November 28, 2016

Could Babcock be a date night destination this Valentine’s Day?

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

PATRICIA BORNS , 8:20 a.m. EST November 28, 2016

Matt Seiler

Matt Seiler, food and beverage director for Babcock Ranch, stands at the site of Table and Tap on Monday, October 21, 2016 in south Charlotte County. The new locally-sourced, farm-to-table restaurant has a target opening date in early February, in time for Valentine’s Day.(Photo: Patricia Borns/The News-Press)

A new restaurant is rising in what might seem the middle of nowhere on State Road 31 just north of the Lee County line.

Table and Tap – the name was chosen in a contest of Kitson and Partners employees – aims to open in time for Valentine’s Day at Syd Kitson’s Babcock Ranch, with local sourcing right down to the chef.

Out of 30-plus applications from around the state received by the Kitson team, “We’ve narrowed it to two,” Babcock President Rick Severance said last week. “And we’re not going to tell you who they are.”

Both the candidates have local experience, so the ultimate pick will be plugged in to Southwest Florida’s provender; a key ingredient in the restaurant’s farm-to-table plan.

Severance in a past life worked on Seaside and other resort-style communities in northwest Florida, creating a well-heeled clientele for that region’s crabbers, oystermen and small organic farmers. Now he’s tapped Matt Seiler, most recently of Marco Island’s Marriott, as Babcock’s food and beverage director, to do the same here.

From its outdoor beer garden to a menu showcasing butchered meats, Table and Tap seems well-aimed at the Midwest diners the development team hopes will visit and, especially, settle at Babcock.

Set beside the lake in the town’s central square, the restaurant might remind diners of a rambling Mackinac Island summer house, with 56 seats under air and 30 outdoors within listening distance of a band shell.