At the corner of Adams and Jefferson streets in the heart of downtown Tallahassee sits a local restaurant that has been in business for nearly half a century. Andrew’s sits in the shadows of the state Capitol building — a building that hadn’t even been built by time Andrew’s opened its doors and served its first lunch.
“The Capitol was just a hole in the ground,” remembers owner Andy Reiss. “We’ve been around longer than the new Capitol. I was 23. I just turned 70.”
And if its walls could talk they would likely tell stories of ideas that eventually became laws, significant laws, in the state.
“About 15 years ago, the Miami Herald had us as the number one power lunch spot in the state of Florida,” Reiss proudly boasts. “If you walk in here during the Legislature, it’s happening. It’s happening.”
Within the same downtown block are located the centers of local government — Tallahassee City Hall and the Leon County Courthouse.
With a clientele that revolves around state and local government, Reiss came up with the idea about 20 years ago to start naming items on his menu for the politicians and officials who were often his clientele.
Over the years, there were the “Reubin” Askew and the Bob “Graham-burger,” named for the former governors. Another of Reiss’ favorites was the John “French Dip,” named for a well-known Tallahassee lobbyist.
The names change as elected officials come and go with elections and that can deflate egos of elected officials who leave office. And that can cause problems for Reiss.
“When they are no longer elected, they want to keep their items,” Reiss said. “Sorry.”
Coming off the 2018 election and a new batch of elected officials taking office, Reiss on Tuesday unveiled his latest menu featuring a new set of names. It was a debut that featured many of the namesakes of the menu items sampling the meals named for them.
What’s on the menu?
If you’re really hungry, there is the “Gov. (Ron) DeSantis Delicious Salad Bar Buffet.” The governor wasn’t able to attend the unveiling, but his lieutenant governor was. Jeannete Nuñez tried out the “Lt, Governor Nuñez Pastrami Miami Dip. It marks the first time on the menu for Nuñez who served the past eight years in the Florida House.
“This is the first time. I guess I’ve arrived,” declared Nuñez.
Former House Speaker and Florida State University President John Thrasher has had menu items named for him in the past, but they have been burgers or sandwiches. Tuesday he sampled the new “Thrasher’s Seminole Powerball Salad.”
“I got a dadgum salad,” said the 75-year-old Thrasher. “I figure it’s because I’m getting old and they want me to be healthier. But, I just stole half of Sen. Gibson’s cheeseburger and I’m looking forward to eating it.”
Sen. Audrey Gibson is the Senate Democratic leader. Her menu item is named the “Sen. Gibson Cheesy Burger.” In a display of bipartisanship, Gibson offered Thrasher, a Republican, half of her burger.
“I’m looking forward to eating this cheeseburger,” Thrasher proclaimed turning away from his power salad.
Other items on the restaurant’s new menu include “Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Peach & Prosciutto Caprese,” “CFO Patronis’ Turkey Burger” and the “AG Commissioner Fried’s Grouper Sandwich.”
Legislative leaders are also honored with dishes such as “Speaker Oliva’s Smoking-Hot Sandwich” and “Senate President Galvano’s Great Kimchi Salmon Burger.”
The new menu comes just before the start of the 2019 legislative session. The restaurant makes 40 percent of its annual revenue during the two month session.
“Since we opened Andrew’s more than 40 years ago, customers have felt at home as soon as they walked through the door or sat on the patio. Recognizing local and state leaders is one way we show our patrons that we care about them and we care about our community,” Reiss said.