In Sumter County and also known as The Villages Metro area, Wildwood has some wonderful dining options. What used to be Sonny’s is now The Speckled Butterbean, a buffet that recently opened on Highway 44.
The new design gives the restaurant a warm, country-home feeling. Old relics and granny-style curtains grace the walls, and soft lighting and the smell of good, down-home cooking fills the air.
Daniel Creach, son of owners Nathan and Patricia Creach, was my host. His brother, Jaime, also serves in operations.
“It started with our first restaurant in Webster, not far from here,” Daniel says. “Then this opened up—7,000 square feet and 280 seats.”
His parents had prayed for a location and looked at many during their search.
“They knew this was the place when the day they were in here looking, someone walked in out of the blue and told them a hospital and more was going to be built across the street,” Daniel adds.
Daniel, a musician who has performed in Nashville with such popular bands as Rascal Flatts, was asked by his parents to please come home and help.
“I needed to take a break and get back to my roots,” he explains.
The idea for the restaurant’s name came from his parents who used to shell peas on their front porch and talk about owning a restaurant one day. Fried chicken, real mashed potatoes, smoked ribs, beef and chicken stews, collard greens, and cobblers are just some of the items you’ll find on this country buffet. All the vegetables are fresh from the Webster market.
Open seven days a week, 6am to 9pm, The Speckled Butterbean serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Call (352) 748-5333 for more information.
Not far from there, on Main Street and just off of the turnpike, is another gem, Cotillion Southern Café, (352) 748-1223. Operating out of what used to be the Bank of Wildwood, built sometime before 1905, owners Kathi and Jimmy Vincent made their restaurant dreams a reality with this beautiful building featuring high ceilings inside and ornate columns outside. Although they could use the room, Kathi left the vault in place and says she wouldn’t think of ever removing it.
After raising six children in Marion County, her interests turned to genealogy, antiques, lace and china, and even some catering with family recipes. You can read more about her life story in her cookbook available at the restaurant and filled with delicious family recipes.
Born in Miami, this Florida-bred has more Southern spunk than a family of 10 in the back of an old Ford pick-up. Talking with her is a delight, especially when her eyes light up regarding compliments she receives every day.
“I have customers tell me,” she says with a devilish grin, “they didn’t need to drive to Georgia for good Southern food. They say it’s right here.”
While I was there, regulars Dennis and Geri Nea were celebrating their 32nd anniversary with friends. They kept jokingly asking me to leave and not tell anyone else about this well-kept secret.
There’s too much to say about this delightful restaurant in such little space. Visit cafecotillion.com for pictures and the menu. You’ll discover why one of her desserts made the cover of Lake & Sumter Style’s May issue.Nibbles: In Lady Lake, Siam Orchid has closed and Seafood Gallery has moved in. Also, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s opened in Clermont. More in the next issue.