Many eating establishments come and go at UCF, but one restaurant recently added last month hopes to stick around.
Skewerz, a new restaurant recently added to the broad spectrum of eateries outside of the UCF Arena, is attempting to thrive and grow through unique food, a wide range of ingredients and fresh ideas.
Established this semester and located between the Domino’s and the Subway at Knights Plaza, Skewerz seeks to bring something different to the table: cuisine inspired by owner Randy Reich’s life in Israel.
“The culmination of Skewerz is simple: When I was in the army in Israel and when I was growing up in Israel, this was my favorite meal,” Reich said. “I’d order two skewers and I’d put it on a fresh-made flatbread of laffa and I would load it up with everything. … It would be massive, it would be like a three-pounder almost. You just sit there and eat it; I didn’t have to eat for the rest of the day.”
At Skewerz, it all starts off with selecting the type and amount of meat you’d like. After choosing between chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and vegetables, customers then decide to have it wrapped, tossed in a salad or plated with sides. The meat, which is cooked on skewers, is then applied to a laffa, a type of flatbread wrap, and topped with ingredients ranging from cheddar cheese, relish, jalapeños, cucumbers and many more.
Reich feels that the end product is a unique blend of flavors.
“The way I describe it is you have this infusion of all the flavors that you can think of that you like at one time jumping into your palate, as opposed to separately eating things that you like, it all just comes together,” Reich said. “Nothing does that. Not even a burrito, so to speak, because I believe the starches take away from the flavor.”
Samuel Ward, a sophomore at Valencia College majoring in public relations/organizational communications visiting Skewerz for the first time, also felt that the food was on a level of its own.
“It’s epic, I’m just about done in less than five minutes,” Ward said as he took the final bites of his wrap. “I’m a big fan of Chipotle. At first I thought it was gonna rival Chipotle, but to me it’s just another class by itself. … I can’t make a comparison between the two, but this is still epic.”
Reich believes that UCF’s campus is an ideal location for Skewerz to grow and succeed.
“The energy on a campus is really the biggest thing,” Reich said. “You go anywhere in the world, especially in the Middle East and Israel in a market, and it’s very casual and informal. You’re not there to be dressed in a suit, sit down, and wine and dine; you’re there to have a good solid meal without breaking your pocket. … And that’s exactly what this is. There’s no better place to try that and see the reaction than the energy on a campus.”
Soukaina Aroui, a UCF junior majoring in civil engineering, also felt that Skewerz had something special to offer.
“I like it; it’s different. UCF doesn’t have these kinds of restaurants, so this is unique,” Aroui said. “They do a really good job, that’s why I’m here today.”
Jennifer Coliton, an employee at Skewerz and a UCF freshman majoring in elementary education, felt that the quality of the ingredients also helps the food to stand out.
“Everything we make is fresh; we don’t own a freezer in the place,” Coliton said. “None of the meats are frozen and stored. Everything you have is completely fresh. We make the dough right in front of your face, and we cook the meat right in front of your face.”
Skewerz has also recently begun serving breakfast, where customers can order scrambled egg wraps and pancakes.
Reich said that the establishment also plans on enhancing the menu even further in the near future.
“We’re gonna get into a dessert line once we hit the summer,” Reich said. “We wanna do s’mores, which we’ll do marshmallows on a skewer and offer it on the side with chocolate sauce, you know what I mean? So people can put it on there with a graham cracker laffa.”
Taking a look at the restaurant’s revenue, Reich feels like the hard work has paid off so far.
“I’m at 70 percent of my targeted number to reach as far as the sustaining amount that I’m comfortable with the possibility of a slight profit margin in there,” Reich said. “From opening, I was at roughly 50 percent. So I’ve grown 20 percent, and I’ve only been open now going on seven weeks, which is kinda huge.”
Skewerz has also recently added a card reader that accepts Knight Cash, which Reich thinks will help their business even further.
Though a profit is important to the restaurant’s success, Reich stressed that making good food comes first.
“I just want everyone to say that they loved it,” Reich said. “If I closed tomorrow because I couldn’t financially make it, I’ll always have the fact that it was the most favorite food on campus and that everybody loved. What else can a chef and an owner ask for?”
Reich said that Skewerz is currently seeking stability at UCF and that more success could mean branching out to several more locations nearby in the future.