Munchies to bring on even more mojo

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Munchies Cafe

New owner of Gulf Gate classic fires up some new features 

“A little more chill, Munchies style.” That’s how Munchies 420 Cafe owner John Kirk, who recently took ownership of the 22-year-old Gulf Gate landmark, describes the way things are being done now. It will still be the place to go for a fun night out and the favored restaurant bar when a late-night craving for munchies hits long after dark, he said assuredly. 

Appropriately enough, on April 20 — or to state it numerically, 4/20 — an estimated 1,500 of Munchies’ longtime fans along with a whole new crowd came out to celebrate the debut of the updated establishment, located at 6639 Superior Ave. The party, dubbed Munchiesfest 2024, started in the afternoon with live music, games, raffles,and food served in the Tiki Bar, at the ample main bar, and in the dining area. As the day turned into evening, the crowds grew. The party went well into the night.

“Munchies 420 Cafe is an iconic brand,” said Kirk. “I’m a serial entrepreneur.”

Munchies Cafe

One who has brought some significant improvements.

“We came in and gave the place a fresh coat of paint, new furniture, a state-of-the-art sound system, new signs and 15 televisions carrying sporting events,” Kirk said. “We’ve also added table service. It’s no longer a do-it-yourself place. The host meets you at the desk and seats you.”

Munchies Cafe

And there are now several distinctly different spaces. 

“Munchies now has a pub theme that’s perfect for karaoke and singalongs. The brand-new tiki bar has its own vibe and then there’s the inside area with tables,” Kirk said.

Because of its range of hours, he sees the business as being a place that appeals to different groups of customers at different times of the day.

“We want to be a part of the community and to be a hospitality cornerstone of Gulf Gate,” Kirk said.

With that in mind, there’s now a game room for kids and table service for families who come in for dinner. 

“Our full-service casual table service is available at all times,” he said. 

The 420 Munchies Cafe menu is also getting an update, but fans of the eatery’s classic dishes need not fear. The beloved “Fried Twinkies” dessert drizzled with raspberry, white chocolate caramel or chocolate toppings will remain. So too will the “Fat Daddy” sandwich. 

Munchies Cafe

“It’s obscene, but it’s so good,” said Kirk with a laugh. 

The perfect meal for the hungry customer, the Fat Daddy lives up to its name. It contains a cheesesteak with sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, spuds and a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise ketchup and cheese. 

Kirk said that one of the biggest and, he considers, best menu change is that hot dog and hamburger orders now come with French fries. 

Another Munchies classic that gets star billing is the “Fire in Your Hole” dish. “Wimps need not apply,” cautions the menu.  

The creation of J.D. Chester, the Munchies original owner, it is a classic and famous dish that has received international attention. 

“We had a customer who tried it a few weeks ago, but he only managed seven wings,” said Kirk. 

Over the years, only a select group have succeeded in the daunting challenge. To make it to the finish line and “eternal glory” as the menu promises, the muncher must be 18 years or older, register in advance, sign a liability waiver, and then chow down on 10 chicken wings in 20 minutes. Every wing has been doused in fiery sauce that Munchies proclaims is made from “some of the hottest peppers in the world.” 

Winners go home with a commemorative T-shirt and a photo on the Munchie’s Wall of Pain. 

“J.D.’s original sauces are part of the key to success,” said Kirk. 

Chester’s signature “Phat Sandwiches” and “Famous Phillies” are also a treasured part of Munchies lore.

Theme nights are among the new happenings at Munchies. Tuesdays are taco and tequila nights. Karaoke, bingo, and trivia fans also have a reason to celebrate and get in on the fun. 

In June, special sports nights, including the pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 302 are on the calendar.

In July, Munchies will host its first 7-10 event. Cannabis fans, Kirk explained, know that when the number 710 is turned upside down, it looks like the word “oil” which is why July 10 is the day to celebrate the wonders of cannabis oil.  

Take-out orders are now available through Grubhub and Uber Eats. DoorDash will also be available soon. Food orders can be placed until 3 am. 

The cafe opens every day at 4:20 p.m. and stays open until 3 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, the doors are open until 4:20 a.m. 

In the near future, Saturday and Sunday brunch will be added, Kirk said, and lunch service will begin at noon. Call (941) 303-3304 or check the Facebook page for updates.

CUTLINES

A Munchies customer chats with owner John Kirk at Munchiesfest, opening day. (Jane photo)
Munchies 420 Cafe in Gulf Gate has an updated look. (Provided)
Opening night for Munchies 420 Cafe drew a crowd long into the night. (Provided)
Customers enjoyed the new large screen TVs in Munchies 420 Cafe Tiki Bar (horizontal- Jane)
Tiki bar at Munchies 420 Cafe on opening day – (vertical – Jane)

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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