BROOKSVILLE — A year ago, it was a partnership that showed promise and hope for Brooksville's all too sleepy downtown.
Jim Tsacrios was an enthusiastic landlord who invested hours of muscle and sweat to restore his grandfather's 1920s-era grocery store into a classy, well-appointed eatery. Udi Mekler was a world-class gourmet chef looking for the perfect place to create his Mediterranean and European-influenced cuisine.
The two men envisioned nothing but a rosy future for G.M.'s Bistro. Located across the street from the Hernando County Government Center, they counted on attracting a steady stream of government employees as breakfast and lunch customers. By night, it would be a destination restaurant that would beckon both local and out-of-town diners.
That air of optimism wouldn't last. Three months after its grand opening, G.M.'s Bistro's business partners were no longer speaking directly to one another.
Believing that Mekler had violated the terms of their partnership agreement, Tsacrios put a chain on the front door to prevent Mekler and his wife, Hope, from entering the building. The Meklers said they were forced to hire an attorney and go to court to have it removed.
Due to pending litigation, neither Mekler nor Tsacrios would discuss the details of their fractured business relationship. However, both agree that it is irreparable.
With their one-year lease about to expire, the Meklers decided in February that it was time to move on. On Tuesday, they will mark their final day with a farewell party for their customers.
The Meklers said that despite their troubles, they were always buoyed by the loyalty and support shown by their customers and staff.
"They helped us to make this place what it is," Hope Mekler said. "We only wish that things could have worked out better."
The Meklers, who moved to Brooksville in 2007 from South Florida, said they have no plans to leave. In fact, they are searching for another location, preferably in downtown Brooksville, to start a new restaurant.
"I still believe in this area," said Udi Mekler. "Things are beginning to happen here."
John Callea, owner of the Rising Sun Cafe, which is around the corner from G.M.'s Bistro, said the Meklers will be missed.
"They brought an air of sophistication that really fit with downtown Brooksville," Callea said. "What they offered brought people downtown that wouldn't normally have come."
Meanwhile, Tsacrios said that he intends to bring in new people to run G.M.'s Bistro.
"It will be similar cuisine, but with a lot of new items on the menu," he said. "I guarantee, people are not going to be disappointed."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.