A casual dining innovator, Tim Curci ’87, along with the late Chris Parker, created the St. Petersburg, FL-based Bonefish Grill on January 15, 2000. Bonefish features a “polished casual” atmosphere and, with fresh fish being flown in every day, the restaurant consistently offers at least eight varieties of fish on its menu. The restaurant was instantly popular, so much so that Tim and Chris opened two additional locations and created the Bonefish Grill Florida company. On October 5, 2001, OSI Bloomin Brands, the creator of Outback Steakhouse, recognized the potential to expand the concept and purchased a majority stake in the business. Thanks in large part to Tim’s vision and unwavering passion for seafood, the chain continues a remarkable expansion across the United States with nearly 200 restaurants now in operation.
In 2012, Tim sold his remaining interest in Bonefish Grill to focus on a new concept located at the intersection of Tampa and Racetrack Roads in Tampa, FL. Fat Beet Farm, situated on nine acres, will include an organic farm, two farm-to-table restaurants, and a farm commissary. “The idea is to grow fresh food on the farm, source what we cannot grow locally from other farmers, and serve it right up on the property,” Tim says. They will showcase multiple modern high-yield farming methods, work with student interns to understand the science of sustainable agriculture, and grow beautiful show gardens. With sustainability always in mind, the farm will use many of its natural resources to its benefit such as rain collection, native bees as pollinators, egg chickens for pest control, and compost as fertilizer. The farm will have an on-site commissary to process all of the bounty from the farm, allowing easy use by local restaurants.
In addition to processing all of its own products, Fat Beet Farm will also use produce from local farmers, day-boat catch from Tampa Bay, and local artisianal craft producers. The items are all processed in one place to allow restaurants to more effectively use the local products at lower costs. A few of the products Fat Beet Commissary will produce are native honey, cheese, sausage, eggs, fruit pies (plus jams and jellies), and in-house butchering for day-boat fish and meats. Curci’s daughter Kate Curci’13 runs the commissary.
In addition to the farm property and commissary kitchen, there will be two on-site restaurants. The first of the two will be a small drive-thru breakfast concept called Soul Biscuit Roadside featuring a Heart and Soul menu. The Heart side of the menu will offer tasty, nutritious options such as smoothies with seasonal fruits and vegetables, wraps, and quinoa oatmeal bowls. The Soul side will offer more indulgent southern fare such as hot, fresh biscuits filled with fried chicken, house-smoked brisket, and farm eggs. The signature restaurant, Fat Beet, will serve the highest quality local food and cocktails exclusively from known sources and will showcase the bounty of the gulf coast and the south.
The Curci family’s years of planning and hard work are finally coming to fruition. The farm and commissary should be fully operational by the end of 2015. Tim hopes to open the restaurants in early 2016.
Tim serves on the CIA’s Board of Trustees. We are delighted that he has agreed to share his expertise with the college.