The phone call came unexpectedly in October.
In passing, Curtis Beebe had told the owners of City Market Bistro that if they ever wanted to sell, he and his wife Rebecca might be interested.
Within days of the call, Rebecca’s at City Market was signed, sealed and delivered.
By November, the Beebe’s were off and running with their third restaurant in four years. And, they were betting on a bright future for downtown Dade City, which is experiencing a renaissance of restaurants and shops.
“It’s exciting, and I’m investing in it, obviously,” Curtis Beebe said.
Taking chances is nothing new for this couple.
They opened their first restaurant – The Pearl in the Grove – on rural St. Joe Road in Saint Joseph, amid kumquats, horses, cows and hayfields.
The restaurant recently earned a Golden Spoon from Florida Trend magazine, which praised the originality of its farm-to-table cuisine.
LOCAL Public House and Provisions is a gastro-pub in San Antonio with New Orleans flavored comfort food and craft beers.
Rebecca’s at City Market, at 14148 Eighth St., in Dade City, is starting with the former City Market Bistro’s menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas, and slowly introducing new dishes.
Each of the couple’s ventures shares the same philosophy. And, as Curtis Beebe put it: “Local is better.”
What goes on the plate comes as much a possible from freshly grown and produced locally, including pasture-fed beef.
Fish is from a local vendor, bread from an Ybor City bakery, and vegetables from local growers.
“It is all custom made,” he said.
If Curtis Beebe stands out as the prime chef in the family-owned restaurants, Rebecca Beebe is just as hands-on behind the scenes.
“Rebecca has the ability to taste food and know exactly what it needs,” her husband said. And, she’s been known to toss out recipes that don’t meet her standards.
The restaurant that bears her name is no different.
She spends her days teaching at Pasco Middle School and her nights overseeing the details of running three restaurants.
That includes menu selections, the menu design, and pitching in to help with food preparations.
In the next semester, she plans to take a sabbatical from teaching to focus more on the newest restaurant acquisition.
Downtown Dade City is an opportunity to broaden the customer base.
Pearl in the Grove is an off-the-beaten path kind of restaurant.
In downtown Dade City, though, “We get way more walk-in traffic. We have the ability to serve a broader range of food. There is something for everyone,” Curtis Beebe said.
The restaurant attracts a family crowd.
“It’s classic and comfortable,” said Rebecca Beebe.
The Beebes both grew up in foodie families.
“My mother cooked everything from scratch,” said Rebecca Beebe. “We both cooked with our mothers.”
And, wherever they lived, the Beebes picked up new flavors and recipes from Tex-Mex to Native American.
Curtis Beebe had a long-time career in the corporate world of information technology, but the economy’s downturn in 2007 left him jobless. And then, set him on a different path.
He began catering dinners, parties and special events, and getting positive feedback on his menus.
Members of the Dade City Woman’s Club were among his first taste testers.
“That’s how we validated all this and thought we could make a living,” he said.
He doesn’t miss his past working life.
“This is much more fulfilling,” he said.
It has been a right-time, right-place experience in eastern Pasco County. New families, including millennials, are moving to the area, he said.
“They are all looking for authentic experiences,” Curtis Beebe said. “You can get it in towns like San Antonio, St. Joe and Dade City. There is a lot of cool stuff happening, which makes more opportunities,” he said.
Could there be a fourth restaurant in their future?
“We’re not looking, but we weren’t looking when we found this (Rebecca’s),” he said.
If there is another restaurant, Rebecca Beebe said, “We’ll have to call it Serendipity.”
Published January 20, 2016