Lakeside Eatery’s Nancy Clark is no stranger to the Marco Island restaurant scene. Except she’s more accustomed to the managing part than the cooking end of the business.
The COVID-19 Pandemic forced Clark to rely on the cooking skills she honed while raising her two daughters.
“Our motto is trendy food with a healthy twist,” remarked Clark. “That’s been our motto since we opened. We opened in November and had to close due to COVID. We opened back up the end of June.”
Clark is partners with Julie Stoller, who also operates the hair salon next door to Lakeside Eatery, Strands by Jules. Clark was working at a bank when Stoller pitched the restaurant idea. It took them a year to get the restaurant built and all the permits in hand.
Clark decided on Nancy’s Brisket Mac n Cheese Wrap as her Chef’s Choice entry.
“I think in this time, comfort food has become the thing,” Clark said. “So, while we offer healthy food on a daily basis, the comfort food has kind of made a comeback too.
“We do special’s every day. Then we throw in something like a loaded baked potato stuffed with brisket. Or we do what I’m making now, a macaroni and cheese brisket wrap. We’ve sold more of these than anything else we’ve sold. We do a lot of healthy stuff, then we throw in some comfort food now and then.”
Morgan Gastineau, who Clark describes as the restaurant’s “right hand,” is a proponent of healthy eating.
“We just try to do both,” Clark said. “We do all the salads. We have a beautiful Greek salad. We offer spinach pie as a special along with a Greek salad. I did Texas chili and it sold out immediately. It was 12:30 and it was sold out that fast. We do some sort of Mediterranean thing on Wednesday; we do some sort of Texas/Mexican thing on Tuesday. Friday is comfort food day.”
Clark said another staple of Lakeside Eatery is generous portions. To-go boxes are a big thing at the restaurant.
While Clark didn’t cook professionally, she has extensive experience in the restaurant business, both here and in her native Texas, where her roots go back five generations. Most of her previous restaurant experience was a general manager.
“I was a beverage manager for a hotel in Houston for years before I moved here,” she explained. “I moved here and worked at Bimini’s for Al and Robin Landers. After Bimini’s, I went to Cocomo’s. We built and opened that with Al and Robin Landers. Within five months they sold it and the current owners still have it going. Then I went to Five Brothers Pizza.”
Clark’s cooking experience started at home. “I learned to cook from being a mom. Raising a couple of kids. I love it. I didn’t plan on being the cook when I started here. It worked out that way. It’s fine; I’m having a great time. I was general manager, never a cook. I was never in the kitchen. I was in the bar; I was hostess. I was always running around, but I was never in the kitchen.
Recipe for Brisket Mac and Cheese Wrap
Mac and cheese
A hearty appetite
Nancy’s Mac and Cheese:
1 box penne pasta
1 pound Velveeta
1 stick butter
1 can of evaporated milk
Cook Pasta Accordingly:
Layer pasta, slices of butter, top layer with sliced Velveeta, shredded cheddar, and salt and pepper.
Repeat one more layer.
Pour evaporated milk over top.
Pop in oven at 350 till browned.
Lay Wrap Flat:
Spoon a generous amount of Mac and Cheese, layer with heated barbecue brisket, and add a dash of sauce. Wrap tightly and lay seam down in a hot skillet or flat top to seal.
Slice in half and ENJOY.