AUBURNDALE — The grill and its venue may be new to the city, but its owners are not.
Tantrums, a new grill overlooking Lake Myrtle and the newly opened Elite Cable Park, recently held its grand opening and is the latest venture for Duncan and Mary Ann Owens.
For 17 years, the couple owned and operated Beef O’Brady’s in the downtown Auburndale area, a run that ended just two years ago when they sold the sports bar franchise.
At the time, Duncan and Mary Ann Owens also owned another Beef O’Brady’s location in Davenport and additionally ran the concessions at the Auburndale and Haines City sports fields.
“Originally, we came out here to look at the location for concessions,” Duncan Owens explained. “But, once we saw it, we had a different vision.”
It didn’t take much convincing by the Owens’ to change the minds of the owners of the building that the location needed more than just concessions. Tantrums — named after a wakeboarding trick — has a full kitchen and an extensive, creative menu that the couple personally crafted.
After working within the structure that comes with owning a franchise, the couple says they have enjoyed the newfound freedom with this venture.
“We love the fact that we can put our stamp on everything — the interior of the grill and menu,” Mary Ann Owens said. “We have the freedom to create our own food items.”
The Tantrums menu is littered with names of entrees related to wakeboarding and water sports, such as Grabs, Boats, Wake Bowls, Rookies, Kickers and Tricks.
Grabs are hand-held entrees like a Fish Sandwich, Oyster Po’Boy, Shrimp Po’ Boy and Hot Dogs. Boats are fried main dishes — served with fries, hushpuppies and slaw — like shrimp, oysters, oysters and chicken. Wake Bowls are fish, chicken or shrimp grilled with rice, avocado and other ingredients. The restaurant also has a kids’ menu, sides and dessert.
Guests can dine inside or outside on the multi-level covered deck with a view of the wakeboarders and other water sports enthusiasts.
Since they sold their Beef O’Brady’s location in Auburndale, the Owens have also become the management team for The Grille at Cypresswood in Winter Haven and sold their franchise in Davenport.
“We feel like The Grille and this (Tantrums) complement each other,” Mary Ann said. “The Grille is busier during the winter months and this will be busier in the summer.”
The couple, who have been married for 17 years, seem to know each other and the business well enough to know where and when to help or take charge. They have family members to help, as well.
John Burns, Mary Ann Owens’ son, oversees the concessions and will manage Tantrums. Nikki Burns, Mary Ann’s daughter, is the event coordinator for The Grille.
“The Grille is one of the most affordable event venues in the area,” Mary Ann Owens said. “The restaurant and banquet rooms have been completely remodeled.”
In addition to the family members who are involved, Duncan Owens was quick to add that they also have a professional, dedicated team of employees.
“We owe much of this to the fact that we hire good people,” he said. “Some of them have been with us for years.”
The couple said they won’t stop here, either, and that they would like to continue to perfect the menu and atmosphere at Tantrums.
“We are so excited to be back in Auburndale,” Duncan said.
Long-time customers and friends are happy they are back in town, too.
“I am happy and excited for Duncan and Mary Ann coming back,” said Jack Myers, local businessman and friend of the couple. “They have a lot of friends here and will do well at Lake Myrtle.”
Bracken Smith, also a local business owner and long-time customer, agrees.
“Tantrums has great food and service plus it’s a great concept,” he said.
Tantrums is located at 330 Denton Avenue in Auburndale and is open every day from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, call (863) 875-3974.