.25) from the cooler, and the yellowtail is fresh as could be. There’s also hot sandwiches, oven roasted chicken, various past dishes and over a dozen salads. MTO has food for lactose diets, high protein diets, Celiac diets. The salads come in small, medium, and family sizes. The sandwiches are good sized. A popular sandwich features tasty red tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and homemade olive tapenade on a thick bread roll. Dig in. There's a big cooler with other goodies.
Got picky kidz? Entice them with chicken fingers, hot dogs, fried mac ‘n cheese, grilled cheese, PBJ, little pizzas and even tater tots.

Best part? You can order from your home computer, by cell phone, fax, or send smoke signals- your order will be ready and waiting. I’m just psyched, happy it's opened, and amazed at how smoothly everything runs. I just don't have time to cook. This makes take- out far easier than grocery shopping and cooking. The enjoyable quality, price and quantity makes it a slam dunk.

Kick back with one of over 20 soft drinks, a dozen red wines and as many nice white wines, in full bottle, with some half sized “splits”.

Have a sweet tooth? The Tate’s Bake Shops’ Chocolate Chip Cookies are to die for! Light and crisp, they're a healthy pleasure. Ditto for the Sweet Olive Oil Tortas. These thin round crisp, lightly oiled 5” wheat “flat breads”, eight to a box, are lightly dusted with sugar and anise seed. Savor as dessert, or serve 'em with cheese, jam, coffee or tea. The smoked salmon is tops! One mini-Godiva Chocolate cheesecake will satisfy a sweet tooth, and not add to the waistline.Finding these goodies is why I, like the others in the shop with me, will come back, again and again. Ruth and Shannon have healthy foods, be they familiar as mac ‘n cheese or mildly exotic as spelt crust pizza. Their creations are made with love, reasonably priced, and gourmet quality. It tastes that way, or Ruth wouldn’t let you put it on your table. Fast, friendly take-out service. Fresh, healthy food. What better nourishment than this, to enjoy in your home?

Mad Take-Out, Pinebrook Plaza, 12995 S. Cleveland Ave just north of the Bell Tower Shops, 693-TOGO, or madtakeout.com
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*******ADDENDUM 5/25/09******
Shannon Yates is no longer associated with Mad Takeout or with Bacchus. According to Manager Cyndie Doragh, Shannon recently split, amicably, and he is off for a well needed rest in Europe. Shannon didn't respond to my emails.
He's creative and successful at whatever cuisine he creates. I wouldn't be surprised if he moves to Naples or to another city, with a greater audience for his finer cuisines. Madtakeout's high quality should continue, with able Ruth Cohen still at the helm.
*****ADDENDUM 2/17/2012***
Shannon didn't move, he went back to Cru for a while to work with Chef Harold Balink till a noncompete clause period was over, and left.  Bacchus folded without Shannon.
He then  started and ran Lush for about a year, until 12/31/2011, when it was sold to a group of restauranteurs. Acrimonious words and complaints flowed between all thereafter, and it was renamed Stillwater Grille.   
And yes, Mad Takeout did not last long without Shannon.
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