Opportunity knocked twice for Philip Renaud and wife Tammy.
Renaud has worked for the last 12 years in the Boston area as a wine consultant and restaurant designer specializing in custom wine cellars. He said a few years ago he and his wife started looking to acquire their own restaurant. The couple's dream was to find "a small place near the water on Florida’s west coast," where he could feature some of his special recipes and share his love of good wine.
The couple started their search along the Sunshine State’s Gulf coast, looking at places from Clearwater to Fort Myers.
Fate had bigger ideas. In October, he was able to acquire two already popular full-service restaurants near the water, in downtown Dunedin.
"It’s a five-minute walk from the water. I can just stroll down to the water and smell the salt air. I’m still trying to get around to meet everyone," he said.
Renaud noted both restaurants have a great group of staff and mangers. This year, Dunedin Smokehouse's staff won first place in Dunedin Patch’s Readers Choice Contest for its customer service, and the restaurant's wings captured top honors at the Dunedin Blue Jays' Wing Night Competition for a second year in a row.
“Both restaurants are completely different and already working very well, so we are not looking to make any big changes," Renaud said. "We can offer some fresh ideas and take it to the next level when it comes to design, menu choices and daily specials.”
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Will the Menus Change?
The Smokehouse has already become famous among barbecue enthusiasts for its signature Montreal Beef and sliced brisket dinners, slow-smoked St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken and rainbow trout, and side items like smoked gouda macaroni and cheese, sweet potato fries and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
Renaud plans to add specialty half-pound burgers and items such as Brunswick Stew made with wild boar sausage.
The Living Room features full dinners and a tapas-style menu, with items such as seared yellow fin tuna on flatbread, sesame shrimp tempura and herb crusted Angus Beef tenderloin filet.
He said he'll keep the popular menu items, and increase the wine list.
"I want to ... build a specially designed wine cellar in the middle of the dining room, where people can buy some really fine affordable wines."
What About the Atmosphere?
"We are going to keep the basic rockabilly, blues and classic rock musical theme at the Smokehouse and jazzy flavor at The Living Room," Renaud said.
He said he may add Key West-Caribbean and '50s- and '60s-themed nights at the Smokehouse, add landscaping and special lighting on the patio and revamp Ladies' Night.
Renaud said he'll also carry on with community activities. After all, what impressed him most is Dunedin's "strong sense of community, where everyone works together and has been so welcoming."
Renaud said in Boston, he held fundraisers for childhood cancer, and he would like to get both restaurants involved in some local fundraising efforts and community events.
He has already joined the Dunedin Downtown Merchants Association and plans to participate in Dunedin Chamber and downtown activities.