Founded in 1974 by the father and son team of Charley and Ron Woodsby, Talk of the Town Restaurants, Inc. now encompasses ten restaurants in the Central Florida area including Charley’s Steak House, FishBones, Johnnie’s Hideaway, MoonFish, Texas Cattle Company and Vito’s Chop House.
According to the restaurant’s history, from 1963 to 1983, Charley Woodsby was a co-owner of Gary’s Duck Inn on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. In 1968, Charley, along with William Darden, opened the first Red Lobster in Lakeland. They expanded the restaurants to five in Florida with franchises in Georgia and South Carolina. In 1970, they sold Red Lobster to General Mills, Inc. Red Lobster went on to become one of America’s favorite seafood restaurants with over 680 locations in the United States and Canada.
The Woodsby’s continued their entrepreneurship by opening a steakhouse in 1973 in Lakeland named Talk of the Town and later expanded to four other locations in Winter Haven, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Orlando.
In 1984, the names of the restaurants were changed to Texas Cattle Company and the Orlando location was renamed Charley’s, after the family’s patriarch. The corporate office took on the name Talk of the Town Restaurants, Inc. and today has over 1000 employees with 64 million dollars in sales among ten restaurants.
The Woodsby’s have been personally generous to local charities and have decided to take it a step further in 2016. In keeping with the family tradition of giving back, Clark Woodsby, Senior Operating Partner, has joined his father and grandfather to create a private charity called Talk of the Town Restaurant Group Foundation.
All of the restaurants currently participate in a “Round Up for Charity” program, each month asking guests to round up their checks to the nearest dollar to support local charities throughout Central Florida. Some of these charities in the past have included the Ronald McDonald House, Orlando Magic Foundation, Special Olympics, Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, and more.
This March, through the “Round Up for Charity” program, the restaurants raised $40,108.95 for the Kids Beating Cancer charity.
Kids Beating Cancer is a local Orlando based charity that helps advance cures while providing resources and support for children with cancer, leukemia and related life-threatening diseases throughout the treatment process. The organization pays for the transplant testing and donor identification, costs never covered by Medicare and only partially covered by insurance for the children. By removing these financial barriers any child can have access to bone marrow and stem cell transplantation at the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center located at Florida Hospital for Children, “the best-and-only hope for a cure”.
This March, the Talk of the Town Restaurant Group took it a step further by organizing their annual special fundraising dinner called “John’s Challenge”, where 10 teams competed to raise $10,000 each for Kids Beating Cancer. The challenge is named in memory of John Voight, son of Kids Beating Cancer founder, Margaret Guedes, who lost his life to leukemia at the age of 9.
This year, the “John’s Challenge” helped fundraise an additional $115,860 for the charity, an amazing feat by any measure.
In the last two years, the Talk of the Town Restaurant Group raised $290,666.81 for Kids Beating Cancer through our Round Up for Charity and John’s Challenge campaigns. Since 2016, they have raised almost $1 million, a total of $893,919.57 and counting for local charities in Central Florida!
Their John’s Challenge dinner took place on June 6th, 2019 at Charley’s Steakhouse and we were graciously invited to have an inside look. The evening began with beautiful electric violin music from Michelle Jones of Violectric and passed hors d’ouevres including fried butterfly shrimp and roast lamb chops. The menu included appetizers such as Crispy Portabella Mushroom Fondue and Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallops, entrees – Citrus and Oak Grilled Filet Mignon, Caribbean Lobster Tail, Au Gratin Potatoes, and for dessert – Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel Cheesecake
Here Are Scenes Inside The Talk of the Town Restaurant Group Foundation’s John’s Challenge Dinner for Kids Beating Cancer 2019:
The night began with some beautiful electric violin by Michelle Jones of Violelectric music.
The special drink of the night made with fresh watermelon.
Passed hors d’ oeuvres included butterflied fried shrimp….
…and roasted lamb chops with mint sauce.
The Menu included…
Crispy Portabella Mushroom Fondue
Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallops
Citrus and Oak Grilled Filet Mignon
Caribbean Lobster Tail
Au Gratin Potatoes
Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel Cheesecake
From Left to Right – Brittanie Olavarria – Director of Marketing at Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, Sam Azar – COO & Chairman of the Board at Kids Beating Cancer, Margaret Guedes – President, CEO & Founder at Kids Beating Cancer, Seth Miller – VP/COO at Talk of the Town Restaurant Group
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