By Molly McGowan
Mark Vesh has a catchy last name that lends itself well to a catering company title like “Catered by Vesh,” and looks smart on embellished business cards. And now, Vesh has his own restaurant.
Though he has been catering since he worked at Amelia Island Plantation near Jacksonville five years ago, Vesh recently took over the grill at The Groves Golf and Country Club in Land O’ Lakes.
Catered by Vesh at The Groves sports a menu that is sure to satisfy the resident or visitor craving either classic country club cuisine or something a little more adventurous. For example, some of the local favorites are the crab cake sandwich and the Angus burger, to which Vesh has managed to add some flair. The “Vesh Burger” ditches regular American cheese for House Boursin cheese instead. There’s also the chicken cordon bleu, and a Happy Hour that lasts from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 2-5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Since the fare preferred by local clientele is more casual than that of his catering jobs, it’s clear that Vesh has become a multifaceted chef – a result of apprenticing with chefs from all over the world.
In his culinary adventures, Vesh has worked at The Ritz Carlton Resorts, the Greenbrier Country Club and Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Resort in Wesley Chapel, gleaning multiple techniques from the multiple chefs with whom he worked.
Vesh says that doing so introduced him to various preparation styles and different cuisine specialties, which helped him to grow as a chef.
And while he enjoys his new position at The Groves, Vesh appreciates the diversity of his catering business. With a staff of 12, Catered by Vesh delivers everything from seven-course wine dinners to casual corporate picnics. Vesh says there is frequent demand for seafood preparations by his catering business, and one of his creative “stations” – where food is prepared in front of guests – offers sushi. Also popular are carving and action stations, though Vesh’s favorite is the pasta station.
“You can really customize each order,” he said, listing pesto, vodka and alfredo sauces as just a few of the elements of a tailored pasta station plate.
Vesh says that as far as his catering business is concerned, he wants to work on booking larger events. “I want to focus on weddings, social catering,” he said, indicating that he already had a few corporate contracts lined up.
Vesh says he is also planning to launch a school lunch catering service to area private schools.
Between catering gigs, though, Vesh wants to bring more people into his restaurant at The Groves. Though the current clientele mostly consists of the country club’s residents, the restaurant is open to the public.
“People seem to think that because there’s a guard at the gate [of The Groves], we’re not open,” Vesh says, and that is not the case.
To draw in more customers and to entertain his regulars, Vesh has theme nights on Tuesdays such as New Orleans Night, with a menu including jambalaya, red beans and rice, fried okra and tilapia in a Cajun wine sauce.
For an inexpensive buffet accompanied by singing, Karaoke Nights at the restaurant are on Thursdays, and Sunday brunch is only $10. Another new feature coming soon to the restaurant is the ability to do package sales, allowing customers to take home the open wine bottles that they ordered with dinner. Vesh hopes that this, accompanied by the already-established full bar services, will draw more people into the restaurant. Once that’s done, he can rely on the food he serves to keep his customers coming back for more.
For more information, or to make a reservation at Catered by Vesh at The Groves, call (813) 996-1838. A full menu is available at www.thegrovesgolfandcountryclub.com/HOA/dining.html.