DADE CITY — Eighteen years ago, Gail Greenfelder rescued an old Ford repair shop that was slated for demolition.
The result of her work was Kafe Kokopelli. Divided by old French doors, decorated with garlands of dried flowers and vines, a rock fireplace in the corner, stuffed moose and deer heads, and an eclectic array of chairs, the restaurant defied a label.
"We created a place like Cheers," said Greenfelder, who along with her lawyer husband, Glen, was a fixture at the restaurant. "A place where everybody knows your name."
Last week, Greenfelder gave up what she called "my baby," selling the business to Steven Queen Jr., a 28-year-old executive chef who has worked at fine restaurants in Washington, D.C.
"If you saw me yesterday, I was blubbering," Greenfelder said.
Terms were not disclosed, but Greenfelder described it as "a fair deal." She and her husband will continue to own the downtown building and land.
Greenfelder said she had received countless offers over the years to buy her out, but she wasn't interested. Now that she and her husband are older — he's 70, she's 67 — she said she wanted to "slow down" a little.
Queen, who bought the business with his father, Lake Jovita businessman Steven Queen Sr., said he plans to maintain the flavor of the place, with its taxidermy, including a jaguar that once performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. The elder Queen will handle administrative chores.
"It's good food, and it's affordable food," said the younger Queen, who graduated from Sickles High's culinary arts school and went on to earn a degree at Johnson & Wales University in Miami. Some changes will happen. Menu items will be updated and some new items will be offered. But he plans to keep signature favorites like fried green tomatoes. He also wants to create some food and wine pairings and food and beer pairings.
Next year, he would like to have an Oktoberfest.