Anyone who has ever owned a restaurant knows, or quickly learns, the required sacrifices and challenges: managing 18-hour days on your feet, meeting the ever-changing tastes of customers, and constantly striving to maintain high standards of service.
But beyond those basic hurdles, there’s that indefinable something that makes people in the industry feel comfortable returning time and again. For Tim and Jenny Lipman, owners of Coolinary in Palm Beach Gardens, the indefinable part of their success is wrapped up in a philosophy that says life should be centered on sharing high-quality, simple food with friends and family.
It’s a custom rooted in Tim’s childhood in Titusville, where the family regularly assembled for rustic, homemade meals prepared by his grandmother. “The dinner table is a special place for building memories,” he says. “It was very much like that in my own house. We always had breakfast and dinner together, and I think it’s an important part of the day.” He is committed to recreating that tradition with his own growing family and extending the experience to Coolinary patrons as well.
From fresh, clean, minimalistic design to the refined but casual service and menu, everything at Coolinary is crafted to make people feel like they are having an intimate experience with loved ones. “It’s about being welcoming,” says Tim. “When a customer says thank you to us, we like to respond, ‘No, thank you.’ We get to know our customers and, as much as we learn about them, they learn about us too. Many have become our friends over time.”
On a Thursday evening in their Palm Beach Gardens home, Tim is whipping up roasted spatchcock (backbone removed) chicken that has been soaking in brine overnight, creamy polenta with blistered tomatoes, and green beans with Castelvetrano olives from Sicily. All
the while, new mom Jenny lovingly tends to their baby, 4-month-old Oliver. The Lipmans are relaxed and clearly in their element at home, as the aroma of garlic fills the kitchen and one of their two dogs, Mowgli, a 115-pound rescue boxer, settles at Jenny’s feet.
Tim is an adventurous cook, and even with a casual dinner at home, he insists on the freshest ingredients. Vegetables and fruit figure prominently in their family menus, and they look forward to planting a vegetable garden in a corner of their yard. While Jenny also cooks (“She makes the best crispy eggs and great bread,” Tim notes), most of the kitchen work is done by Tim, who is the executive chef at Coolinary. At home, he concocts simple meals like fish, vegetable soup, and cacio e pepe with pecorino cheese, black pepper, and butter. “Anything I can put on the stove and smell all day is great,” he says. “And on Sundays, we get out the pasta roller and spread batches of fresh pasta on the kitchen island.”
Tim and Jenny have known each other since elementary school, but it wasn’t until high school that they saw each other in a new light. “We kind of ran into each other at a friend’s house, and from then on we hit it off,” says Jenny. In 2000, in search of more opportunities, they migrated to Palm Beach County, where Jenny attended Palm Beach Community College and Tim enrolled at the Florida Culinary Institute.
After steadily moving up the ranks as a chef, Tim became executive chef at Leftovers in Jupiter, and Jenny worked in service. Although they say they moved to Palm Beach Gardens with no idea what it would be like, they’ve fallen in love with the area. “It’s the best thing we’ve done,” says Tim. “We’ve met great friends and amazing people.”
The vision to open their own restaurant came to them on a wedding anniversary trip to Scottsdale, Arizona (they married in 2009). “What they were doing at the restaurants there was right up our alley,” says Tim. “They were chef-driven and had the vibe we wanted to create. We started thinking we could do the same thing back in Florida.” Coolinary Café opened in 2012 on Donald Ross Road, with Tim as chef/co-owner and Jenny as co-owner, overseeing a staff that has grown from little more than a handful to nearly 50 today.
With Coolinary Café, the couple retained the Scottsdale vibe that initially appealed to them by offering something different from the usual area menu. “We didn’t want to open another seafood restaurant,” says Tim. He describes the cuisine as American but notes that the menu changes often, sometimes veering into a bit of Southern, Latin, or Asian.
Jenny supervised every decision outside of the menu, from the decor to the plates, glassware, and staff, with an eye on high quality that wouldn’t be intimidating. “We wanted it to be casual enough that people didn’t feel they had to dress up,” says Jenny. As for the menu, Tim says he tries to “keep the food simple enough that it’s approachable but elevated enough that there’s value.” The formula seems to have worked. “Almost immediately, we saw repeat customers,” Jenny says. In 2017, they added The Parched Pig, a bar that served small bites next door.
Fast forward nearly a decade, when the couple made a conscious decision to rein in the all-consuming lifestyle of running both a restaurant and a bar. “I’m 42, and Jenny’s 40,” says Tim. “We’re finally focused on having kids and putting ourselves first. We love the restaurant and love the business, and that will never change. I’ll probably always be in a kitchen, but we had put everything else on hold for a long time. Now it’s time to do it all—and if you want a family, you can’t work 70 hours a week.”
In 2019, they ceased the lunch service to focus on dinner only. And late last year, they moved to a 3,100-square-foot space in the same plaza, The Shops of Donald Ross Village, and combined their two establishments, Coolinary Café and The Parched Pig, under one name: Coolinary. The new space opened November 12—precarious timing for the family. “Oliver was born four days later,” says Jenny.
The menu at the new Coolinary retains popular dishes from the old location—fried chicken and waffles is a perennial fave—but Tim says he likes to change things up often, taking inspiration from everywhere. “I don’t want to get tunnel vision by being focused too much in one direction,” he says. “I’m always open to experimenting, but first and foremost we have to maintain balance on the menu, and then the products have to be available and in season. We’re not doing anything with peaches in January.” The Parched Pig now offers the full restaurant menu as well.
Patrons will also take note of the same casual-but-upscale atmosphere, with its minimalistic, clean design. The combination of the restaurant and bar has altered the clientele a bit, says Tim. Regulars of The Parched Pig and the old Coolinary Café still come in, but a new patron who wants to have a martini with dinner at the table has also emerged. “At the old Coolinary [Café], we just served beer and wine, and the bar didn’t really have food,” he says. “By combining the two, we now have the best of both worlds. As far as I’m concerned, we just opened a completely new restaurant.”
The pandemic had slowed the reopening by a few months (the new Coolinary was originally meant to open in its combined space last summer), but the business continued to thrive as they kept busy with takeout orders. “For almost six weeks, the menu was based on what we had and what we could get,” says Tim. But as soon as they were able to reopen, people came back. “At first, it wasn’t a flood, but they started to trickle back,” says Jenny. They only had to close down completely for one weekend when they finally made the move from the two previous locations to the new combined location.
During the enforced downtime of the pandemic, Tim and Jenny also rediscovered how much they enjoy spending time together at their home, which is nestled on two acres in Palm Beach Country Estates, west of I-95 off Donald Ross Road. Jenny grew up on 20 acres in Titusville, where there were always horses to ride. At their current home, the Lipmans have two horses on the property, Red and River, that Jenny exercises on the dirt roads throughout the immediate area and into neighboring Jupiter Farms and Riverbend Park.
“COVID made us stop a little, and it was nice,” says Jenny. Adds Tim: “We had breakfast together every day. In 24 years, that really never happened!” With a new baby and renewed commitment to maintaining a balanced home life, Jenny has pulled back from full-time work at the restaurant to care for Oliver, though she plans to continue supervising the front-of-house operations. “It’s Oliver time now,” she says. That doesn’t mean they don’t have plans for the future. “Down the road, I could see opening another restaurant with a different concept,” says Tim.
Whatever the future holds for them in terms of business, home will always be their happy place. “We absolutely can go all day on this property without seeing another person,” says Tim. “We turn up the music and let the animals loose (in addition to Mowgli, they have a French bulldog/pitbull mix named Tiny). I fire up the grill, and we relax by the pool, often with friends or family.”
“It’s all about balance,” he continues. “I love cooking, but I really love the relationships that develop over shared meals. When someone tells you about the great food and great experience they’ve had, that trumps everything.”
Coolinary, 4580 Donald Ross Road Suite 100, Palm Beach Gardens; 561.249.6760