Tall Trees a dream come true for new owners Ashley Stenabaugh-Vowels and Randy Vowels

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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. 

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16 Comments

  1. CAROLYN KENT on

    We were there last night for dinner. Wonderful food great service. Good Luck on your new endeavour . My husband is still talking about the gravy on the prime rib dinner.

  2. Arlene Peavoy on

    where is Tall Trees located? We are headed up Huntsville way next weekend ….. its always nice to find a great place for a bite and a visit
    Thanks

  3. Randy Spencer on

    All the best to Randy & Ashley we hope Tall Trees is as good to them as it was to us. Just would like to clarify that we have not retired as incorrectly mentioned. We are continuing our successful catering business under Spencer’s Catering along with our Butter Tarts, Fruit & Savory pies being sold throughout Huntsville & Lake of Bays which we began 19 years ago under Spencer’s Culinary Creations.

      • Randy Spencer on

        Thanks for the great reply in the article I very much appreciated the opportunity to not be put out to pasture so quickly a few words would have been nice put out out there

    • Hilary Newman on

      So relieved that we’ll still be able to purchase Karen’s butter tarts!
      I looked up Spencer’s Catering, but haven’t Been able to find you. Might you be able to share where we can purchase your butter tarts this summer?
      Congratulations on your new chapter!

    • Randy,
      So many years have passed and so much great food served both at Spencer’s Tall Trees and your catering. Many occasions of importance have been graced with your wonderful food and hospitable service.
      We won’t soon forget the occasions hosted by Bruce Evans, commercial, business and family times all made special and classy by your great food and personal touch. Our association goes way back and is remembered fondly.
      Best of luck with your new venture. Hope to be guests at a Spencer catered event soon!
      Jim and Janice Boyes

  4. Louise Parrott on

    Thank you to Randy and Karen for all those years of spectacular meals and wonderful memories. The Parrott family has celebrated many special occasions at Tall Trees. I would also like to mention your regular donations of fresh foods and meals to the Table Soup Kitchen which were so appreciated. Glad to hear your cuisine will still be available through your catering business. I wish all the best to Ashley and Randy – You’ve found a gem!

  5. Rob Millman on

    All the best in your exciting new venture! I’ve already met Ashley at the gym, and look forward to meeting Randy in the near future. I’m so happy that I don’t have to learn a new name at my age.
    .
    One slight criticism of your article: “married” couple was just a tad too provincial. I thought that distinction disappeared in the 60’s. Exactly who would care?

  6. Judith Lowes on

    Spencer’s Tall Trees was our favourite restaurant in Muskoka. Now simply Tall Trees, we’re looking forward to returning to sample the food and continue to share good times with friends.

    All the best in your new venture!

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