BROOKSVILLE — Ten years ago, Lisa Callea saw great potential in an old warehouse building at 10 S Main St. in the heart of Brooksville's business district.
Her goal: to offer an alternative to the downtown office crowd that had been deprived of the big-city Starbucks experience. In addition to top-notch coffees, cappuccino and lattes, the menu offered breakfast and lunch fare with a nod to healthy choices such as fresh salads, homemade soups and vegetarian dishes.
Callea who was later joined in the venture by her husband, John, also had another vision: to create a ministry and an outreach program that would serve the community's needy and homeless population. However, as time went by, the energetic couple found that running a full-time business along with their busy Love Your Neighbor ministry was an all-consuming proposition. A few weeks ago, they decided it was time to make a change.
"I decided to follow my heart," Lisa Callea said earlier this week.
From now on, she intends to put all of her energy into Love Your Neighbor and will manage full time its Donation Station thrift shop on Jefferson Street. Meanwhile, John Callea has taken a job with a financial firm in Spring Hill.
Come July 7, the venue is set to reopen under a new name, Rising Sun Bistro and Market, with partners Criss Holzaepfel and Catherine Reeves taking the reins of the popular establishment. The women, who are good friends with the Calleas, say their intent is to retain the Rising Sun's charm and ambience while adding a little more of a causal bistro feel.
"It's one of the best-known restaurants in the county, and it has a loyal customer base," Holzaepfel said. "We intend to keep the things that made it popular, and add some other things that we hope will attract new customers as well."
In addition to creating a new, simpler food menu, Holzaepfel, 52, and Reeves, 48, plan to sell craft beers and locally produced wine, something the Calleas, both of whom are devout Christians, never chose to explore.
While the women acknowledge they've never run a dining establishment, Holzaepfel and Reeves claim they are fast learners and expect to acclimate themselves quickly to the fast-paced business.
"I know it gets hectic," said Holzaepfel, who owns a goat farm near Floral City and has sold her Woodapple Farms Soaps at the Rising Sun for a number of years. "We've asked some of the employees to stay on, and that's going to help a lot.
Holzaepfel said that while the restaurant will continue to offer gallery space for local artists, it will be somewhat more limited in an effort to give the displayed works more attention.
While Holzaepfel and Reeves admit that neither of them likely would have taken on the task of running a restaurant a couple of years ago, both feel they have reached a point in their lives to explore such a venture.
"Our children are grown, and we have very strong support from our families to do this," Reeves said. "It was an opportunity we didn't want to pass up."
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.