Matt Djerf helped Shannon Yates start the Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, almost 10 years ago in Cape Coral, as his first employee. Now, Djerf will be carrying on the legacy of his mentor.
Yates died in August at age 49, due to complications from COVID-19.
Djerf, 32, was named the new executive chef at the restaurant and bar, at 927 Cape Coral Parkway. The ‘D’ in his last name is silent, so it’s pronounced like ‘Jerf.’
“I’ve known him since I was a kid,” Djerf said of Yates. “I first started working with him about 12 years ago, doing catering for the Boston Red Sox.”
When Yates opened Nevermind in November 2012, Djerf started as a dishwasher. He eventually moved on to working at other restaurants before returning to Nevermind a few months before Yates died.
Yates built Nevermind into destination dining. He drew patrons not just from Cape Coral but from across the river in Fort Myers and surrounding areas.
“When I left, I took what he taught me to other places,” Djerf, an Ida Baker High School, graduate, said. “He wanted everybody to see food the way he saw food.”
Now Djerf inherits the task of maintaining the legacy of Yates while also putting his own stamp on it. Djerf started by tweaking the menu, broadening it from burgers and bar fare.
“We will keep the same lamb burgers, crab rolls and wings, but we will bring in some salads and different pasta dishes,” Djerf said. He’s also introducing flatbreads to the menu. “That was something he wanted before he passed.”
Djerf also wants to continue Yates’ tradition of bringing in guest chefs from other restaurants.
“Shannon was a genius when it came to marketing,” Djerf said. “He would market other people becase he wanted their businesses to do well. He put Cape Coral on the map with good food.”