RESTAURANTS April 9, 2015 admin
One thing that Arvey Krise and her son, Reuben Sliva, have discovered as restaurateurs is that home cooking never goes out of style. Case in point: Reuben’s Smokehouse, located at 11506 South Cleveland Avenue, next to Dunkin’s Diamonds in Fort Myers.
Although the restaurant’s intimate, 50-seat dining room gets packed during peak lunch and dinner hours, catering and take-out account for much of Reuben’s business. Many days, more food is sent out than served, even before the doors open at 11 a.m.
With three booming operations under one roof, the mother and son proprietors have worked countless, non-stop days since opening the restaurant last December in the former Miami Connection & Deli location. However, they say it’s worth losing sleep if more people can enjoy what they have to offer.
For authentic barbecue and country cooking at its finest, Reuben’s is unmatched. Everything is home cooked and/or made from scratch, down to the barbecue sauce and croutons. In fact, pitmaster Reuben built the restaurant’s smoker himself to ensure superior flavor in all items smoked and barbecued on the premises.
The mouthwatering menu features a variety of complete meals, as well as sandwiches, sides, salads and combination plates. “From the Smoke Box” features smoked plates with choices that include Pulled Pork, ½ Yardbird (chicken), Beef Brisket and Pork Ribs. If you’re from the South and have a yen for comfort food, prepare to swoon over “From Arvey’s Kitchen” selections, such as Mom’s Bacon Meatloaf w/Sassy Sauce. There’s also Pot Roast & Brown Gravy and Chicken & Dumplings, served with mashed potatoes (prepared two or three times a day) and two sides ranging from Killer Black Beans, Cheesy Mac, Fresh Green Beans (made with onion, garlic, bacon and white wine) and Molasses Baked Beans, among others.
And then there are the down-home details that make a meal at Reuben’s unforgettable, such as the salad dressings (Arvey’s Soon To Be Famous Blu Cheese, Ranch and Reuben’s Balsamic Vinaigrette), the homemade yeast rolls (made daily) and the heavenly desserts (Chocolate-Caramel Bread Pudding is a best seller, with the Gooey Fudgy Chocolaty Cake and Luscious Lemon Bars not far behind). All are original recipes that reflect the family’s knack for creating memorable meals.
“I call myself a country chef,” says Arvey. “Reuben is a real chef.” Actually, both have extensive experience in the food service industry.
Reuben is a highly accomplished chef who got his first restaurant job while attending high school in Atlanta, doing food prep work in the kitchen. Against his mother’s advice to become a waiter, he stayed with kitchen work and apprenticed “for the best chefs who would have him.”
His first local job as a chef was at Cru. There, Reuben helped create the menu and daily specials, as well as the menu that garnered an invitation to the James Beard House in Manhattan in 2006; a prestigious honor that he orchestrated for the CRU team. He has also been a chef for the Red Sox during spring training and was the head chef at Royal Palm Yacht Club.
Arvey is a long-time caterer, whose talent for delivering inventive, crowd-pleasing consumables has made her in tremendous demand locally. However, by trade, she is a registered nurse with a business degree, who had a successful career as an IV/oncology nurse, as well as director of sales and marketing for the Visiting Nurse Association in St. Louis. She only began catering to help out a friend “when Reuben was a toddler,” eventually accepting major catering assignments for as many as 1,200 people. Nonetheless, catering remained a sideline until recently.
In November 2010, she and Reuben launched Reuben’s Catering. Working out of her home, they catered lunches for medical practices and other corporate clients on weekdays, and often spent weekends catering private parties. She also did her own marketing and even designed the company’s distinctive heart-shaped logo. Almost immediately, the business was so successful that they needed some help and more space. In February 2011, they purchased their current location and moved the business there.
Despite the dining room that came with the commercial kitchen, Arvey and Reuben had no intention of opening a restaurant. “But after people tasted our food, they’d call and ask where our restaurant was,” she says. Eventually they agreed to give it a try and opened Reuben’s Smokehouse.
Thanks largely to word-of-mouth advertising, the business has taken off and continues to grow as more customers discover it. In July, a colorful orange, red and yellow striped awning was installed over the entry and the exterior was repainted a bright red with tangerine-colored trim. “Our business doubled immediately,” Arvey says.
Social media and online reviews have also enhanced the restaurant’s visibility. According to Arvey, Reuben’s Smokehouse is TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurant out of 650 in Southwest Florida. “That says a lot. We get a lot of new customers that way.”
Reuben’s expects to further expand its customer base in coming months with the introduction of new products and services. On September 12th and 13th, Reuben’s Smokehouse Market will have a public grand opening, providing many of the restaurant’s most popular items to go from a refrigerated display case.
In addition to Reuben’s homemade jams, dressings, unbaked yeast rolls and desserts, Reuben’s Smokehouse Market will also offer its best-selling smoked meats in vacuum-sealed packages, including brisket, whole pork butts, chicken and ribs. New items include smoked sausage, bacon, prime rib and duck. The market will also offer Drop-and-Go menus, from which patrons may choose vacuumed-packed entrees and sides to eat at home. Each will be cooked, vacuum-sealed and frozen in bags that can be dropped into boiling water and fully heated in short order.
During the holidays, the market plans to carry gift baskets that can be customized to include all types of goodies such as smoked meats, various sauces, jams and rubs, at every price point. Shipping and delivery options are still in the works, but should be finalized in coming weeks.
(Reuben’s Smokehouse is located at 11506 South Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers, next to Dunkin’s Diamonds. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., closed Sunday. Live music every Friday night from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Take-out and catering available. For more information, visit www.ReubensCatering.com or call (239) 931-0420 or 1-866-92-TASTY.)