Cult Followings

The Secret Ingredients That Work Every Time
By: Brooks Baptiste

Two Jacksonville Beach restaurants use secret ingredients that keep customers craving their food.

Mauricio Valderruten, owner of Shack Maui, says he envisioned the restaurant idea when he and his soccer teammates would get hungry at night and they didn’t have a lot of options.

“All that was open was McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Waffle House, ” Valderruten said. He knew it was time for something new so he opened his restaurant, Shack Maui.

Shack Maui hasn’t even be in business for a year, but already it has gained quite the cult following.

“Since January, I’ve probably been here about 40 or 50 times,” said Ian Coverdill, a frequent Shack Maui consumer.

“We’ve already had like 300 of our friends come out,” said Luke Wittig, who has been coming to Shack Maui since it first opened. He enjoys the vibe, “awesome people,” and says the burgers are the best in this city.

Valdureten says it’s all in the special pineapple sauce they put on most of their meals. “No one would expect pineapple sauce on a burger, quesadilla, [or] hot dog. Changes the taste differently, but in the best of ways,” said Valderruten.

Coverdill eats there often and says the flavor of the sauce is different, but it’s like “literal munchies food.”

Not far down the road, Ed Malin, owner of Angie’s Subs, says he came into the restaurant business to make his customers feel good. Each time a customer walks in, he wants them to gain a memorable experience.

“I put names to every ticket, so when you came in on your ticket it would say your name,” said Malin. He says these small things keep customers coming back. “I brought my service aspect, front of the house ideas to that little restaurant and it grew exponentially over the years.”

With many types to choose from, Angie’s would average 70 sandwiches a day, but now they make 1200 sandwiches on a busy day.

Malin says his secret isn’t in the type of sandwich. “You can buy the same salami, the same ham, the same Peruvian sauce, the same mayonnaise, the same cheese. It’s going to be the exact same sandwich we serve here.”

“What we do is…take that sandwich and add some “service” to it.”

Both restaurants are growing in hope to make an impact within the community.