Casa Ybel Resort welcomes new food and beverage director
Michael Allen, Casa Ybel Resort’s newest food and beverage director is no stranger to the hospitality industry. Before joining the resort’s team on Aug. 27, Allen worked as a property manager for luxury condos in Tampa.
Prior to that, he served in the military for 10 years. After leaving the military, Allen became a flight attendant for Air Force One, where he prepared meals for vice presidents and their families, the secretary of defense, his crew and many others.
“No two flights are the same in the Air Force – you actually have to go and shop for each flight for the meals. It’s not like a restaurant where you have a set menu,” Allen said. “It was there I picked up the skills and knowledge for the food and beverage industry.”
While he was in the Air Force, Allen also worked with Chris Kyler who appeared on “Comeback Kitchen” and “Food Network Star.”
“Before he did any of that, I ran his mobile kitchens out of Virginia in the D.C. area and I did the events with his mobile kitchens,” Allen said. “I have a pretty good background when it comes to food.”
Allen received bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Phoenix and a bachelors degree in aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle.
Allen’s position at the resort includes overseeing all the restaurants, weddings, catering and other special events. By December, he hopes to reveal a new menu for the Thistle Lodge and Coconuts. He said the menu will stay the same for the most part
“There’s a couple cool, different things we’re bringing that are very wild,” Allen said.
Allen is also looking at adding a lounge with live music, cocktails and tapas to the restaurant.
“That’s something to look forward to early next year,” he said. “Even though it’s in the Thistle Lodge, the bar will have its own identity. When you come in next year, the Thistle Lodge, when you first walk in, is going to be a completely new experience.”
Allen is also planning to incorporate breakfast and brunch buffets to their standard breakfast menu on Saturdays and Sundays.
“They’re going to be at a price point that will be accessible to everybody. Our chefs will actually be here, manning the stations,” Allen said.
In addition to changing up the menu and including a new lounge, Allen plans on holding monthly events for the public at the resort. Some of those events include movie nights, a “Toast of the Islands”, an adult prom and wine dinners.
Allen said the wine dinners will be limited to about 20 people.
“They will be very upscale and will have very limited seating for very unique and one-off experiences. It will be tailored by the chef,” he said.
During the second week of December, Allen said the resort will hold their first annual International Food & Wine Festival. He said the event will be a scaled down version of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World in Orlando.
“We want to be able to share the resort,” Allen said. “We want to give the public a taste of that island beach life.”
Allen also plans on making a mark in the community. Last month, the resort participated in the March of Dimes fundraiser, and next month, the resort will be partnering with Mercedes-Benz of Bonita Springs and a myriad of other restaurants for the “First Bite” Menu Release Party. All proceeds go directly to the Naples and Gulf Coast Humane Societies.
“I’m a proponent of getting out there in the community and giving back as well,” Allen said.