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Dream comes true for Scottdale's Tea Room chef

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Rachel Basinger | For The Independent-Observer
Dave Stubbs is the newest chef at Miss Martha’s Tea Room and has taken over the entire kitchen operations there.

Dave Stubbs, who at one point began attending a vocational school to become an electrician, has a newfound love for the art of cooking and has taken over the kitchen operations at Miss Martha's Tea Room in Scottdale.

Don Bell, owner of the former Bell's Steakhouse in Laurelville, had originally taken over the tea room's kitchen about three years ago, but just recently Bell decided to leave.

Stubbs, who had been a sort of student of Bell's, has now taken over those operations.

Stubbs said he has been working in the corporate restaurant world — including places like TGI Fridays, Pepperwood Grill and Olive Garden — since he was 16.

“I really was trying to get out of cooking, because being part of the corporate restaurant world is nothing like running your own kitchen,” he said. “I went to Triangle Tech to become an electrician, but while I was there I had to fill out different applications.”

It just so happened that Bell found Stubbs' application and offered him a job.

“I worked for him for about seven years,” said Stubbs of Bell. “He really taught me about food and gave me an appreciation for it.”

Under Bell, Stubbs completed the culinary apprenticeship program at Westmoreland County Community College.

And while Stubbs has always wanted to run his own kitchen, he had no idea that it would happen as soon as it has.

Nate Savanick, co-owner of the tea room with his mother Marty Savanick, said a partnership was formed with Bell to run the kitchen and manage the staff so ownership would only have to focus on the gift shop part of the business.

“In November, when Bell moved on, we extended that same kind of partnership to Dave (Stubbs),” he said. “He was already working at the tea room over the last year under Don (Bell).”

Savanick said Stubbs is young, ambitious and entrepreneurial.

“He's got some new ideas he wants to do with the dinner menu and (Marty Savanick) and I have been working on the marketing end of things with him,” he said. “From our perspective, the partnership is going great. Dave (Stubbs) has great ideas and we're very excited to work with him.”

Stubbs said he couldn't be more grateful to the Savanicks for the opportunity they've given him.

“They're one of the best families I've ever met in my life,” he said. “They would do anything to help me out. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay them.”

Stubbs said he's hoping the customer base will grow at the restaurant.

“I would like to build it into a restaurant more than just a tea room,” he said. “I want it to be a place to get a great meal, but the hardest thing for me is figuring out exactly what I want or what direction to go.”

Beginning this week, Stubbs plans to start focusing on the dinner menu that will include some sandwich, pasta and steak, chicken, crab cakes and other meat options.

Homestyle options such as a hot roast beef sandwich will also be available.

Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and breakfast on Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.