The new Black-owned restaurant Kezzy’s Bistro & Bar has found a home in Governors Square Mall.
Owned and operated by husband and wife Mack and Keziah Gentry, Kezzy’s Bar & Bistro opened its doors for a soft launch in late August. With plans to get their feet wet before their grand opening in October, the Gentrys have dedicated countless hours to perfecting their food and space.
Keziah, who the restaurant is named after, spoke about the long months that led to the soft opening of the restaurant.
“When you hear restaurant you think it’s almost impossible to pull it off with a T-Mobile salary and your husband having two jobs,” she said. “Even though we both made great money, the goal was to not live paycheck to paycheck. So, I kept thinking to myself. ‘Should I even start this restaurant?’”
Despite the initial hesitation, the couple took the leap. Fueled by Keziah’s need for a career change, the duo combined their interpersonal skills, work experience, and Keziah’s passion for cooking to make their dreams come to fruition.
Not new to entrepreneurship, Mack jumped headfirst to help his wife get her business off the ground by assisting with renovations, contacting food distributors and overseeing everyday operations.
“My husband had two businesses of his own before we started our restaurant journey,” she said. “I learned a lot about customer service and operations from being a store manager at T-Mobile for 14 years.”
In an effort to ensure the best customer experience, the Gentrys spent a lot of time and resources renovating the space that once occupied Ruby Tuesday’s years back.
Giving the restaurant a major facelift; the pair have turned the once run-down dining rooms into a bright and lively space with flat-screen TVs, enhanced lighting and speakers playing old school R&B music.
The ambiance isn’t the only thing keeping customers going back — it’s the food.
Heavily inspired by the Gentrys’ roots in the South and Caribbean, the menu includes oxtail, shrimp alfredo, wings, fried pork chops and burgers. Along with the entrees, customers can choose collard greens, french fries, black-eyed peas and rice as side options. You shouldn’t forget the banana pudding and pound cake for dessert.
It is open 11a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
“The service is fast and the food is really good,” returning customer Christin George said. “Tallahassee is littered with chicken and fries and although Kezzy’s offers that, they have other options for me to choose. As a college student whose budget isn’t big, their food gives me the home-cooked meal feel without breaking my pockets.”
Upholding their values of producing quality food, Kezzy’s has not compromised its customers’ wallets. Staying budget friendly, meals at the establishment range from $14-$20.
Outside of catering to their budgets, the Gentrys have created job opportunities geared to FAMU and FSU students. They are looking to employ servers and hosts and encourage students to visit the restaurant to take part in open interviews.
With plans to get better, the Gentrys are preparing for a bright future.
“Even though this is just the start, I have a lot of plans for this place,” she said. “There’s still so much to come.”
Kezzy’s Bistro & Bar is located at the entrance between Macy’s and Old Sears.