our story …
Owners Chef Paul Kapsalis and Kris Kubik share a simple philosophy … A memorable dining experience is not the result of just great food, or wine, or service, or even ambience. It’s not any one of these, but all of them. A truly memorable dining experience is time deliciously spent.
They share a passion and commitment … a passion for the experience, for perfecting and sharing the art of dining … and a commitment to hard work and high standards, to consistently providing quality and excellence to their guests. Both grew up in families where their cultural heritage played an integral role in their upbringing, and where food and the art of preparing and sharing it were vital in the passing on of family tradition.
Chef Paul learned from his Mediterranean background to harvest what the sea and land had to offer. His exposure to food and cooking and his aspirations to become a chef began at a very early age, his summers having been spent fishing and harvesting vegetables from the family garden and riding in the back seat of his mother’s or grandmother’s car, while they drove from dairy to local butcher to produce market, finding and filling their car with their bounty. He would then watch as his grandmother and mother turned their finds into a feast for the family. Cooking played an important role in growing up in his Mediterranean family and finding the right ingredients was always a vigilant quest.
In the early days of commercial passenger aviation in America, when the romantic vision of air travel included the notion of ‘dining’ in the sky, Paul’s grandfather founded one of the first companies to cater to the airlines needs, becoming one of the vanguards in the airline catering industry. It was while tagging along with his grandfather as he conducted his business that Paul learned the ethics of hard work and the value of providing a quality product to your customer.
Graduating, with honors, from the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, in 1993, he interned at the famous Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina. During his career, Paul has held several notable positions: Sous Chef at the Inn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee (a Relais Chateaux property); Executive Chef/Food Service Director for Earth Fare natural food supermarkets, Asheville, North Carolina; Executive Chef at the Highland Lake Inn, Hendersonville, North Carolina; and Chef de Cuisine at the Blue Gardenia, Safety Harbor Florida. And in 1996, he was given the honor of cooking at the James Beard House in New York City.
Kris Kubik is the perfect complement to Chef Paul, bringing to Green Springs the warmth and genuineness instilled in her from her family’s traditions. Life in her large Polish family was centered around boisterous gatherings around her mother’s kitchen table. Conversations bounced back and forth, while platters brimming with food were passed around. Utter chaos … utter family. It was a daily celebration of the ritual of dining together … a time to share more than a meal, a time to reconnect and share themselves. Days events were discussed, vacation plans made, quarrels settled, accomplishments acknowledged … seemingly random moments of togetherness which brought an affirmation of belonging to those gathered.
Though not having any professional training, Kris does credit her father for developing her baking skills. You see, her father’s love of sweets and his keen awareness of his daughter’s interest in turning out said sweets, encouraged him to shower her with all the tools necessary to aid in her self-education. Her inherent knack for baking does comes from her mother, an excellent cook, who turned out family feasts, always from unwritten recipes. It’s from her mother that Kris learned to experiment, to ‘put aside the recipe,’ and to add a pinch of this and a touch of that until she created something unique to her.
Kris’ career paths have taken her down many roads … to Essex, Connecticut and marketing and graphic design, where she created annual reports for national corporations like Xerox and alumni magazines for universities like Yale; to New York City, where she assisted a friend in launching her own successful mail-order gourmet cake company; to the high desert of Cortez, Colorado, where she ran the kitchen and bed-and-breakfast at a hands-on archaeological site.
With very similar family backgrounds and values, it’s no wonder these two should team up, both personally and professionally. They met in 1998, while working together at Highland Lake Inn, Hendersonville, North Carolina and, in 1999, decided to move to the Tampa Bay area to be closer to Paul’s grandparents. Here, they settled in Safety Harbor, because of its small-town feel … “it’s a place where you know all your neighbors, and you can ride your bike downtown to the local shops where the shopkeepers know you by name.”
the original green springs …
In 1999, having come to realize that ‘chain’ kitchens were very impersonal places in which to create a true dining experience, Paul introduced to Kris the idea of creating a place of their own. She, of course, said, “Yes,” and, they went to work.
They chose an old wood-frame house (circa 1920) on Third Avenue North in downtown Safety Harbor. They liked its ‘feel’ and character … it wasn’t located in a strip mall, but sat, instead on a brick-lined street, and it certainly seemed an inviting atmosphere where food and dining could be celebrated. Even before getting the electricity turned on, they gathered together all of their friends for another celebration and, by candlelight, brainstormed ideas for their ideal little restaurant. In fact, it was at this time that the name Green Springs was ‘born.’ A good friend, and editor of the local paper, informed them that Green Springs had been one of the original names for the city of Safety Harbor, and, since they wanted to create a place that was the ‘hub’ of the community, the name was a perfect fit.
With these ideas in hand, they set out to build their restaurant. And in the true spirit of ‘Green Springs’, the restaurant was built by and became a reflection of the community that surrounded it. Friends came daily and spent countless hours painting, hammering, and offering encouragement. Numerous strangers stopped by, quickly to become new friends, as they donated tools, furniture, and good wishes.
On September 12, 2000, Green Springs Cafe and Gathering Place opened its doors. It quickly lived up to its name and became the ‘gathering place’ … people came from all over to get together with old friends — and, often, meet new ones — and to enjoy great food, music, and service.
the new green springs bistro …
By late 2004, Green Springs Cafe had outgrown the little house that nurtured its beginnings. It was literally ‘busting at the seams.’ Their dilemma: How to grow, yet stay within their community of Safety Harbor?
As luck would have it, a beautiful wood-frame house, circa 1930, became available just around the corner on Fourth Avenue North. It was perfect … bigger, but not too big. It would enable Paul and Kris to still be able to offer the best features of Green Springs with additional amenities … intimate dining areas for quiet conversation, live music in a bar and lounge, as well as dining space to accommodate groups and parties.
So, once again, Paul and Kris were back at work ‘constructing’ the new Green Springs Bistro. Friends, of course, lent a helping hand, and the artists in town, once again, turned their visions into reality. It’s been hard work though, for the most often asked questions they’ve had from longtime guests are, “Will it still look like Green Springs; will it be the same?”
Paul and Kris have worked diligently to see to it that the new Green Springs Bistro has the same vibrancy in look and feel and the same quality of food and service as the old Green Springs Cafe. As they see it, Green Springs is all grown up. “Our little house on Third Avenue saw Green Springs through its birth and childhood. Hopefully now, our little house on Fourth Avenue will see it through its adulthood. Regardless of ‘Cafe’ or ‘Bistro,’ it will always be Green Springs.”
Green Springs Bistro156 4th Ave. North
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 7276696762
Open Tuesday - Saturday
Dinner: 4:30pm - 9:30pm
Happy Hour: 4:30 - 5:30pm
Closed Sunday & Monday
Reservations are suggested for dinner