Big crowds welcome The Mansion in Melbourne
Former Brevard favorite gets new lease on restaurant life
About The Mansion
The Mansion is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Most of the sandwiches and burgers are under $10 and entrees are about $15. The most expensive item on the menu is the New York Strip steak at $22.
Sandwiches from The Deli range from $5.50 to $7.
MELBOURNE — Beth DiGiacinto had hoped to quietly unlock the doors of The Mansion and then work through the kinks that come with a new restaurant as customers slowly realized it was open.
But it wasn’t reality because the eatery in question is the reincarnation of Strawberry Mansion, a restaurant that was a favorite for many Brevard County residents before it closed in October 2006.
“We knew people were excited about this. I don’t know we expected the crowds,” said DiGiacinto, who with her husband, Dean, opened The Mansion to its first customers on Jan. 18.
“We’ve gotten so many ‘thank yous’ for doing the project,” Dean DiGiacinto said.
Buzz about The Mansion started in early 2010 when the DiGiacintos purchased the early 1900s-era home-turned-restaurant from the former owner, Bob Brown.
Built in 1905, the three-story Victorian house was owned Nannie and John Lee, who were early residents of Melbourne.
Brown, his wife and other business partners purchased the home during the late 1970s, painted it pink and turned it into a restaurant.
The Strawberry Mansion played host to weddings, anniversary dinners and family celebrations for countless Brevard residents in its three-decade-long history.
Beth DiGiacinto said she’s enjoyed hearing all of the stories, such as the couple who had came to Strawberry Mansion in the 1980s to celebrate her husband’s first paycheck.
Despite differences — Strawberry Mansion had fine dining fare while The Mansion is a casual American eatery and an Italian deli — Beth DiGiacinto said she wants to keep the idea that The Mansion is a place for guests to have a great meal and fun time.
After that, the customers can pick their favorite things of The Mansion.
Some enjoy “The Terrace,” a newly built upstairs deck that has views of the Indian River Lagoon.
And the restaurant already has regulars for “The Tavern,” the indoor eating area featuring a 60-tap beer bar that was once Mister BeauJean's Bar-Grille & Breakfast.
“We have these beer guys that come and stare at the taps,” said John Michalak, the manager of “The Cellars,” the wine, hard-to-find beer and specialty spirits store housed in much of the older portion of the home.
“They just ogle the beer,” he said.
Contact Cervenka at 321-242-3632or email@example.com.
By: SpaceCoast Living
“A culinary entertainment complex.” That’s the phrase Beth and Dean DiGiacinto use to express all that The Mansion has to offer.
Part restaurant serving gourmet meals in multiple dining areas; part social gathering spot to drink and mingle with friends; part Italian deli serving sliced-to-order meats and cheeses; part scrumptious bakery; and part wine, beer and spirits cellars – the newly renovated establishment is nothing like this area has ever seen before.
While a project like this may seem like an overwhelming undertaking for a young couple, the DiGiacintos are actually no strangers to an entrepreneurial endeavor such as this.
In 1996, the DiGiacintos, who met in Cincinnati, renovated two circa 1860s buildings in the historic district of Covington, Kentucky to house their first successful fine-dining restaurant with an Italian deli, bakery and market attached. After nearly six years in business, the couple sold the establishment in 2002, and moved to the Space Coast the following year.
A few years ago, Beth and Dean began searching the Melbourne area for a place to open a unique restaurant and bar. At the suggestion of a friend, they toured the site of the former Strawberry Mansion and immediately became enthralled in the history of the property’s charming three-story Victorian home.
“In Melbourne, there is not an abundance of Queen Anne Victorian homes from the early 1900s, so preserving the few that are here is important,” says Dean. “It’s such a landmark in this community.”
In February 2010, the DiGiacintos purchased the property from Bob Brown, the former owner of Strawberry Mansion. While it was important for the DiGiacintos to uphold the integrity of the adored restaurant where so many special occasions took place in its 30-year history, the new owners were ready to infuse their own vision into the space.
And vision they had in spades. After nearly two years of renovations, in January the DiGiacintos officially opened The Mansion featuring six distinct dining areas including a rooftop terrace, cozy tavern and romantic garden, among others.
“(The Mansion) is a place where people can come relax, dine, drink and enjoy Florida,” says Beth. “We offer simple, made-from-scratch foods and great service in a casual atmosphere.”
“Our menu is not overly extensive or complex. We keep it straightforward,” adds Dean. He explains that all foods – from The Mansion’s breads and desserts to its hand-cut filets, fish, hand-formed burgers, brined pork chops and more – are made on premises.
The menu’s creations are accredited to Chef Lon Froneberger who has been a chef at numerous restaurants around the country. Items include fresh salads, such as the Sesame Citrus Tuna Salad and Tortilla Chicken Salad. More substantial entrées include options like the Double-Thick Bone-In Pork Chop which is served with andouille cheddar mashed potatoes and lemon-pepper green beans. The Mansion also boasts a gourmet burger menu, including a Gorgonzola Bacon Burger and a Roadhouse Burger which is topped with barbecue, cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions.
The first level of The Mansion is home to an Italian deli and bakery offering imported and domestic sandwich meats and cheeses that are sliced to order and built on a choice of breads made daily by baker Rolf Schroeder.
Meanwhile, the cellars, The Mansion’s beer, wine and spirits shopping and sampling space, offers an inventory of smaller-batch products that are hard to find and reasonably priced. Its second floor divides domestic and imported wines into two rooms, and an educated team led by the cellars’ manager, John Michalak, can help patrons make selections based on their favorite flavors. Coming soon, The Mansion will open its reserve room featuring wines priced at over $100, as well as a special sake selection.
The DiGiacintos say they try to add a special touch to all The Mansion’s offerings. Says Beth, “We’re constantly adapting and improving every day.”
The Mansion offers plenty of dining options including …
The Tavern: An indoor seating area with 60 beers on tap
The Garden: An al fresco romantic dining area, cool and breezy with lush landscaping
The Terrace: A 4,000 square-foot deck overlooking the Indian River Lagoon with a large, rectangular bar
The Beer Garden: A seating space replete with oversized Bavarian-style picnic tables
Lower Pavilion: A covered area perfect for large parties
To-Go Deli Seating: An area featuring views of the water that can be enjoyed while eating a deli sandwich
Address: 1218 E. New Haven Avenue, Melbourne
Phone: (321) 345-5800
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Features: Multiple indoor and outdoor dining areas; Italian deli and bakery; tavern; 60 beers on tap; wine, beer and spirits cellars
A TREASURED SPACE COAST LANDMARK
What is today known as The Mansion has a rich history in Brevard County dating back to 1905. That’s the year John and Nannie Lee, who lived in Illinois and New York before settling in Melbourne, began construction of the three-story Victorian home. Originally built to serve as a winter getaway for the couple, the home quickly turned into the Lee’s full-time abode where Nannie would host ice cream socials among other community-based activities.
To the west of John and Nannie lived Claude Beaujean, a carpenter and boat builder who helped turn the Lee’s home into a Queen Anne treasure by adding gingerbread trim among other architectural elements. The Beaujean family operated Atlantic Ferry, a service-based business that transported passengers five times a day across the Indian River Lagoon to the beaches.
In 1929, Nannie passed away and the home fell to the care of her adopted daughter, Lily Tidwell. Lily, along with her husband and children, lived there until Lily’s death.
In 1975, the home was purchased by Bob Brown who spent six years renovating it into a restaurant he called Strawberry Mansion. Painted pink, the restaurant quickly became a beloved gathering spot among locals and enjoyed a long run as a fine-dining and social destination before officially closing in 2006.
After sitting vacant for about four years, Beth and Dean DiGiacinto purchased the property in February 2010. After two years of renovations, the DiGiacintos opened The Mansion, a “culinary entertainment complex,” boasting multiple casual dining areas, an Italian deli and bakery and wine, beer and spirits cellars.
Melbourne's Mansion reborn with culinary focus
Sep. 07 floridatoday.com
Where: 1218 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne
Call: 321-345-5800 or Thebigmansion.com
Hours: The cellars, deli and tavern are open from
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday, Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
When Dean and Beth DiGiacinto opened The Mansion in
January, the couple was writing the newest chapter for one of
Melbourne’s oldest buildings.
The house that once was home to the Strawberry Mansion
restaurant sat vacant on a prime and developer-tempting spot, but fate must have had other plans for the historic
structure. During a tough economy, the DiGiacintos had the courage to tackle the large renovation and subsequent
rebirth of the old Queen Anne Victorian, now decked out to properly enjoy the 21st century.
Question:How did the two of you get to this point, Dean?
Dean: Beth is from Cincinnati and a graduate in communications from Xavier University. I’m from San Diego and
got my degree in finance and management from the University of Texas. I audited banks after college, before
becoming an entrepreneur in 1986 with H.D.I.-Motion Picture and Television Equipment Rental, Scalea’S
Ristorante and Hurricane Product Warehouse. Beth joined me at Scalea’S, HPW and now The Mansion.
Q:Why did you go into the restaurant business?
Dean: The hospitality industry is the most exciting and rewarding business. It is ever-changing and fast-paced and
exciting. A great restaurant makes people happy. What could be better than spreading happiness? I got into this
business because it’s what I love to do.
Q:What drew you to the old building?
Dean: The property had phenomenal potential. It was underutilized, unique to the area and in the perfect location
at the end of the Melbourne Causeway. We knew it could be transformed into an atmosphere that celebrates the
Old Florida lifestyle.
Q:A lot of folks remember the restaurant when it was the Strawberry Mansion. How did you guys change it?
Dean: It was a two-year demolition, renovation and construction project. Very little remains from the old
Strawberry Mansion, and the concept is entirely different.
Q:What makes the place unique?
Dean: It begins with the atmosphere of Old Florida with multiple levels and views and tropical landscaping.
http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120905/STYLE01/309050050?fb_action_ids=4182161667459&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_ref=artrectop&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_Page 2 of 2 08/09/2012 19:23 PM
The facility comprises the 1905 three-story Queen Anne Victorian, the tavern, the garden and the terrace. The
concept is a casual culinary entertainment complex.
We have the cellars, which is a package store filled with unique microbrews, wines, micro-distilled spirits along
with the common brands. In the deli and bakery, we have made-to-order sandwiches and breads made fresh every
day and salads to go.
The tavern and terrace are a casual 380-seat restaurant with two bars, 60 beers on tap and multiple gathering areas.
Dean: The entire menu utilizes a la’ minute (to the minute) style of cooking. Everything is prepared to order. We
make all of our foods in the restaurant, except for the french fries, which are frozen. Our breads are baked fresh
daily in our bakery.
We butcher our own seafood, steaks, poultry and pork chops and hand-patty our burgers. We make our own
desserts, soups, sauces, salad dressings, mashed potatoes and even the grain mustard for the pretzel appetizer.
Q:How would you describe the menu?
Dean: Casual upscale American theme with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and seafood
Q: Famous person you'd like to see eating at The Mansion?
Dean: Tough question. There are so many people I admire for their accomplishments in business, science, medical,
tech and entertainment.
Q:Any special events coming up at your place?
Dean: We have started beer dinners. The first one was in collaboration with Dogfish Head Brewery. We have
Bell’s Brewery and Stone Brewery on the schedule. The Stone dinner is going to be hosted by Stone founder Greg
Koch. It’s his only beer dinner in Florida.
Know of a chef or restaurant we should feature? Email Sonnenberg at toastofthecoast@ cfl.rr.com.