WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Table 23' Targets Tallahassee Taste Buds

Tom Flanigan

There’s a new eatery at the corner of Tallahassee’s Thomasville Road and Sixth Avenue. “Table 23” officially opened for business a few weeks ago.

First, let’s get the matter of “where did that name come from?” out of the way. Restaurant owner Joe Lemon said there are actually several reasons. One is that the number “23” has a lot of personal significance for his wife and fellow restaurateur Mandy.

“One was that Psalm 23 was very important to her," he explained. "We have two girls and three boys, so that fit in with the ‘2’ and the ‘3’. No one else was using it out there. That was another big thing, because every restaurant name has been selected. And then there’s an old slang term, ‘Twenty-Three Skidoo’, which means take advantage of a great opportunity.”

A big part of that opportunity, Lemon said, was to give a nod to a restaurant that used to be in the same building.

“And then when we got here we started talking to Chris Aiello who was the front house manager at Chez Pierre," Lemon recalled.  "He had a big main table out here, which they called ‘table 23’. So it all just fell into place.”

Lemon said he wants the new Table 23 to be a worthy successor to the Chez Pierre legacy, while avoiding the pitfalls that plagued the restaurant that took its place.

“Chez Pierre in my opinion did a great job," he acknowledged. "The community loved Chez Pierre and I never heard a bad word about Chez Pierre. But it was also a little high-end, fancy French restaurant, which I’m not comfortable doing. And the Front Porch" (the eatery that took over that location after Chez Pierre closed in 2012) "the community never bought into that. It was very pricey, kind of an elitist establishment and I saw that fail with prices being too high and the quality not where it needed to be in service.”

Lemon said his 13 years in charge of Tallahassee’s Bonefish Grill gave him some valuable insights into what this area’s diners want.

“I just didn’t want it to be just a special event place where you came here only for graduations, or Mothers’ Day or some big event. I wanted it to be a place you could come on a date night, or with the family, or if you want to come and have a big event, we have private dining in this room here so we can cater to the big events and special occasions. But we have also the more casual atmosphere out on the porch, too.”

Credit Tom Flanigan
Table 23's remodeled front porch space

And yes, the giant porch fronting Thomasville Road is still there, its appearance a bit more elegantly streamlined perhaps, but still a warm and welcoming place to catch a drink or a bite. Speaking of food, Lemon brought aboard Chefs Brian Knepper and Brandon Miller.

“Brian was a chef in New Orleans and here locally so he’s comfortable with that ‘Red Hills Region’ he calls it – the South – and Brandon is the same deal. He grew up working in his parent’s barbeque restaurant so he’s very southern. I’ve grown up all over the world, but I still feel like we’re all comfortable with that type of food.”

Table 23’s current brunch menu features such signature-southern offerings as chicken and waffles, sweet potato pancakes and biscuits ‘n gravy. Dinnertime entrees include gulf grouper, shrimp and grits and pecan-crusted chicken. But Lemon advised, ‘Enjoy ‘em while you can."

“The menu we have now will only last maybe through August," he said. "And then, it won’t completely change, but some different offerings we be on there and there will be some different items. This is the menu we’re working on for the first few weeks to get us open, but there’s more to come.”

Perhaps one more reason to visit Table Twenty-Three from time to time to see what’s new on the menu and how the latest culinary incarnation at the corner of Thomasville Road and Sixth Avenue is faring.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.