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Fat Katz Slider Bar at University Village in Estero

About 10 years ago, Fat Katz Sports Bistro opened in Fort Myers. Five years later, sister restaurant Skinny Dogz Brunchery opened in Gateway. Now, the beginning of what may be further expansion for the brand opened in University Village in Estero.

Fat Katz Slider Bar opened in Suite 200 in University Village, bringing favorite foods many have grown to love, alongside a new setup.

A yellow accent wall, local brewery logos and seven TV screens brighten up the industrial-style interior of the slider bar. The new Fat Katz seats 42 people inside, which is about 250 square feet smaller than Fat Katz Sports Bistro, and another 24 outside.

What owner Gregg Buell and managing partner Adam Paukowits want to make clear is White Castle sliders are the furthest from what to expect when visiting the restaurant. The sliders are scaled-down versions of the original burgers Fat Katz offers, a concept Buell and Paukowits stumbled upon while eating at the first location with their wives.

“My wife and I split sandwiches [at Fat Katz] because it’s half-pound burgers and basically half-pound chicken breasts,” Buell said. “It’s huge and it’s awesome, but now instead of splitting a burger, a chicken sandwich or a fish sandwich, we just figured it’d be cool if there’s a place we can go to get a chicken sandwich or a burger and just trim it down.”

Those who frequent Fat Katz will be met with the same quality and freshness at the slider bar, considering everything is made in-house with Buell’s recipes. “They do all the labor over [at Fat Katz]. So they make the brioche buns in the morning, they grind all the meat, they make the homemade pierogis,” Paukowits said. “All the prep that goes into it, that’s a lot of man hours.” Fat Katz Slider Bar at University Village in Estero

Fan favorites like the Western, the Bistro and Nashville Hot appear on the new location’s menu. Accompanying a variety of hand-held dishes and wings, the new location has 10 craft beers on tap, with domestic beer, seltzer and wine options. Another fan favorite offered is the White Hot Shrimp, one of Fat Katz’s best sellers.

“The white sauce, it’s a homemade cream sauce that’s just exploding with flavor,” Paukowits said. “Then they do a little Sriracha drizzle, gives a little heat over the top and some garlic toast points around so you can soak up all the sauce.”

Aside from what regulars are used to, the sports bistro brings something new to the table with weekly specials. Gregg’s Homemade Taco Salad is a special expected to be a big hit, featuring taco meat, homemade tortilla chips and catalina dressing.

The new location will be a test run to see how the scaled-down food of the original restaurant works for future expansion of the brand.

“We’re looking where we can expand and keep opening more,” Buell said. “If this works out, it’s kind of one of our things where we can have this cookie cutter type that can fit into a strip mall.”

Scaling down may not only lead to further expansion, but also gives patrons the opportunity to try more of Fat Katz signature food. “You can try two, three different sandwiches in one visit as opposed to having one thing and saying that’s great,” Buell said. “You can try the menu in [fewer] visits as opposed to just eating one sandwich. There’s a nice variety of burgers, sandwiches, chicken wings and dogs you just mix and match.”

Fat Katz Slider Bar is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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