Make us your home page

Brooksville restaurant relocates but retains down-home cuisine

BROOKSVILLE — Five years ago, four Brooksville friends — all of them dedicated food enthusiasts — decided it was time to put their cooking passion to work, and they launched a catering company that specialized in down-home Southern cuisine.

From a kitchen in the back of St. Anthony Catholic Church, the quartet prepared mouth-watering family recipe-inspired fare like baked chicken, barbecue ribs, fried catfish and red potato salad that wowed guests at weddings, parties and holiday get-togethers.

In November, the owners of Southern Ladies and a Gent decided to spread their culinary joy even further by opening a cozy downtown restaurant in the historic Jennings Building. For the most part, things went well, as more and more customers came in to sample what the new establishment had to offer.

But after eight months, owners Robert Smith, Nikki Stanford, Shirlee Hodge and Cheri Kripps discovered what a lot of downtown business owners have long known: Convenient parking isn't easy to find. The lack of consistent parking was probably the largest complaint from customers, according to Stanford.

"We knew we were going to have to do something about that if we were going to survive serving breakfast, lunch and dinner," she said. "We had to find another location or face the fact that we would probably never grow."

Relaunched last week in the former home of John's Corner Family Restaurant on S Broad Street, the Southern Ladies and a Gent owners said the move provided them an opportunity to make some subtle changes. While the eatery's main focus will still be on serving hearty breakfast items such as layered French toast ($7.99) and dinner favorites such as country-fried steak ($7.99), they decided to retain select traditional Romanian dishes from the establishment's previous owners.

"We're lucky in that we inherited a lot of John's Corner's former customers, who loved things like knackwurst and stuffed cabbage," Stanford said. "Since we have kitchen staff who know the former owner's recipes, we decided to offer them."

Stanford said that while the restaurant may have a new address, she and her partners intend to continue their tradition of sticking to scratch-made cooking.

"All of us know that you can't take shortcuts without hurting quality," Stanford said. "We've always had pride in being able to tell customers that everything, including things like tartar sauce, salad dressing and remoulade, are made in-house."

Stanford said that while the restaurant's new menu leans heavily on favorites, customers arriving to dine are likely to find a lot more freshly created daily specials than before.

"People have their favorite foods, the comfort foods that they go to again and again, but a good restaurant is also a place where you should expect exciting variety as well," she said. "We want to be a restaurant where you will find both."

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

Southern Ladies and a Gent is at 711 S Broad St. in Brooksville. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Saturday. Call (352) 593-4165.

About this feature

Things to Do publishes a periodic feature called "What's Cooking," a look at some of Hernando County's favorite dining spots. We welcome recommendations from readers. If you have a place in mind for us to visit, please drop us a line at What's Cooking, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613, or email your suggestion to Be sure to include the name and address of the restaurant and a brief description of what you like about it.

Brooksville restaurant relocates but retains down-home cuisine 08/05/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 5, 2013 6:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease


    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Taco and Beer Fiesta set for St. Pete, followed by the Ooze and Booze Fest

    Food & Dining

    The Gulf to Bay Food Truck association recently announced a trio of events for mobile comfort food lovers.

    These kimchi topped tacos will be served by Anju Korean Gastrotruck. [Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association]
  3. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson can't keep 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' on-target


    The Hitman's Bodyguard is an assault tank on semi-automatic pilot, spraying jokes and bullets with only the ammo consistently hitting its targets. The irresistible teaming of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson might be even funnier if they missed once in a while.

    Samuel L. Jackson plays a master assassin testifying against a dictator, and Ryan Reynolds plays a bodyguard tasked with keeping him alive.
  4. 8 things to do in Tampa Bay on Aug. 17


    Clearwater Threshers: vs. St. Lucie Mets: For "Taps and Tacos" night, 16 local craft beers on tap near the Tijuana Flats kiosk, located on the concourse along the third-base line. 7 p.m., Spectrum Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. $6-$10. (727) 467-4457.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow during the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Monday, August 14, 2017, in Clearwater, Fla. Monday night was Tim Tebow's 30th Birthday Party celebration.
  5. What's new in theaters: 'The Hitman's Bodyguard,' 'Logan Lucky,' 'Wind River'




    Loving the trailer for The Hitman's Bodyguard (R) poking fun at quotes from reviewers prone to phrases like "It's a roller coaster ride!" for better chances to see their names in TV ads.

    Salma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson in The Hitman’s Bodyguard.