When Chrissy Benoit first heard news that a historic home in Boynton Beach was being given away to whoever pitched the best business concept for it, the prospect of opening a new eatery was an opportunity the former Havana Hideout owner couldn't refuse.
Not only did Benoit win the contest, but one year later -- in the summer of 2012 -- she had transformed the old home into a bright, cozy eatery appropriately named The Little House, offering diners a menu meant to celebrate Old South Florida.
Working closely with the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Benoit spent months helping to renovate the historic 1930s Ruth James Cottage, restoring 800-square-foot space -- all of it Dade County pine -- from floor to ceiling. Then she up and moved the entire thing a few miles away, to the restaurant's current location at 480 E. Ocean Ave.
Everything about The Little House was a labor of love, including a concise menu of homestyle, Southern comfort food favorites, like macaroni and cheese and chicken and dumplings.
"It's just a bunch of yummy food," Benoit said in a 2012 interview. "Stuff you won't find anywhere else"
Many dishes could be made from scratch in the restaurant's small kitchen, but most -- as with the dishes at Havana Hideout -- were made off-site at a commissary kitchen in West Palm Beach. Benoit also served her famous homemade sangria, and had more than a dozen rotating craft brews on tap.
Benoit originally conceived The Little House to be an affordable dining option for Boynton Beach residents and locals. Her goal was to help breathe new life into the area, and possibly inspire new businesses to rebuild and rebrand the city.
While she succeeded in building another beautiful establishment with a menu of creative eats, the patrons -- and other businesses she hoped would follow suit -- didn't respond with the turnout she was expecting.
After the restaurant officially closes for business this Saturday, September 13, The Little House will remain vacant until the Boynton Beach CRA finds a new tenant.
Benoit won't be sitting around, however. She has accepted a job with a hospitality management group in Tampa, and is looking forward to some positive change.
"I'm happy. It's a great opportunity," said Benoit. "I'm announcing that Saturday will be our last day, so come by to eat up, drink up, and say goodbye."
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.
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