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. Pasco libraries offer relief from the heat with reading programs, activities


    HOLIDAY — Angelina Ponzo has a goal this summer: to read as many books as possible.

    Alexis Ponzo, left, uses watercolor crayons to draw a heart tattoo on her daughter Angelina's arm during a recent summer reading program event at Centennial Park Library in Holiday. Local libraries are hosting reading programs and a variety of educational, entertaining and family friendly events throughout the summer months.
  2. Want to feel old? It's been 20 years since the first 'Harry Potter' was published


    He was so cute: Blond hair, blue eyes and a killer smile. He was dressed in a black robe with a fake scar on his forehead and regaling our fifth-grade class with his book report on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a 10-year-old with only the most sophisticated of tastes (give me a Baby-Sitters Club any day), …

    An auctioneer holds a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" containing annotations and illustrations by author J.K. Rowling. The tale has turned 20,  published in Britain on June 26, 1997. Since then, it has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. (Associated Press [2013])
  3. Restaurant review: Deccan Spice in Feather Sound is a gateway to the allures of Indian cuisine

    Food & Dining


    Feather Sound's Tru Lounge, which was Flo Lounge before that, morphed into Grand Siam in 2012, a giant Thai restaurant owned by the folks who had Ban Thai restaurants in Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon and Lakeland. It was lavish with dramatic fluted chandeliers and a long, polished wood sushi bar, but it …

    Some of the selections at a recent lunch buffet at Deccan Spice included chicken biryani, gobi masala and murgh masala.
  4. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders will be your new favorite go-to


    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  5. Who topped the Billboard charts 35 years ago? Paul and Stevie, of course


    We really did have it so much better in the early ‘80s. Just check out the Billboard top 5 songs for the week of June 26, 1982.