SOUTH MANATEE -- John and Angela Candlish of Lakewood Ranch are like the yin and yang of restaurateurs.
They hope that will work in their favor as they provide a balance to beer and food at Revelry Pub & Grill set to open May 8 in south Manatee.
Angela Candlish is the homebody cook with refined training from European chefs. Inspired by her Italian-American mother who had a way with food, Angela had her own catering company in Florida and a French-American dessert shop in Virginia. She has a way of making friends with her regular customers.
John Candlish, also a trained chef, learned at corporate restaurant chains, climbing to general manager at TGI Friday's in North Carolina before the family moved to Virginia, where he worked at Cheesecake Factory for six years. He also gained experience at Ruby Tuesday's and Capital Ale House. John is used to executing standards and having consistency in the kitchen and dining room night in and night out.
"We kind of designed this gastro pub around those experiences over the last 18 years as we've grown up around this industry," John said. "It's a little bit of a blending of all our careers and dining experiences and what we think is kind of relevant today."
The couple moved to Lakewood Ranch to be closer to John's parents, and that led to Revelry, 3005 University Parkway.
Revelry is a gastro pub, but the Candlishes aren't promoting that, because not everyone knows what a gastro pub is.
"Gastro pub is basically just a pub that serves high quality food. That's all it is," Angela said.
The Candlishes lucked out on a good pub name when John told Angela he was headed with friends to an Atlantic City casino called Revel. Angela was curious what the word meant and the dictionary style spelling popped up with the definition on her iPhone:
revelry (n.): lively and noisy festivities, especially when these involve drinking a large amount of alcohol
You will not find a pretentious environment, John said.
"What you'll experience is a relaxed, fun environment with top-notch service and food and drink," he said.
Revelry offers 32 craft beers on tap, ranging from the Chicago area favorites 312 and Goose Island to Germany's Franziskaner and Jacksonville's own Intuition IPA.
"We will not put Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Yuengling on draft," John said. Those beers are for the bottles. "We're only putting craft and German, Belgian beers on tap."
When tasting and searching for that perfect beer, John wanted to make sure the beer was brewed to its basics without relying on additives.
"I tried to pick beers that were from brewers that stuck to the roots of beer," John said. "Beer that's relevant and beer that people want to try and enjoy, and beer that people want to come back for."
The liquors feature premium well selections and craft and small batch selections showcased on the shelf, even organic gin.
On the food end, John is on his way to coining the phrase "junk free cuisine" to describe the dishes that his wife created.
"We're trying everything that we possibly can to eliminate chemicals in our food," Angela said.
"Is it 100 percent? No. Is it 95? Yeah. I would love to have an all-organic restaurant, but that would be too cost prohibitive."
Angela is doing her best to find farms and ranches to source her meat, including Harris Ranch in California that doesn't use growth hormones and uses grass-raised beef finished on corn. She's also in the midst of finding a Florida farm that doesn't use antibiotics in its bacon and Berkshire pork.
Some menu highlights include a short rib and mushroom pie with beer braised Harris Ranch beef short ribs with a golden puff pastry, plus a craft brewer beer mac and cheese the blends cheddar, Fontina, gruyere with tomato slices and Panko. (Yes, there will be beer in a few of your meals including the homemade beer bread.) There are also beef sandwiches with au jus, burgers, brats, roasted duck, brick oven pizza and dessert.
The couple hired Sarasota chef Todd Kellerman whose experience includes Blasé Café on Siesta Key and Hemingway's on Circle in St. Armands.
"We're really lucky that we found him," Angela said. Courtney Hastings, who was an owner and chef at Riverside Bar & Grille in Ruskin will be the front-end service manager, John said.
Eventually the restaurant wants to offer beer dinners, but already has some promotions in the works for its opening month. Expect to see beer steins that customers can purchase to be part of a beer club.
A tap takeover is planned where a wide range of a brewer's offerings will be featured (think of all the Sam Adams varieties as an example).
A Tasting Tuesday will offer flights of beer for $5 instead of the regular $10, too.
The couple is still hiring and expects to have 40 on staff. In the meantime, they hope to make plenty of friends out of their customers along the way.
"We want to know our customers here," Angela said. "That's the kind of environment we want. We want to know these people."
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.