The Brew Spot Café

Eatery fuses culinary and performing arts and chemistry under one roof

Jefferey Keaffaber, co-owner and professor of chemistry at the University of Florida, outside The Brew Spot Café.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.

There is a fusion of the culinary and performing arts and science happening in a newly opened business in northeast Gainesville.

The Brew Spot Café at 1000 NE 16th Ave. Suite H has been open for a month, offering up freshly cooked and baked food made daily in an open-air kitchen. In addition to the cuisine, the business also offers beer and fine wine, free chemistry tutoring and theatrical performances, all in a cozy atmosphere accentuated by chalkboard walls and a dog-friendly patio on the west side of the building.

The business is co-owned by Jeffery J. Keaffaber (pronounced Kee-Faber), Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the University of Florida, and Keith Cox, general manager of the business.

Although the restaurant is the core of the business, it also will feature a dinner theater that will have its first performance this weekend with "Death in Them Thar Hills," a murder mystery set out West, where the audience will get the opportunity to figure out which cast member killed a gold prospecto.

The play will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday and run every weekend through Oct. 26-28. For box office information and to make reservations, call 352-672-2122 or 352-284-1573.

Tickets will be $30 per person per show, and will include admission to the play and a three-course meal with a drink, Keaffaber said, adding that the dinner theater is offering a special for $100 for six shows through June. He also said the dinner theater performances will be done by The Brew Spot Dinner Theatre Troupe, which is comprised of volunteer actors from the community, Santa Fe College and UF.

Carol Valesques-Richardson, executive director of the troupe, said The Brew Spot is a blessing to local lovers of the performing arts. She said anybody interested in acting can join the troupe.

"We're a community committed to the arts and tourism and The Brew Spot is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to attract tourists to Gainesville and Alachua County," said Valesques-Richardson, adding that the nearest dinner theaters are in Jacksonville and Orlando. "It is also great that there is now a performance arts center in northeast Gainesville."

Keaffaber said he hopes the dinner theater is a big hit, just like the Sunday brunch at the café. He said the brunch, which features an all-you-can-eat set-up in a classroom that seats 50 people, has been very popular with customers.

"The Sunday brunches have been great for business," Keaffaber said.

"All of our food is refrigerated and wholesome food, and we try to buy from local farmers and growers," Keaffaber said. "We have a refrigeration system that ensures all our foods are fresh, and we do not freeze or fry any of our foods."

Keaffaber said bakers come in early every morning to cook fresh bread, cakes, cookies and pastries. He said all of the items on the menu, which include breakfast items, chili, deli sandwiches, homemade soups, appetizers and more, are available throughout the day. He also said the sausage is ground on-site daily and is a part of the breakfast menu, which includes bacon, eggs, grits, ham, hash browns and pancakes. Keaffaber said chef-inspired small entrees are posted on the chalkboard menu each afternoon.

The inside of the business features eight café-style seats at the bar, a runway with 10 café-style sections that seat 30 and a small lounge area with a mounted flatscreen TV that is rarely on a sporting event unless it's a UF football game.

The classroom where Sunday brunch is served is where Keaffaber said the "arts and science" fuse together.

"Class can break out at any time in there," he said, adding that he has told chemistry students from UF and Santa Fe that he is available for free chemistry homework help daily after 5 p.m. at the café.

Keaffaber, who worked for the Disney Co. in the past, said the concept for the café was inspired by many things he has seen in theme parks and resort hotels and also on the Food Network.

"I put all of that together with several concepts I had in my mind that were new and innovative," he said. "This was inspired by Keith and myself having brainstorming meetings on the back deck at home to come up with what you see here, but I took design elements out of several places I've traveled to and have been involved with in the past."

Hours of operation are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 352-505-5470.

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