THIS BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON
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For many years, Randy Vowels and Ashley Stenabaugh-Vowels dreamed of owning their own restaurant. They weren’t sure how that would take shape—opening a food truck, starting a new restaurant or buying an existing business—but when Spencer’s Tall Trees came on the market, they saw tons of potential in the 35-year-old beloved local restaurant and decided it was perfect for them.
The couple took over from Randy and Karen Spencer, who owned Spencer’s Tall Trees for almost 20 years, and launched under the simplified name Tall Trees on May 10, just in time for Mother’s Day weekend.
“This is our long term plan and we want the restaurant to remain a pillar in the community with our own twist,” says Stenabaugh-Vowels.
The pair say they will definitely be keeping some of the customer favourites on the menu and will add many new creations of their own. They also plan to feature many local food and drink producers. “There are so many great local products and we want to support them,” says Vowels.
The married couple both come from business-owner families and have education and extensive experience in culinary arts.
Stenabaugh-Vowels earned a culinary degree at Humber College, and has worked in many different aspects of the food industry. She spent her summers through college cooking at Deerhurst, worked in Centre Block on Parliament Hill cooking for prime ministers and diplomats at just 21 years old, and was also the executive chef at Hidden Valley Resort for three years.
She has also travelled to both Europe and Chile for cooking competitions where she placed amongst the top contestants.
Vowels was a chef at 3 Guys and a Stove for 11 years and says the owners and staff there have been nothing but excited and supportive of his new venture. He started at 3 Guys making salads and worked his way up to managing both kitchen and floor staff. “I was fortunate enough to learn to run a restaurant from one of the best,” says Vowels.
He also has vast experience in catering and menu planning, as well as black tie galas, events and weddings.
Tall Trees will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. and then beginning in June will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. They will also offer catering for weddings and special events.
Look for Tall Trees at the Muskoka 2/4 Craft Beer Festival on May 18, where they’ll be serving up ribs and beef.
“We look forward to the continued support of the community,” says Vowels, “and will offer the same quality that Muskoka has come to know and love for over 35 years.”
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly noted that Randy and Karen Spencer have retired. They have sold their restaurant but their catering business will continue.