It was less than a year ago when Jannah and I visited Gainesville for her work and happened upon a non-chain dueling piano bar/restaurant called The Keys. We had already eaten dinner, but hung around for the entire dueling piano show on a weekend night and we both looked at each other and said, “Why can’t we have something like this in Wesley Chapel?” multiple times.
A few months later, Wesley Chapel resident Jamie Hess had a meeting with The Grove developer Mark Gold and discussed the possibility of bringing a non-chain restaurant/bar with live entertainment to Wesley Chapel and, a week or so after that, Jamie and his wife Sandy, Lee Bevan and Jamie’s brother Joe and his wife Niki became partners in a then-unnamed, unbuilt new restaurant and lounge.
A few weeks later, the five partners realized they had stumbled onto the right thing at the right time when more than 1,800 different people (most, but not all of whom were residents of Wesley Chapel) suggested names on the Wesley Chapel Community Facebook page for their new place and, not long after that, Treble Makers became an actual thing. And, not even the start of the Covid-19 pandemic could dampen the enthusiasm of either the partners or the local community for the first real sit-down, non-chain American restaurant to open in Wesley Chapel since Dempsey’s Steak House at Saddlebrook Resort.
And, guess what? Treble Makers is, in my humble opinion, the best restaurant of any kind to open here since Dempsey’s, too.
While Jannah and I were so psyched to be getting our wish of having piano bar entertainment three miles from where we live fulfilled, we are both even more excited today about Treble Makers’ delicious food. And, best of all for these partners, we’re not the only ones.
Start Me Up!
Executive Chef Kevin Maggard interviewed for the job at Treble Makers by creating a seven-course meal of his take on many of the items Bevan and the Hesses said they wanted on their menu at Joe and Sandy’s Wesley Chapel home.
Kevin, who was trained at The Art Institute (AI) of Tampa, but has been a sous chef for multiple restaurants and catering companies in the Tampa Bay area, said that although he was fine with many of their choices, he called the menu “a little boring.”
When he asked if he could get a little adventurous with their concept, he was told to go ahead and run with it.
The result? Kevin and his fellow AI grad and head sous chef Jason Rosenberg came up with a number of unique menu items.
For starters, while my long-time readers know how much I love seared tuna, they’ve rarely ever heard me brag about calamari being one of my favorites. But, at Treble Makers, while the sesame-crusted ahi tuna (on a bed of homemade Asian-style slaw) is as good or better than what you pay more for at Bonefish, Kevin’s calamari is extra crispy and in a perfectly balanced sweet-spicy sauce that can only be compared with Ocean Prime’s in Tampa. So good.
Then, throw in his top-seller, the Imperial crab dip, homemade potato gnocchi in a smoky Alfredo sauce topped with a homemade cheese crisp, Buffalo shrimp and unique wings and, well, you get the idea.
So, What Else Is On The Menu?
Jamie says that although Treble Makers doesn’t yet have a separate lunch menu, the full dinner menu is available for every day for lunch. It includes such midday-friendly items as blue crab bisque, French onion soup, house, Caesar and wedge salads, plus a brisket/chuck blend burger, grilled or blackened chicken sandwich and steak, fish or shrimp “Treble Street Tacos” — none of which are pictured here but only because Treble Makers has only been open a few weeks as I’m writing this and I’ve been so enamored with so many of the dinner entrées.
But, rest assured, I will eventually be dining in or taking out lunch from Treble Makers a lot in the months to come. There’s even a make-your-own pasta option with your choice of five sauces that I will try.
For dinner, you can’t go wrong with a thick 6- or 8-oz. filet mignon, 12-oz. NY strip or boneless 12- or 16-oz. prime ribeye, all $23-$32, and served with two sides (the fresh broccoli is perfect, and photographer Charmaine George says the garlic mashed potatoes were outstanding; people also raved about the Brussels sprouts). I say they don’t need the $3 per add-on toppings like port demi, gorgonzola or lemon garlic butter because the steaks themselves are all tender, tasty and done to perfection — but they’re available.
Mine and Jannah’s surprise favorite so far has been the coconut curry black grouper — a surprise because we both thought we didn’t like anything curry-flavored. So wrong. The huge filet of absolutely fresh grouper shown here sits on a bed of basmati rice and keeps the curry flavor from overpowering the dish with a hint of sweetness, and you will get fish, sauce and rice in every delicious bite. Yum.
Another excellent sweet-&-spicy combo that North Tampa Bay Chamber president Hope Kennedy and her friend Matt let me have a bite of were the diver scallops in sweet corn sauce garnished with jalapeños.
Other great dinner entrées include Polynesian chicken breast, pan-seared chicken or veal Marsala (Charmaine said her veal, in the photo above, was “just so tender”; it’s also available with a port demi sauce), chicken or eggplant parm, salmon and a totally unique seared rare yellowfin tuna in thick “slabs” with green goddess sauce and a scallion medley that’s so much better than it even sounds, if you’re a tuna fan like I am.
Save room for dessert, too, as we have sampled the three currently on the menu — Key lime pie, NY-style cheesecake with homemade whipped cream and a super-rich triple chocolate cake.
In a word? Decadent.
What About The Music?
I’m glad you asked. Every Fri. and Sat. night, the dueling piano shows — which are 9 p.m.-midnight and are a separate cost of $12 per person (adults only) — feature different talented pianists who really know how to get the crowd going. They take requests — and tips help move your request up on the list — and Jamie delivers on his promise that every reservation gets you a socially distant table for four in the main dining area with great views of the action.
Speaking of Covid, Hess says Treble Makers, like every tenant at The Grove, has UV light sterilizers to disinfect the air and also disinfects every table as it is cleared.
I told him I’d like to see the ultra-premium, full-liquor bar area, with honestly very fair drink prices, open to half-capacity “general admission” seating for the shows, but, he says, they have no such plans. However, they do plan to add trivia and karaoke and have already added Bike Night on Wed. nights and live acoustic music on Thur. nights.
Treble Makers is open for lunch and dinner every day, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and is open until 1 a.m. on Fri. & Sat. nights. For more info, including dinner and show reservations, visit TrebleMakersofWC.com, call (813) 406-4371.