& Coffee/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
CRACK'D Kitchen & Coffee Brings "Eggs-Cellence" to Dining Scene in Andover, Mass.
How this north-of-Boston eatery has taken breakfast and lunch to the next level...
Porcado Melt with cage free egg, cider pork, barbecue sauce, cheddar
cheese, smashed avocado on whole wheat toast.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 2/27/2020.
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Some people love to rise at
the crack of dawn to enjoy the moment before a peaceful world gives way
to a faster pace. Danny Azzarello is one of the people embracing
the crack of dawn (and earlier) but also loves
the cracking of eggs to start the day -- so much, he named his Andover,
Mass. restaurant, CRACK'D.
"The noise, the visual cracking of eggs is something I've always liked
-- when you get up in the morning, go downstairs and hear that noise,"
CRACK'D is all it is cracked up to be -- and then some. That cracking
sound, the sizzling of the grill and the machines brewing aromatic
set the familiarly wonderful morning tone for a one-of-a-kind breakfast
experience that also extends throughout the day. It is a
place to enjoy the staples of a classic breakfast place such as a huge
breakfast sandwich or pancakes -- the latter served with real maple
instead of the ubiquitous, watery artificial versions. CRACK'D also
transcends the most popular favorites by innovating at every
opportunity. Cereal Milk Latte would be a great example of this
creative commitment: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is marinated in milk
for a half hour with the flavored dairy then extracted and infused into
Frati -- a skilled, passionate and long-time local restaurant manager
and corporate executive -- have taken a gourmet
culinary-driven approach to their new restaurant, clearly avoiding
laying an egg with just another breakfast and lunch spot.
The CRACK'D co-founders have seen tremendous success with their eatery with
up to 400 customers frequenting the business in one day. Still, they
take nothing for granted.
"We are only as good as the last meal we cooked," said Azzarello. "We
have a great thing going here and are always finding ways to be even
with local companies reveals something special definitely going on here. Fresh
cage-free eggs come from Maine Family Farms, an association of 365
farms in Maine. No expense has been spared to serve the best-tasting
eggs as it costs CRACK'D $3.14 for a dozen. The eggs are delivered five
days a week
"They have a nice orange color and a nice egg white -- not soggy," said
Azzarello, of the eggs. "And you can taste the freshness."
Farm fresh eggs. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook fan page.
Iggy's Bread in Cambridge, Mass., delivers its delicious homemade
breads seven days a week to CRACK'D in
the form of Brioche, seven grain whole wheat, classic white and
sourdough baguette. The Applewood smoked bacon comes from
North Country Smokehouse
in Gilford, N.H.
Smoked Applewood bacon.
"It's really the best bacon that money can buy," said Azzarello. "The
taste is incredible!"
CRACK'D uses Vermont's Cabot Cheese and McCadam Cheese (based in
Chateaugay, N.Y. in the Adirondack Mountains near Quebec) for various
Moon Sweets, in New Boston,
N.H., delivers cookies and other sweets. Hometown Coffee Roasters in Manchester,
supplies the freshly-roasted coffee.
A nice cup of espresso.
What It Feels Like To Be At CRACK'DLocated on a
sunny side of Lowell Ave., the long, newly-constructed building brings
in plenty of
natural light from the windows, as well as plenty of customers looking
to run on something more standard than local breakfast restaurant or fast
food chain fare and drink. The first impression
hints at all the good things to follow with a full staff demonstrating
friendliness at the front order counter.
Front counter at CRACK'D.
While waiting at the front, the long counter by the window or in the
dining room area, the visuals lend a chicken-to-egg
theme that validate the CRACK'D theme and brand. Hanging egg lights under high industrial ceilings
brighten the scene...
Egg lights at CRACK'D.
while chicken wire lights lend further ambiance...
Chicken wire light.
A huge rooster and egg mural take up most of one wall...
Appealing art work on a wall.
The open kitchen gives transparency to customers...
A look at the open kitchen at CRACK'D.
and Azzarello works alongside his prized staff to guide, collaborate
and keep things upbeat. By the way, Frati's wife,
Meghan (pictured above, right) works at the restaurant as does
Azzarello's spouse, Emma, who he
first met while working at Outback Steakhouse 15 years ago.
"It's so nice to have a great partner who understands your vision," said
Azzarello, of Emma.
A superb communicator, manager and living proof that nice guys can
Azzarello loves his work so much that often he smiles spontaneously
with nothing more than recognizing the gift of life and the importance
of enjoying the moment to motivate himself...
Azzarello in the open kitchen.
His upbeat tone translates to staff and customers -- even if the latter
waiting for their meals...
Waiting for yummy meals.
"We prioritize the overall experience," said Azzarello. "From staff to
customer, we want everyone to enjoy being here. That is most important."
And Now For The Feature Presentation... The Food (And Drinks)!
Breakfast and lunch sandwiches from CRACK'D. Photo source:
CRACK'D Facebook page.
CRACK'D offers a wide variety of egg sandwiches, bowls, plates
and toast (including yummy pancakes), greens and grains, and sides like
bacon, sausage, hash browns, sweet potato hash and scrambled eggs.
Lunch attains the high standards of breakfast items here, too. A prime
example: The Deano 'The Butcher' (named after Danny and Emma's son, Dean) --
a huge steak burger with a cage-free egg, cheddar cheese, tomato,
iceberg lettuce and BAM sauce (more on that shortly) on Brioche bread.
Burger from CRACK'D.
drinks list is ambitious, too, with house coffees, coffee
drinks, smoothies, liquid desserts with a frozen yogurt base, and
chillers like Passion Lemonade (passionfruit iced tea and
Iced coffee from CRACK'D. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook page.
The drinks here are just as important as our food program," said
Pomegranate cider. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook page.
Dishes like The Porker represent the gourmet greatness at CRACK'D.
amazing selection includes a cage-free egg, house-made sausage,
maple mustard and caramelized onions on brioche.
The Porker. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook page.
Another worthy item:
Porcado Melt with cage free egg, cider pork, barbecue sauce,
cheddar cheese and smashed avocado on whole wheat toast. Let's take a look at this breakfast
Pancakes with fresh fruit, whipped cream and coconutmake for a most tempting dish...
Pancake dish. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook fan page.
The Sunny Chorizo Bowl features a cage-free sunny egg, chorizo, spinach, pepper and
sweet potato hash, tomato, feta and onion...
Sunny chorizo bowl.
The Acai Super Berry Bowl is a masterful blend of acai, blueberry, strawberry, banana, granola, chia seeds and honey...
Acai Bowl. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook page.
The popular Avocado Toast consists of smashed avocado,
toasted cauliflower, honey sriracha, Narragansett feta (brined in salt water) and seven grain toast, while
the Banana Toast has almond butter, banana, toasted almonds, chia
seeds, honey and seven grain toast.
Avocado toast and banana toast. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook
The Country Mac and Cheese is a twist on the classic pasta dish. It
contains cheese sauce, egg noodles, spinach, tomato, feta and bread
The Country Mac and Cheese Bowl. Photo source: CRACK'D Facebook fan page.
CRACK'D also serves fresh salads like this Harvest Salad with spinach,
kale, butternut squash, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, apples and
cheddar cheese -- with maple mustard vinaigrette on the side.
Even the little things add up to something substantial. CRACK'D makes
it own homemade sauces: cracked ketchup, maple
mustard, honey sriracha and "BAM!" which is a mix of all the
three sauces plus relish. A sauce accompanies each meal.
Homemade sauces from CRACK'D
"It all kind of happened by accident," said Azzarello. "We mixed
all three sauces together and thought, 'Hey, we got something here!".
The Road That Led To Opening CRACK'D
Serving up a dish at CRACK'D.
grew up in Medford, Mass., and started working in the restaurant
industry at 10-years-old at his aunt's restaurant, Maria's in North
Reading, Mass. He worked at Espresso Pizza in Medford during his teen
and then went right to work in the food industry after graduating
Medford High School.
He worked at Outback Steak House and The Cheesecake Factory (including
a valuable stint at its research and
development facility in California.). Azzarello built and honed his craft for more than a decade at
Burtons Grill, Red Heat Tavern and Evviva Cucina (Westford, Mass.), all owned by Kevin Harron. Azzarello worked
way from sous chef to executive chef to culinary director.
"My business knowledge was gained at Burtons," said Azzarello. "Kevin
is a very respected entrepreneur and gave me the freedom to build my
concept was in the back of Azzarello and Fratis' minds for a few years
with the thoughts of roosting a restaurant specializing in
breakfast sandwiches that offered convenience with
"Then, we just got to the point where we said 'Let's just do this!'"
said Azzarello. "We knocked on a lot of doors and found investors who
liked the brand and made sure they believed in us. It was certainly
unique to the market."
After working on a detailed business plan for a year-and-one-half and
seeing the vision turn to reality, CRACK'D opened in late March 2019.
As a foundation to the fabulous
food, Azzarello and Frati have fostered a small business that values a
positive culture and energy, operational excellence, innovation and
giving back to the community.
"It's all a matter of driving toward excellence," said Azzarello. "For
Alan and I, it was important to have a staff that could become engaged
in the work and culture here whether in high school or at 28 looking for a
career. We want our employees to be healthy and have good benefits and
enjoy life at work and outside work. We work with employees to empower
themselves and be passionate, knowledgeable and friendly. That's a
win-win for all of us."
The CRACK'D sense of work community, as stated on this wall.
Mother and daughter enjoy a meal at CRACK'D.
The CRACK'D concept is a brilliant one, paying close attention to
every element that makes a highly likable restaurant. The partnerships
with quality local businesses, the skill set to do something special
with those foods and drinks, and the genuine, upbeat atmosphere amongst
customers and staff virtually bring about a smile upon the first step
into the eatery. Talk about a great vibe!
Good value for the money is an important reminder, too, that a strong
business with a foot in the gourmet genre does not have to be greedy.
So many places with the word "gourmet" charge whatever they feel like,
all in the name of an upscale adjective and the mighty buck. Azzarello
is more transparent and much kinder to his customers. As an example, he
recently got a nice price break on hash browns and passed those savings
along to the customer instead of opting to create a big profit for
himself. At CRACK'D, the good values and character as just as
transparent as the open kitchen.
The big menu with fabulous food that caters to everyone (including
gluten-free offerings), an owner who truly cares about his employees
and a lovable egg theme all make for a place that, to no surprise, has
many people stopping by on a regular basis.
"Overall experience is so
important to us," said Azzarello. "Look at
the world today, how everything is instant. For us, we had to come up
with something convenient while maintaining the quality. I believe we
have achieved that and the customers really seems to be enjoying it
located at 319 Lowell St. in Andover, MA. Tel.
Web site: https://www.crackdkitchen.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/crackdkitchen/
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/crackdkitchen/
- Friday 6:30 a.m.- 6p.m.
Saturday - 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday 7 a.m. - 2p.m.
Parking garage available
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