Hibiscus in Grayton Beach Keeps On Improving

April 26, 2012 by Joyce Owen

When something seems to be working right, it can be hard to accept change, but the folks at Hibiscus Coffee and Guesthouse decided to improve the popular gathering spot making it even better.

If the new innkeeper, Stephanie Vantassell, seems familiar it’s because she worked in the café several years ago. Barbara and Kurt Tape, the owners of Hibiscus, and Stephanie’s aunt and uncle, invited her to come to work for them in Grayton Beach when long-time innkeeper Cheri Peebles left for a new venture.

Stephanie lives in the apartment next to the office, giving guests the added advantage of an on-site manager. Whether they need directions, a recommendation for dinner or want to learn more about the area, she is on the premises.

In addition to being the innkeeper, Stephanie handles marketing and coordinates events. On meeting first-time visitors, she frequently hears though they have been coming to the area for years they never knew about Hibiscus. Though many of the reservations for the guesthouse have come through other guests’ recommendations, Stephanie is reaching out to a wider audience through social media.

She is excited to announce that the Woodpecker Cottage is once again available for guests. With many weddings planned at Hibiscus, Stephanie encourages couples to make the charming private cottage their honeymoon suite.

Stephanie says the Sunday champagne charity brunches with live music are back and the Tuesday night concert series in the Backyard of Love returns. There will be many similarities on concert nights: guests can still bring adult beverages and enjoy great music acts, but there will be a different concept for food.

The Tuesday night concerts are a listening venue, says Stephanie, and the plan is to concentrate on the performers rather than serving food throughout the evening.

While new things are happening, people have expectations based on previous visits says Stephanie, and the good news is the things that bring visitors back have not changed. Arriving at Hibiscus, guests will still find it as welcoming as it ever was. The homey décor, warm greetings and delicious healthy food are waiting.

Chef Colin Smith, another face folks might recognize, worked at Stinky’s Fish Camp, Smiling Fish Cafe and Christiano's Italian Restaurant, before becoming the proprietor of the kitchen in March. Colin is from New Orleans, but it’s not only the training and education in the culinary arts gained there, he has experience with restaurants in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Atlanta and brings a new level of expertise to the restaurant.

Colin says rather than focusing on changing things; he is enhancing the dining experience. It’s now Café Hibiscus and though the vegetarian items including waffle wonderful, oatmeal and quiche remain, Colin is adding new items. When he saw prospective diners leave after reviewing the menu, he asked why. Learning folks wanted more traditional bacon and eggs breakfast, he expanded the menu to include turkey sausage and bacon.

And now there’s no need to dash in at the last minute in the hopes of grabbing a quick breakfast before the kitchen shuts down. Breakfast is available from 7:30 to 11:30 when lunch begins. Lunch will be served until 2:30. Just as Colin adjusted the breakfast menu based on customer comments, the lunch menu will evolve. For now guests can expect healthy items – salads, wraps, quiches, frittatas, tacos and vegetarian burgers – nothing fried.

“I think lunch is going to do well,” says Colin. 

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