Inside the latest soul food restaurant at Governor's Square mall – Tallahassee Democrat

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Since initiating a soft opening in August, the owners of Kezzy’s Bistro & Bar say they have experienced an influx of business, giving them encouragement that their food concept is welcomed by the community.

Owners Keziah and Mack Gentry are planning a grand opening on Oct. 22, if all construction is completed and they are appropriately staffed.

Kezzy’s Bistro, named after co-owner Keziah Gentry, is the only dine-in restaurant in the mall outside of the food court. It is located near the former Sears wing in a space occupied previously by franchise restaurants, Buca di Beppo and Ruby Tuesday.

The current menu consists of 16 dishes, each accompanied by one side option. Popular items include shrimp Alfredo, meatloaf. and smothered pork chops. Their menu features vegetarian options like macaroni and cheese and collard greens.

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The most popular item, oxtails. are accompanied by one side choice for $21.

Keziah Gentry is of Cuban and Jamaican heritage. Much of her culinary style is influenced by her upbringing. 

“My mother taught me a lot of Cuban and Jamaican dishes,” she said. “I started learning how to cook at the end of my senior year because that’s when I needed to learn to cook for myself.” 

“I have the soul food and barbecue background and Kezzy has the Caribbean background,” Mack Gentry injected.

Keziah Gentry grew up in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Tallahassee in 2019, while preparing for her wedding. She learned how to prepare soul food dishes from her husband, a Tallahassee native who also owns an auto repair shop, Mack’s Garage, 424 Capital Circle Southwest.

The owners pride themselves on operating a “scratch kitchen” with fresh ingredients and a hands-on approach in the kitchen.

“We are the only ones who are seasoning and making the food,” Mack Gentry said of the couple’s routine.

They also serve alcoholic beverages and desserts such as banana pudding pound cake and red velvet cake.

The Gentrys want to expand the menu to include lunch specials and a cocktail menu. An outdoor cigar lounge is envisioned for the future.

Tytianna Sanders, a hairstylist in Tallahassee, visited Kezzy’s Bistro after seeing a post on Instagram about the restaurant.

“The staff was friendly and welcoming, and the food was great,” Sanders said. “I had the wings and some tacos, and it was delicious.”

“I would definitely recommend them to anyone who wants some real soul food,” 21-year-old, Jadakiss Anthony said. He learned about the business on Facebook and decided to order oxtails and collard greens.

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The Gentrys, who have been married three years, decided to open the establishment at the mall after being encouraged by friends and family to open a restaurant.

“I think they were a little skeptical about us even wanting this space because it hasn’t been rented out in seven years,” Keziah Gentry said of the mall’s leasing office.

The couple started leasing the space in January and worked months on cleaning and making renovations to the floors, kitchen, and dining room, before the soft opening on Aug. 27.

Terrance L. Barber, founder of Working Class Wednesday, hosted ‘Business and Politics’ at Kezzy’s Bistro last week. Working Class Wednesday is a network that connects local businesses, young professionals, and the community through engaging events.

“I’ve been an advocate for minority businesses in Tallahassee for the past 10 years,” Barber told the Tallahassee Democrat. Working Class Wednesday has started a new program called the Black Excellence Collective, with a purpose of “cultivating black capital and culture.”

 “We’re going to be helping them from grand opening to their one-year mark,” Barber said of Kezzy’s, which is now a member of the Black Excellence Collective.

One drawback of the extended soft opening is lack of staffing, the owner said.

“We have the kitchen and equipment to compete with anybody, we just have to get the staffing,” Mack Gentry said. 

For the restaurants hours of business and other updates visit their Facebook page

Democrat writer Alaijah Brown can be reached at [email protected]

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