Next to the antique green couch where Kim McCune reclines, an oversized photo capturing a colony of bees in magnified detail takes up the better half of the wall. It's the first thing you'll likely notice in the newly minted Chagrin Falls shop, the aptly named Hungry Bee (8326 East Washington St., 216-925-2515, hungrybeecatering.com), and the picture's scale accentuates every facet of the amazing creatures, right down to their delicate wing structure.
If it seems McCune is uncommonly comfortable up close and personal with bees, it's because she was raised with them in Geauga County. The picture, which she snapped this summer, represents just one of the more than 100 hives belonging to her father's McCune Family Apiaries.
"When most kids were doing tap dance or ballet or gymnastics, I was beekeeping with my father," she recalls.
Before she decided to open her own storefront, McCune had been running a full-service catering company of the same name since 2011. Aided by her chef-husband Jimmy Gibson, who left his post at Sterle's Country House to join her, McCune completely renovated the once-dilapidated building with gleaming black and white tiled floors, vibrant yellow walls and upcycled or thrifted furniture.
The couple, who met while working together at Moxie in Beachwood, still makes use of honey in sauces and vinaigrettes, but their main focus has been hearty take-home dishes. The shop's "Family-Friendly Meal Pick-Ups," usually Mondays and Wednesdays, offer comfort food combos like beef stroganoff and chicken with buttermilk biscuits for a mere $7.95. The motivation behind these best sellers? A growing family of their own.
"We went through a life change in the year and a half when we had our daughter," says McCune. "We understand it's hard to work all day then sit down to a home-style dinner. We want to be the place where everyone can eat. We have upscale items but they don't have to break the bank."
"We're trying to bring some of the higher-end quality of restaurants and make it affordable," adds Gibson. "People raise their families here. We want to be accommodating."
Entrees for the taking rotate daily and include items like herb-roasted pork loin with cranberry chutney and veal Parmesan with a side of thyme-roasted spaghetti squash. Desserts are plentiful and the flaky "fry pies" make for a morning treat.
Outside the food-filled display cases are fully stocked shelves flush with fresh, local selections of teas, nuts, granolas and even soaps and lotions from Cleveland-based companies.
McCune and Gibson will continue to manage their mixed bag of catering events, meal delivery services and private chef gigs. In fact, since opening, they've seen a boost in weddings and corporate events from the sheer number of walk-ins.
"We're pretty versatile in what we do," McCune explains while eyeing up Gibson's attire. "Most days we're here in our flannels and John Deere hats. Tonight we're going to be in our black pants, white chef coats and hats. No day is ever the same."
Constantly changing the menu keeps Gibson on his creative toes, a challenge he's found gratifying since resigning from his restaurant job. In rationalizing his bold career move, Gibson points out that McCune isn't the only one who looks to bloodlines for guidance.
"It got to the point after her first week here, she was so busy, it was either hire someone else or just make the leap," says Gibson. "My great-grandfather took the risk, my grandfather took the risk, my dad and my uncle took the risk. It hits home for me to be able to say I started my own business with my family. I work for myself and I'm going to continue doing what my family's done and make something from nothing."