Last Update
Jan 21st, 2018

I Heart Mac & Cheese

1489 A-B SE 17 Street
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33316
Overall Rating
2.1
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
04/22/2016

Details

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Private Lot
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: No
Delivery: No

Pros

Free Parking
Attractive Restaurant

Cons

Salad Bar Food
Mystery Cheese Ruins the Concept

Critic's Review

There's a new "restaurant" in town specializing in Macaroni and Cheese and here is my review. Has it really come to this?

From the stupid name of the restaurant to the web site in "maintenance mode' to the goofy menu they originally posted; let's just say my expectations were low. But it's only $3.49 for a bowl of basic Mac & Cheese, so it was a cheap adventure.

It was 1:45 so I first walked over to the Marina Deli to check out the crowd; I was kind of surprised to see the place was dead empty. Get your pastrami now; it's going to be a long summer for those folks. Most of the old H&E Deli regulars are likely dead.

This place had a good crowd; they just opened Monday. I think you can serve bait and have a good crowd in a new restaurant the first couple of weeks. The lack of restaurant prowess started right away; there are menus and little golf card pencils when you walk in, but nobody to tell you how the thing works. You're SUPPOSED to fill this out before you get to the counter, but I didn't see anyone actually do it.

The "chef specials" were kind of weird; I get the lobster mac and cheese, but how does a cuban sandwich fit in? There's no bacon on a Cuban, so it wasn't real anyway.

There's a menu on the wall, but it doesn't have all of the ingredients. I saw pepperoni and diced ham. but it wasn't on the wall menu. It couldn't be $4.95 for some pepperoni, right? Wrong.

There were only 3 people in front of me, but it still took at least 10 minutes to get to the counter. Not a very smooth operation.

The problem with this "idea" is that the add-ons are too expensive. $5.00 to add a hot dog or some diced ham to my $3.49 mac and cheese? That's absurd. I decided to just try the mac and cheese, since that was the foundation of the concept.

The slowness of the operation allowed me to get a firm grip on how the whole thing works. It all starts with big tubs full of pre-cooked elbow macaroni.

There's a big pot of mystery cheese behind against the wall; a bowl of macaroni gets a ladle of the milky cheese, rendering something reminiscent of the Velveeta mac and cheese from our childhood. They then add the toppings, with whatever "other" cheese you choose on top.

The secret to the operation is the Ovention conveyor oven, which does the cheese melting magic that seals all of the ingredients together. Genius if you ask me.

So I finally got to place my order; their original menu offered you 3 cheeses on your mac and cheese, but now they're charging $1 each. It seemed like a better idea when I was getting a blend of cheeses, but I'm not paying $3 for 3 pinches of cheese. So I just went for cheddar.

As with all of the no-service restaurants, you fetch your own silverware. They have some fancy containers for all of the extras.

I grabbed a table and waited. It's actually a much nicer restaurant than I expected.

Waiting and waiting. Watching all of the people who actually agreed to go out for Mac & Cheese for lunch was somewhat entertaining.

Waiting and waiting. After 15 minutes I'm thinking to myself; they could have made this for me while I was standing at the register, why was it taking so long. The operation is a disaster. Someone who came in after me got her's first. How is that possible? Nothing I ordered had to be prepared.

One bowl came out for the 2 guys who were right before me. Just one of the 2 orders. So one guy started eating while the other guy waited. It's a great system.

Tick, tock. Tick tock.

Finally, a runner brought it out.

I literally almost laughed out loud. Are you KIDDING me? After getting a photo, I seriously considered just leaving without eating any of it. This reminded me of the first time I made Mac & Cheese for myself. A bit too much milk. Not really cheesy enough.

I tasted it and it was pretty nothing. Over-cooked noodles, little blips of cheddar along with the mystery cheese sauce. This was much worse than the stuff on the buffet at the Golden Corral.

The guy at the next table got basically what I did with some pretzels on top. Maybe I should have gone for the complimentary goldfish?

Conclusion

This place reminds me of Italio without the red sauce options. Pre-Over-Cooked macaroni with a mystery cheese sauce is a bad start to a bowl of stuff; The false premise that this stuff is somehow "award winning" is sort of comical; any place in town has a better version of mac and cheese. If this was truly unique it might be interesting, but $10 for this slop with a hot dog in it is a losing proposition, even in culinary challenged Fort Lauderdale.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Administrator
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How does an always empty, bad restaurant sell franchises all across the country? Marketing.
Stacy
Reply
Lots of 5 star reviews for a restaurant that's ALWAYS EMPTY.
Administrator
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If you check out their web page they have photos of some of the other locations. They look like dumps. Not nearly as nice as the "model" restaurant. A lot of people are going to lose their money on this idea.
Jack
Reply
Some fool opened one of these in Parkland. Did they taste the food first? The big pull of the concept is that you don't need a hood or grease trap because it's all electric. I guess some people find that appealing.
Administrator
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It also means that the "restaurant" has no resale value, because it's not a real restaurant. Anyone who buys it will have to put in a kitchen, which is kind of expensive and time consuming.
Administrator
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It's hard to believe that like 5 of these are opening, probably franchises. The estimated build out cost is 180-300K, and one of these businesses will never be worth 300K. So you're buying yourself a job and you'd be lucky to get 1/2 your money back.

Negative investing.
Administrator
Reply
added the new menu. The minimum option went from $4.95 to $7.95 as they now make you pay for 1 protein, 2 veggies and second cheese. How does forcing fewer people to pay more add up?
Ekay
Reply
How is this place still open? The owner keeps pushing franchising.
Administrator
Reply
Franchising is where the money is; get other people to give you money so they can lose theirs.

The problem with a restaurant like this is that it will never be worth what it costs to build out. The Yogurt people are learning this. They pay $450K to get into a restaurant and even a super successful store is only worth $250K. Yogurtland is asking $550K for their Plantation store and it's worth about $150K.
Administrator
Reply
Not 1 person in the place at 2:15pm
Gina
Reply
You see a 5 star review on Yelp and then you see the picture they posted and it looks like something you'd be hesitant to give to your dog.
Jay
Reply
I wish I'd seen this before I went. What a botched idea. This stuff won an award?
Tina
Reply
I'm sorry you had to experience this. As usual, you had me in stitches. If I didn't know better I'd say that you made the whole thing up!
really even now
Reply
I've been THREE times...Not once did i get to just go up and place my order... for some insane reason you have to fill out an information form to be graced enough to get a bowl of mac-n-cheese!!! WTF... 30 mins for lunch and you have to wright a flipping essay???? bad business... no wonder there are no lines or wait time at the height of lunch rush... hate it and haven't had a chance to even eat there!!!!!!
Administrator
Reply
Why would you go to a mac and cheese place 3 times in one week? Seems pretty nutty to me.

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