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A M AGICA L M I L E S T ON E

Celebrating The 10th Anniversary Of Business Men Of Style.

FE ATURIN G IA L SPEC IONA L OT PROMAT U R E E F

PG. 49

TAKE THIS JOB AND LOVE IT Quan Nguyen is our 2021 Business Man of the Year.

LORD OF THE RING Legendary wrester Afa Anoa’i flexes his faith.

BREWING UP COMPASSION

L A R RY

The Outpouring Coffee helps children in Malawi.

BLEV I NS T he t e a m at Vi l l a ge s I n st it ut e of Pl a st ic S u r ger y ca n br ing a new a nd improved you.


Superior cardiac care from leaders in health. Backed by the experts at UF Health, our cardiac team delivers the superior care you need close to home. As part of the most experienced program in the area, we perform thousands of lifesaving procedures each year, provide a full range of diagnostic services and are consistently recognized as an Accredited Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiology, delivering a proven level of expertise in advanced cardiac care.

Learn more at: TheVillagesHospital.org

Close. Caring. Connected.


EXPANDED ACCESS TO CARE YOU TRUST. At Orlando Health, we’re always looking for ways to improve community health across Central Florida. That’s why we’ve partnered with FHV Health to bring century-strong care to to Lake and Sumter Counties. As Orlando Health Medical Group FHV Health, we’ve combined our partner’s care with our own awarded, trusted expertise to bring nationally recognized heart, vascular and primary care services closer to home. For care you can trust, choose Orlando Health.

OrlandoHealth.com/FHV

ORLANDO HEALTH IS NOW PARTNERS WITH FHV HEALTH.


At Babette’s, we understand that whether you are shopping for one or two rooms or an entire home, it can be overwhelming. Our talented decorators specialize in making the process simple, working with you every step of the way. Scheduling a design consultation whether in our store or in your home, is the perfect way to begin planning a design vision for your home. Whether you are looking for a custom look or want to start with a pre-designed package, our design process is all about each individual customer and we really personalize it. View our design portfolio and schedule an appointment at

www.MyBabettes.com

(352) 617-6001 8345 US Highway 441, Leesburg 3691 Meggison Rd., The Villages


KNEE REPLACEMENT?

OR DO YOU MEAN

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At Advanced Orthopedics Institute we specialize in hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists...and tennis players. Knee pain, stiffness, locking, giving way (buckling), creaking, swelling or inability to walk or play without pain can occur because of traumatic injury, arthritis, or overuse. Depending on the cause, conservative care such as a brace or therapy may relieve the pain. If not, rejuvenative stem cell therapy, arthroscopic knee surgery or partial or total knee replacement can be life-enhancing and allow you to return to your active lifestyle. Get moving. Call 352.751.2862.

G E T A-O K W I T H AO I


John T. Williams, Jr., MD

1400 N US Hwy 441, Suite 552 | The Villages, FL 32159 phone 352.751.2862 | fax 855.420.1047 | goaoi.com

Alfred J. Cook, Jr., MD


ERS LOP EVE D N TIO EN ATT

41846 STATE ROAD 19, UMATILLA, FL 32784 39 Acres with 1500 FT LAKE FRONTAGE, already zoned for Commercial along State Road 19 with Agricultural zoning for the back portion. This property includes: 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath Wood Frame Home built in 1915 with approximately 1,050 SQFT. The value is in the land. Well and Septic are on the property. The electric is connected to the Home. Shop located behind the home for extra storage. $1,395,000 | MLS#G5037483

LY ND RIE F Y IL FAM

4892 NE 123RD LN, OXFORD, FL 34484 GORGEOUS 4 Bedroom, 3.5 Bath corner homesite “Holly” Model in the Family Friendly & Deed Restricted Villages of Parkwood. This FRESHLY PAINTED interior & exterior home comes with a PRIVATE backyard with white vinyl fencing, a great place for entertaining! $299,999 | MLS#G5038459 Y NIT RTU PO P O ESS SIN BU

1540 CR 44A, WILDWOOD, FL 34785 MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE! This TURN-KEY, specialty restaurant offers INCREDIBLE POSSIBILITIES in the bursting area of Wildwood, FL! Harmoniously REZONED to Neighborhood Commercial (NC), comes thoroughly REMODELED from top to bottom, inside and out! This VISIBLE & HIGH TRAFFIC CORNER location offers 1.23 ACRES to ADD-ON. $319,995 | MLS#G50386

E UC SPR

H UT SO EK E CR

10135 SE 178TH PLACE, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 LOVELY 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath Move-

In Ready “Pecan” home in Spruce Creek South, a 55+ Active Adult Gated Golf Community. Newer AC, Roof, Water Heater & W/D. $145,000 | MLS#G5040701

E UC SPR

H UT SO EK E CR

10245 SE 176TH STREET, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 You won’t want to miss this AWESOME 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Custom Dogwood” Model Home (1,726 Sqft Living area) has everything you will need! Perfectly and conveniently located in Spruce Creek South 55+ Gated Golf Community. 2-Car Garage + Golf cart Garage with plenty of storage cabinets, washer, and dryer included. $184,500 | MLS#G5041799

E AG RE AC

14329 SE 170TH ST, WEIRSDALE, FL 32195 Heavily wooded 10 GORGEOUS ACRES offering privacy and seclusion! Let’s build your DREAM HOME right here in this excellent location close to The Villages, Lake Weir & much more. $175,000 | MLS#G5033687

E UC SPR

H UT SO EK E CR

10110 SE 179TH STREET, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 CHARMING Split 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Chestnut” model with a HUGE enclosed lanai located in Spruce Creek South 55+ Gated Golf Community. Home is in immaculate condition and MOVE-IN READY. $164,500 | MLS#G5040431

LD SO

15 MALAUKA TRAIL, OCKLAWAHA, FL 32179 LOVELY Split 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath Block & Stucco home located near Lake Weir in Ocklawaha. Offering a GREAT VALUE with a GRAND living room and natural lighting that opens up to a LARGE backyard. $162,500 | MLS#G5040682


G DIN PEN

E UC SPR

4813 CR 103G, OXFORD, FL 34484 THIS BEAUTIFUL MINI FARM boasts a 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath home nestled on 2 ACRES with a 2 stall barn close to The Villages. A PERFECT homestead for the equine loving family featuring ceramic tile, plus a BRAND NEW upgraded kitchen with Granite Countertops & Stainless Steel Appliances. $470,000 | MLS#G5040432 RS STO VE N I N TIO EN ATT

H UT SO EK E CR

17985 SE 106TH TERRACE, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 Beautiful 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Holly” with open floor plan in Spruce Creek South a 55+ Active Adult Gated Community. NEW ROOF 2021. Enclosed Lanai. $189,900 | MLS# G5042043

DS AN HL HIG L YA RO

5031 SE 115TH STREET, BELLEVIEW, FL 34420 ATTENTION INVESTORS! GREAT LOCATION with SIX Beautiful ACRES ZONED R-3 with Retention pond, TOPO and ENGINEERING reports available. Perfect for Multi-Family and close to shopping, restaurants, medical and much more! $344,900 | MLS#G5031672 ING IST WL NE

21848 KING EDWARD CT, LEESBURG, FL 34748 ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL 4 Bedroom, 2.5 bath POOL HOME in a quiet Cul-De-Sac in the sought-after 55+ Gated Community of Royal Highlands. NEW (2019) Roof. Don’t miss this extraordinary one of a kind home in this premium Gated Community. $334,900 | MLS#G5041185

E OM INC

31838 SUNPARK CIRCLE, LEESBURG, FL 34748 Beautiful corner homesite featuring 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath with Den. This elevated lot offers a fenced-in backyard with front and rear porches. Open Floor Plan loaded with upgrades including a gourmet kitchen and BRAND NEW Laminate Flooring. $319,900 |MLS# G5040968

G! CIN DU O PR

1104 BECKER AVE, THE VILLAGES, FL 32163 TURNKEY-FURNISHED 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Avondale” Courtyard Villa in THE VILLAGE of PINE RIDGE. This block and stucco CORNER homesite with a TWO-CAR GARAGE and privacy wall is Tenant-Occupied until JUNE 2022. $334,500 | MLS# G5027614

Sharon Bassett, Owner/Broker 352.307.2925 / BassettPremierRealty.com Spruce Creek Professional Plaza / 10935 SE 177th Place, Suite 201, Summerfield


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JUN'21 V.17

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CONTENTS 1 of 2

032

FEATURES

Happy anniversary Style celebrates the 10th anniversary of its popular annual “Business Men of Style” edition by taking you on a grand trip down memory lane and catching up with past participants. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN, VICTORIA SCHLABIG, THERESA CAMPBELL, JAMES COMBS

044 Taking care of business

Meet Quan Nguyen, Lake and Sumter Style’s 2021 Business Man of the Year. He’s in the business of succeeding, and business is booming. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

049

SPECIAL ADVERTISIN G SEC TIO N

The 2021 Business Men of Syle Meet some of Lake and Sumter counties’ most successful men.

072

Good coffee with a great purpose Business is percolating at the Outpouring Coffee in Clermont, which brews up generosity and love for schoolchildren and families in Malawi. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1


We Listen. We Care.

352.350.1161

TBFinancialGroup.com 3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F-2, Fruitland Park, FL 34731

ANNUITIES 101 SEMINARS FOR JUNE CALL TO REGISTER!

June 15th | 9:30 a.m. June 29th | 9:30 a.m. BROWNWOOD HOTEL & SPA 3003 BROWNWOOD BLVD., THE VILLAGES

Seating is very limited and by RSVP only. TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters. Investment advisory services offered by duly registered individuals through ChangePath, LLC a Registered Investment Adviser. ChangePath, LLC and TB Wealth Management, LLC are unaffiliated entities.

STEVE SCHNEIDER, INVESTMENT ADVISOR, TB WEALTH MANAGEMENT LIZ CORNELL, CAS®, CEO, TB FINANCIAL GROUP


JUN'21 V.17

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CONTENTS 2 of 2

DEPARTMENTS

first

021

THE HIT LIST 022 PERSON OF INTEREST 026 OUTSTANDING STUDENT 028

agenda

022

026 028 088

083

TO-DO LIST 084 LOCAL TALENT 088 SOCIAL SPOTLIGHT 090 HI, SOCIETY 092

healthy living

099

084 100

090 102

INSPIRATION 100 HEALTHY SPIRIT 102

menu

107

118

108 112

IN THE KITCHEN 108 FORK ON THE ROAD 112 DINING GUIDE 114 SPIRITS 118

A M AGICA L M I L E S T ON E

CELEBR AT I NG T H E 10T H A N N I V ER SA RY OF BUSI N E S S M EN OF ST Y LE .

A M AGICA L M I L E S T ON E

Celebrating The 10th Anniversary Of Business Men Of Style.

columns FROM THE PUBLISHER 016 AT YOUR SERVICE 017 FINAL THOUGHT 120

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1

E ON TH R C OV E

SPECIAL PROMOT IONAL FEATUR E

FE ATURIN G

PG. 49

M M X X I

SPECIALNAL PROMOTIO FEATURE

PG. 49

TAKE THIS JOB AND LOVE IT Quan Nguyen is our 2021 Business Man of the Year.

LORD OF THE RING

BUSI N ESS M A N OF TH E Y EA R

Legendary wrester Afa Anoa’i flexes his faith.

BREWING UP COMPASSION

120

L A R RY TAKE THIS JOB AND LOVE IT

LORD OF THE RING

BREWING UP COMPASSION

Quan Nguyen is our 2021 Business Man of the Year.

Legendary wrestler Afa Anoa’i flexes his faith.

The Outpouring Coffee helps children in Malawi.

The Outpouring Coffee helps children in Malawi.

BLEV I NS T he t e a m at Vi l l a ge s I n st it ut e of Pl a st ic S u r ger y ca n br ing a new a nd improved you.

Lake and Sumter Style

Village Edition

Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Quan Nguyen

Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Larry Blevins


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352.674.2080 | villageheartandvein.com 8575 NE 138th Lane, Suite 203, Lady Lake 708 Physician Court, Suite 2, Leesburg


FROM THE PUBLISHER

Celebrating a milestone in style It’s time to reflect back on a very special advertising section. ith great excitement and enthusiasm I proudly present the 10th Annual Business Men of Style. When we premiered our first Business Men of Style in June 2011, little did we know that this would become one of the most read and talked about issues of the year, and every year moving forward. We’ve had lots of fun with the different themes as we provided the opportunity for local businessmen to present their personalities, accomplishments, and goals. Through the years we have showcased men in old-time movie settings, gangster costumes, and even

built a game board to feature a local physician’s group. It’s been a tremendous amount of fun for our team and for all who participated. The best aspect of the Business Men of Style was born when we decided to offer a reverse drawing to select the businessman who would be featured on the cover of the June issue to represent the overall theme of the issue. But how could we make that decision ourselves with so many amazing men to choose from? We couldn’t, so we left it up to fate and every year we do a reverse drawing where the last name that is drawn is the Style agazine Business Man of the Year. Being on the cover of the area’s most-read magazine is quite the prize. Style magazine is read by over 200,000 local residents via our print edition,

website, social media platforms, and our digital editions. With that said, please join me in congratulating this year’s lucky winner, and the 2021 Style magazine Business Man of the Year, Quan Nguyen. Thank you to all who have participated this year and over the past 10 years. And thank you for allowing us here at Style to reach this new milestone. We hope that we can continue to share these great, entertaining issues with our readers for many more years to come. Sincerely,

Have a story to tell? We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to editorial@akersmediagroup.com.

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Kendra Akers Doug Akers

OWNER/PUBLISHER kendra@akersmediagroup.com

DESIGN

/

AT YOUR SERVICE

PRESIDENT doug@akersmediagroup.com

PHOTOGRAPHY

/

EDITORIAL

Michael Gaulin James Combs

SENIOR DESIGNER michael@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER james@akersmediagroup.com

Volkan Ulgen Theresa Campbell

ART DIRECTOR volkan@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER theresa@akersmediagroup.com

Megan Mericle Victoria Schlabig

GRAPHIC DESIGNER megan@akersmediagroup.com

A M AGICA L M I L E S T ON E

CELEBR AT I NG T H E 10T H A N N I V ER SA RY OF BUSI N E S S M EN OF ST Y LE .

Anthony Rao

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/ VIDEOGRAPHER anthony@akersmediagroup.com

/

TAKE THIS JOB AND LOVE IT Quan Nguyen is our 2021 Business Man of the Year.

PG. 49

LORD OF THE RING

BUSI N ESS M A N OF TH E Y EA R

Legendary wrester Afa Anoa’i flexes his faith.

L A R RY

CON TRIBUTIN G WRITER S

CON TRIBUTIN G ED IT OR

M A RK ETIN G

Tim McRae

VICE PRESIDENT, SALES tim@akersmediagroup.com

Melanie Melvin Shaena Long

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING melanie@akersmediagroup.com

FE ATURIN G SPECIAL ONAL PROMOTI FEATURE

M M X X I

BREWING UP COMPASSION

Gary Corsair SALES

SPONSORED BY

SPECIA PROMO L TIONAL FEATUR E

PG. 49

STAFF WRITER roxanne@akersmediagroup.com

Joe Angione Nicole Hamel Kathy Porter

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER nicole@akersmediagroup.com

Celebrating The 10th Anniversary Of Business Men Of Style.

2021

Douglas Tyler Roxanne Brown

DIGITAL ART DIRECTOR douglas@akersmediagroup.com

A M AGICA L M I L E S T ON E

STAFF WRITER victoria@akersmediagroup.com

ADVERTISING COORDINATOR shaena@akersmediagroup.com

ADMI N IS TRATION Aubrey Akers Simmons OFFICE MANAGER aubrey@akersmediagroup.com

TAKE THIS JOB AND LOVE IT

LORD OF THE RING

BREWING UP COMPASSION

Quan Nguyen is our 2021 Business Man of the Year.

Legendary wrestler Afa Anoa’i flexes his faith.

The Outpouring Coffee helps children in Malawi.

The Outpouring Coffee helps children in Malawi.

BLEV I NS

Wings on water

T he t e a m at Vi l l a ge s I n st it ut e of Pl a st ic S u r ger y ca n br ing a new a nd improved you.

Lake County is a premier seaplane destination.

MAKING TRACKS

Explore miles of lush hiking trails.

BURSTING WITH CHARM Small towns with big personalities.

Hot off the press! The latest editions of Lake & Sumter Style, Village Edition Style, and Welcome to Lake County.

Get yours Subscriptions: Order a subscription of your favorite magazine to be delivered directly

to your home for just $84. Each subscription includes 12 consecutive issues of Lake & Sumter Style and Village Edition Style. Choose 2 or more magazines for $108 per year. To order, call 352.787.4112 or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Change of Address: If you are a seasonal resident or have moved, send your address change request to general@akersmediagroup.com or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Back Issues: Order a single issue by mail for $8. To pick up a back issue from our office, please call 24 hours in advance.

DI S TRIBUTION Scott Hegg

DISTRIBUTION MANAGER scott.hegg@akersmediagroup.com

Akers Media is a proud member of

Digitize your life Visit the Apple or Android app store today and download the Lake & Sumter Style online magazine app for your mobile device.

Find us on social media

Simply the best

Winner of 200+ Awards for Excellence

Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2021 by Akers Media. All rights reserved. Lake & Sumter Style is a registered trademark of Akers Media. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For back issues or billing information, call 352.787.4112. Return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts and artwork if they are to be returned. Manuscripts are welcomed, but no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. “Paid Promotional Feature” denotes a paid advertising feature. Publisher is not responsible for claims or contents of advertisements. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of Akers Media.

2021

Do you have a favorite restaurant? A doctor you admire? A financial advisor whom you trust? Well, be sure to vote for them in our annual Best of the Best competition, which showcases the best of everything in Lake and Sumter counties. You can vote by visiting lakeandsumterstyle.com June 1st through July 15th, and don’t forget to check out August issue for the complete list of winners. AKERSMEDIAGROUP.COM • 352.787.4112

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Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (left) Jesse Knapp, Salesperson (right)

Mike Killngsworth

P L AZ A CA D I L L AC “I am very pleased with Plaza Cadillac. Escalades are extremely hard to find, but my salesman Jesse went out of his way to find the one I wanted. I will be more than happy to tell anyone about the excellent way I was treated.” — MIKE KILLNGSWORTH

8893 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1323 | P L AZ A C A D I L L AC . CO M


Jay Bitzer, Salesperson (left) Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (right)

Anthony and Rose Curiale

P L AZ A L I N CO L N We purchased a new 2020 Lincoln Nautilus from Plaza Lincoln. What a pleasure dealing with the staff of the dealership, very polite and professional, especially our sales agent Jay Bitzer. He is very knowledgeable and courteous, and really works hard to get your business. This is not the first Lincoln we purchased from them and it probably won’t be the last. — ANTHONY AND ROSE CURIALE

8925 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1255 | P L AZ A L I N C O L N O F L E E S B U R G . CO M


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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1

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first PEOPLE. COMMENTARY. NEWS.

Chad Massey, an aspiring pastor, always keeps the faith.

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THE HIT LIST

BEACH READ Now that beach season is upon us, it’s a perfect time to catch up on your reading. Pick up a few beach reads at one of the 16 libraries in Lake County to take on your next staycation. With a Lake County library card, you can also rent free audiobooks via the app Libby, where you can find hundreds of new and classic books to enjoy by popping in your earbuds while getting your tan on. To look for books, find a library near you, or learn about other library programs, visit mylakelibrary.org.

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1


SAVORING SUMMER Eager to learn some tips on grilling, marinating and savoring the taste of summer salads? The UF/IFAS Lake County Extension Office, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares, will be the place to be 10 a.m. to noon on June 12 for a Flavors of Summer class led by Lori Johnson, family and consumer science agent for Lake County. This will be the first in-person class in 2021; the extension has hosted virtual classes throughout the coronavirus pandemic. To learn more about the class, visit the extension’s events page: sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/events

PROUD HAWKS CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY MILESTONE Lake Minneola High School (LMHS), one of eight high schools in Lake County, and one of the first in Central Florida to implement an iPad-based education, turns 10 this year. The 9-12 grade school, located in Minneola near the turnpike entrance off Hancock Road, is known as the ‘Home of the Hawks’ in recognition of the school’s mascot. Linda Shepherd-Miller, lovingly known as “Mama Hawk” to students and parents, has been the school’s principal since the school opened. She’s also known for the positivity she exudes about all her students and the confidence she has in them. Mama Hawk reminds students every chance she gets with the mantra: “Remember, Hawks are always Honorable, Academicallyfocused, Wise, Kind-hearted and Successful.” This year, LMHS will see the completion of a multi-million-dollar expansion that will feature 18 new classrooms, two new specialty labs, 480 new seats for students and a new outdoor dining area.

HONORING DAD It wasn’t until 1972 – some 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official – that dads officially got their day. It was in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign when former President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday. Father’s Day 2021 falls on June 20.

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THE HIT LIST

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ALMOST A CROWNING MOMENT This month’s Belmont Stakes in New York will conclude the 2021 Triple Crown. While Lake County is not a hotbed for horse racing, the county did produce a horse that ran in two Triple Crown races. In 1991, Green Alligator, which was born at the now defunct Florida Training Center in Lake Jem, finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Green Alligator was in last place at the halfway mark before a big stretch drive allowed the horse to finish four lengths behind the winner, Strike the Gold. Green Alligator qualified for the Kentucky Derby after emerging victorious in the California Derby in April 1991. Unfortunately, the horse did not fare as well in the Belmont Stakes, finishing in 10th place out of 11 horses.

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BOOK IT TO DOWNTOWN CLERMONT FOR SOME GOOD READS The Sunshine Book Co. recently celebrated its grand opening in downtown Clermont with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the South Lake Chamber of Commerce. The independent bookstore owned by 18-year Clermont resident Beth Merrick is located at 647 Lake Ave. inside a historic home built in 1915. “We were just so lucky to find this location, and I fell in love with the charm of this old house,” Beth says. “It just felt so perfect with what I had in mind, as far as the concept and stuff. It’s so unique and it really represents the old charm of Clermont.”

Beth says opening a bookstore has been a longtime dream of hers, though she’d never pursued it. After being furloughed from her 27-year job at Disney in the midst of the pandemic, she decided to bring her dream to life. Today, though she has been called back to her job at Disney, she runs the business with help from her husband and children. What people will see when they walk through the doors of The Sunshine Book Co., is a huge array of books for all ages, interests, and genres, with a dedicated children’s room. There are also baked goods prepared by The Simple Scone Bakeshop (including an exclusive Sunshine Book Co. flavor), and unique gift items like stationery, cards, stickers, and more, created by fellow furloughed or laid off Disney Cast members and other local vendors. To further engage the community, Beth has also started two separate book clubs, one for adults and one for teens, a children’s story time, and hosts visits and book signings from local authors. Beth says she is grateful for all the support she’s received from so many. “I’d been out for a while and we just kind of thought, ‘Hey, we don’t have a bookstore in town right now, so let’s go ahead and do this.’” she adds. “I knew we’d have some interest and support, but oh my gosh, all the people we’ve met, the downtown community, the Chamber and other businesses, have just welcomed us with open arms. We’ve just been overwhelmed by the support and excitement.” The Sunshine Book Co. is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours during special downtown events. It is closed Mondays. For more information, visit sunshinebookco.com, facebook.com/ sunshinebookco or call 352.404.6077.

DIFFERENT STROKES The nation’s fastest-growing participation sport is taking flight in Lake County as novice and experienced players alike are giving disc golf a spin. The game is similar to golf, except participants attempt to get a disc into a metal basket on a five-foot tall pole in as few throws as possible. The sweet sound of plastic disc on metal chain means participants have completed a hole and can move to the next one. The public can enjoy the following disc golf courses in Lake County: • Lakehawk Landing at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg. • Palmetto Trails in Eustis. • Champions Pointe DGC at Lake Hiawatha Preserve in Clermont. • Nature Park DGC in Mount Dora. • Lincoln Park in Mount Dora.


PERSON OF INTEREST

PEO PLE

Chad Weber Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman and public information officer serves 11 counties. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL

L V I TA AT S ST

• 38 years old. • Lives in Leesburg. • Born in Minnesota.

• Employed with FWC for 12 years. • Proud father of son, Landon, 12.

• Served with the U.S. Marines.

My desire to work for FWC began: When I was younger, I saw some officers and I always thought that it was a very interesting job. When I got out of the Marines, I applied knowing it would be appealing to be outdoors all the time and operating boats out on the water. You kind of get the best of law enforcement in being able to help people and work with animals.

Unforgettable career moments: I’ve been on hurricane response details, and also the (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. With FWC, we are state officers, and we were working with the local law enforcement in the Pensacola area locating where some of the oil was coming in from offshore. I’ve also worked down in the Florida Keys and dealt with an individual who found a kilo of

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

cocaine floating and he decided to test it and was overdosing offshore.

Other parts of my job: I’m the regional public information officer, so I cover 11 counties in my area. I work with several different agencies putting together special events, and there are times we coordinate with the governor’s office. One of my favorite things are the outreaches that we do at schools; the kids always ask such great questions.

My hero as a child: My dad. ‘Wow’ factor moments: When we bring in alligators, little kids think it’s great. The kids also love it when I bring an airboat or an ATV; we do have cool toys. On my bucket list: To travel and see the West Coast of the United States and go to Australia. In my free time: I enjoy spending time with my son, Landon. We do a lot of outdoor activities and I like to fish. My happy place is on my boat fishing.

What I wish more people knew or did: You do not have to be a Fish and Wildlife officer to protect Florida’s natural resources. It starts with cleaning up trash or simply getting involved if you see something that doesn’t seem to be right.

Know a person of interest? Tell us!

Email your recommendation to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

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CELEBRATING

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OUTSTANDING STUDENT

PEO PLE

Chad Massey Reborn Christian out to serve others through biblical counseling and Jesus.

VITAL STATS

INTERVIEWER: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

• • • • •

≈ PHOTO: DOUGLAS TYLER

2021 graduate of Umatilla High School. Has 2 half-sisters, 3 stepbrothers, and 1 stepsister. Attends Bay Street Baptist Church in Eustis. Became a Christian in January 2020. Will attend Reformation Bible College in Sanford.

• Plans to earn master’s in divinity at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky. • Has received recognition for solo and ensemble performances at both district and state level for flute and percussion.

What got you interested in the career path of divinity? I’ve always been interested in helping people in any way, so originally, I wanted to go into nursing thinking I could make good money off of that. I became a Christian last year and realized the money thing shouldn’t be much of a matter, so I was going to become a firefighter. But then I realized there’s a different way that I could help people, and so I figured I could counsel people biblically, so that’s why I chose to go this route.

Best advice you’ve been given? From my grandma - “Keep truckin’ along.” Favorite bible verse? It’s like a cluster of them, Matthew 11:28-30. Because in the verse, Jesus invites people to come to him, because He says: ‘Come to me, all you who labor, and I will give you rest.’ So, in that, Jesus is talking to these people under the Pharisees and the Judaizers and the heavy suppressed law, and it’s this weight that they have to carry on their backs. But Jesus is saying that that’s not the way with Him because with Him you will have rest. And he continues in the verse and says: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, you will find rest for your souls.’ Jesus isn’t talking about physical rest but spiritual rest. What would you do with $1 million? I probably would donate it to missionaries, but you have to be careful because money can be a trap in many ways, but the first thing I would want to do is try to give it away and not hold on to it because once you die you can’t take it with you.

Who is someone you look up to? My youth pastor, Bryan Totten. Know an outstanding student? Fill us in! Email your recommendations to victoria@akersmediagroup.com

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Suited for

BUSINESS Style reflects back on one of our most highly anticipated issues. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG, JAMES COMBS, ROXANNE BROWN, THERESA CAMPBELL


ake and Sumter Style is reaching a milestone this month. Care to guess what it is? Here, the lyrics of a popular ZZ Top song may provide a hint. Clean shirt, new shoes And I don’t know where I am goin’ to Silk suit, black tie I don’t need a reason why They come runnin’ just as fast as they can ‘Cause every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man Did “clean shirt,” black tie,” and “sharpdressed man” help? No? OK, we’ll serve you the answer on a silver platter. We’re referring to the popular Business Men of Style. Our publication is celebrating the 10th anniversary of this special advertising section, and we feel this issue represents an appropriate time to reflect back on the past decade. The sharp-dressed men featured in Business Men of Style throughout the years represent diverse professions – doctors, chiropractors, Realtors, electricians, financial advisors, business owners, landscapers, and more – however, they all possess the same qualities. They make enormous impacts in their respective fields, open unique opportunities for others, and dare to dream big. At the same time, they care deeply about their families and communities. In 2013, we transformed Business Men of Style into an extravagant event by inviting a special group of men to our office to enjoy a fun-filled evening of camaraderie, food, and drinks. We also held a reverse drawing. The winner that year, Joe Ziler of Kevco Builders, appeared on the cover and also received a free four-page inside spread. This concept presented an even bigger incentive for local Business Men to participate in the issue. “It’s a promotional event that is very entertaining and nerve-racking at the same time,” says Kendra Akers, owner and publisher of Lake and Sumter Style. “When our reverse drawing gets down to the last three people, you can feel the excitement in the room. The looks on some of their faces over the years is something I’ll never forget.” So suit up and enjoy this ride down memory lane. These sharp-dressed men love getting down to business. L

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BUSINESS MEN OF STYLE PARTIES One of the highlights of the Business Men of the Year gala was a chance for the men to meet and enjoy a relaxing night of appetizers, drinks, and watch the reverse drawing to see who would grace the magazine cover as the Business Man of the Year. Jessica “Jessy” Flinn, owner and executive chef of Gourmet Today, catered a few of these parties in the arena of the Leesburg Opera House, where Akers Media publishes Style magazine. “We love a party and a good theme, and the Business Men of Style mixers have always been both,” says Jessy. “One of my favorites for the men was the sports night theme. Bob Tucker had done this amazing backdrop where it looked like you were sitting at a bar and with barstools, and we love to coordinate our foods to match the party.” Jessy recalls that in planning the food for the sports bar party theme, she came up with “the fun stuff like jalapeno popper dip, pepperoni cheese bread, guacamole with all sorts of different fun flavored chips, just all of the fun things we’d want to eat if we were at the bar or at a game.” Another party theme she loved was the nightclub vibe with cool lighting, music, high top tables and chairs. “I loved working with Bob because he creates the coolest layouts in that space,” she says, adding that it was fun to come up with foods to complement the theme. Bob Tucker remembers the first Business Men of Style gala was hosted at Mission Inn Resort and Club and featured a James Bond party theme with high-top tables and vases wrapped with pictures from James Bond movies. “They were just getting started with it, and the gala parties didn’t really explode until after they (Akers Media) moved downtown. Once they had the Opera House building, there was so much to work with and the imaginations just went wild, that was everything from Doug and Kendra Akers’ input on the theme, Fred Lopez and the different photographers over the years each had their own little twist on what the theme was,” says Bob. “And when I was called in to set up the party, there would be another twist on the imagination. So, it was really just a lot of creativity that went into those events, and there were a lot of behind the scenes things that were literally months in the making,” he adds. Bob remembers the 2019 gala as his favorite, the year of the gangsterthemed photo shoot. “For the party, we converted long tables into pool tables, and we had it decorated like a men’s club,” says Bob, adding that projectors were used to shine gangster-like images along with the look of a long bar across the wall. Tables were raised high with barstools. “It was fun transforming the room into a big men’s club,” says Bob. “It was just one of the coolest parties we did.”


REFLECTIONS OF PAST PARTICIPANTS JOE CICERI Coaches are fond of saying that “practice makes perfect,” but when it comes to winning the Business Men of Style contest, the phrase should be slightly tweaked to “patience makes perfect.” Joe Ciceri, owner of Electrical Works, was a regular participant in Business Men of Style before finally breaking through and winning in 2017. “There are always a lot of other men in the room during the drawing, so the competition is very tough,” Joe says. “When I won, I was very surprised and excited at the same time. It was just my turn, I guess.” Though Joe tends to shun the limelight, he couldn’t avoid the dozens of people who approached him after seeing his photo on the cover. “People were happy for me,” he recalls. “One of the great things about Style is that readers can flip the pages and see people they know, and I think that’s why the magazine is so popular. My friends and family were excited to see me on the cover.” For Joe, persistence led to free publicity. “It gave me an opportunity to showcase my company on a larger scale because I won the cover and four inside pages,” he says. “I enjoyed the overall experience—from the cover shoot to the interview. I thought the final product turned out fantastic.”

BOB TUCKER Bob Tucker, a florist and owner of Events by Miss Daisy, has not only contributed to memorable parties as a planner, he’s appeared in six magazine issues as a Business Man of Style. “The photo shoots were always fun because each year there was always a different theme. It was always fun to get into character for the photos,” he says. “I always got lots of comments about being in the magazine,” recalls Bob. “I walked into Wolfy’s, one of the places where they had a magazine stand, and people would come up and say, ‘Oh, my gosh, I just saw you in Style, can I have your autograph?’ It was hilarious.”

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JOE ZILER

“BUILDING HOUSES IS WHAT I DO, HELPING OTHER PEOPLE IS WHO I AM.” —JOE ZILER

Winning the 2013 Business Men of Style reverse drawing brings back a flood of emotions for Joe Ziler. Weeks prior to the drawing, his brother, Mike Ziler, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was only 41 and left behind a 17-year-old daughter, Kara Jo. “I remember standing there when it got down to three and closing my eyes and thinking, ‘Come on, Mike, help me win this.’” For Joe, gracing the cover of Style generated lots of positive feedback. In fact, Joe changed his Facebook handle to “Sylin’ Joe Ziler,” a reflection of his fun personality. “The cover was accompanied by a well-written article by James Combs titled ‘Home Boy,’” Joe recalls. “The article was a walk down memory lane for me all the way back to my childhood influences in construction, most notably my lifelong friend Mr. Roy Teter, who passed away at 96 the year after the article.” In 2013, Joe signed up for Business Men of Style as a representative of his company, Kevco Builders. This year, he is representing the MIKE Endowment, a nonprofit organization he started in his brother’s name. MIKE is an acronym for Mental Illness and Kindness Endowment. Through the organization, he has provided backpacks for homeless people and built transitional homes for children aging out of the foster care system. “Building houses is what I do,” he says. “Helping other people is who I am.” Readers will notice that in this month’s issue, Joe shares a page with Isaac Deas, a licensed mental health counselor and owner of Deas Consulting LLC in Tavares. Joe’s organization has funded $15,000 for people to receive free counseling with Isaac during the coronavirus pandemic. To date, more than 60 people have been helped. “For me, things have come full circle since I won Business Men of Style in 2013,” Joe says. “Isaac was my grief counselor when my brother died and now here we are providing free counseling for others.”

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ISAAC DEAS The namesake of Deas Consulting, LLC describes his appearance in Business Men of Style issues in 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2021 as “wonderful.” Isaac says being featured has resulted in new referrals, but he’s also enjoyed learning more about people in the community who have been featured. “When I get new clients, I always ask, ‘How do you know me? How did you hear about me?’ A good two dozen have said they saw my picture in Style Magazine,” Isaac says, explaining that he also reads the magazine for his own reference. “Also, I use it a lot of times for my own knowledge, because sometimes I know people, or know I’ve seen them, but I don’t really know what they do, then I see them in the magazine, and I say, ‘Oh, that’s what you do,’” says Isaac. “It’s helped me get to know people in my own community that I otherwise wouldn’t have known too much about. It’s helped me tremendously, but It’s been wonderful for me too.” Isaac can testify to the spectacular reach and vibe of the magazine. “I’ve gotten the impression that people really enjoy the magazine because of the variety of people and subjects that are covered, and you’re always looking in there to see people that you know. Style has become a household name, which is really good,” Isaac says. Isaac says that his entire experience, from being interviewed and photographed, and selecting which photo to use, has been enjoyable. Isaac especially loves how the Akers’ photographers use music in the studio during photo sessions to relax their subjects, and the most recent photo session for June 2021 was no exception. “What a wonderful staff. Nicole was very pleasant and helpful, and Douglas has a beautiful sense of humor. But the music is key. I just love it because it kind of just calms you down and makes you feel comfortable and less nervous,” Isaac says of Akers’ Photographers Douglas Tyler and Nicole Hamel. “My mind was not just on the pictures, but on the music, so I was just vibing.”

“STYLE HAS BECOME A HOUSEHOLD NAME, WHICH IS REALLY GOOD.” —ISAAC DEAS

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MICHAEL BRASHEAR Michael Brashear was on the cover of the 2016 issue as the Business Man of the Year. He was dressed in a black suit and purple shirt, which was a far cry from his typical workday attire of shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops, he sported when he owned Anytime Fitness gyms in Lake and Sumter counties and Key West. “The photo shoot definitely showed the entrepreneur side of me,” Michael told Style in a previous interview. “I did get tons of recognition from the community of being on the cover.”

TIM SIMPSON Tim Simpson, co-owner of Renew Day Spa, appeared in the 2017 issue of Business Men of Style, the same year he and his wife Dina opened their spa in downtown Leesburg with the goal of replicating what they had owned in New York. “It was great to get exposure from a male perspective as a business owner, away from the target audience of females,” says Tim. “Style magazine is touched by a higher-end clientele, so that definitely helped us get exposure for the spa on a business end.” Tim appeared happily relaxed sitting on a tall stool for his photo shoot. “I remember there were a lot of rainbow colors in the photos,” Tim says of the creative design of the 2017 issue of Business Men of Style. Once the magazine came out, Tim experienced life as a celebrity. “Oh, yeah,” he says with a chuckle, “several people wanted my autograph.”


TED WATERMAN Ted Waterman graced the June 2019 cover in a cool, smoky gangster-themed photo shoot to promote Umatilla-based Waterman Construction Corp., which he and his wife Gina started in 1993. “I was really shocked; I didn’t think I was going to win,” Ted said after the 2019 gala honoring Lake and Sumter County men and their professions, and also the reverse drawing to determine the cover winner as Business Man of the Year. “I’ve gotten teased every time somebody sees me,” Ted said in a previous interview about being the 2019 winner. “It was a fantastic experience, and the photo shoot was a lot of fun. Seeing myself on the cover was pretty cool and flattering. And we did get some new jobs from it, as a matter of fact, so the exposure was all good. We’re really blessed and we’re really happy.”

DR. FERNANDO SERRA Dr. Fernando Serra of Central Florida Plastic Surgery has been participating in Business Men of Style every two years since 2018 and has always had a great experience. “Business Men of Style has been very effective in representing my practice in a really wonderful light, and to be grouped with other prominent men of business in the area just makes me feel good. Ultimately it’s been a fantastic program,” he says. The chance to appear on the cover is an added value in Dr. Serra’s opinion, and though he hasn’t won the cover – yet – he

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hopes to one year. He’s received many compliments from patients who have seen him featured in Business Men of Style. “After the magazine comes out, because of the beautiful imagery we’re portrayed in, I always get people saying, ‘I saw you in Business Men of Style, you look awesome doc,’ so it’s been very complimentary in addition to my regular presence with Lake and Sumter Style,” he says. “The photoshoots are a lot of fun, especially with the creative lighting, and the photographer makes you comfortable so it’s a piece of cake,” Dr. Serra adds.


LARRY BLEVINS Larry Blevins, CEO of the Village Institute of Plastic Surgery, is celebrating a milestone with us – he’s been in all 10 Lake and Sumter Style Magazine’s Business Men of Style issues since its inception in 2011. He says the entire experience has been notably fun and beneficial from an marketing perspective. “It’s one of those annual things that we enjoy doing. It gives us the opportunity to do a little bit of advertising, but in a different way,” Larry says. “In our clinic, we normally advertise services or specials, but this is one of those things where we just highlight us as providers.” According to Larry, every year they get at least five messages where people say, ‘Yeah, I saw your picture in Style Magazine,’ and then, they’ll make a comment,” he explains. As for the overall experience, Larry says it’s surprisingly enjoyable and something all the business men in the entire office look forward to participating in each year. “We don’t just get all dressed up; we kind of put a little bit of thought into our look and feel,” Larry says, adding that for him, it’s a whole new world. “It’s my only time in the year that I get to do some form of modeling or photographs and it’s a little comical because it’s outside of my normal comfort zone,” Larry adds. “But Akers always goes out of their way to make it inviting and pleasant, and we really enjoy it.” Douglas says shooting Larry and the rest of the men in the office has been a great experience because everyone puts thought into the image they want to portray. Larry says the best part of being in the special edition is what it does for Village Institute of Plastic Surgery patients. “We really love being part of Business Men of Style, because It allows people to identify with us personally, and actually get to know us, by giving them a little story about us. They get to see us in a different light, other than what they would get from just a normal medical advertisement,” Larry says. “It’s the perfect personal touch.”

“IT’S ONE OF THOSE ANNUAL THINGS THAT WE ENJOY DOING. IT GIVES US THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO A LITTLE BIT OF ADVERTISING, BUT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.” — L A R RY B L EV I N S

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CREATING A MASTERPIECE For the magazine’s employees, Business Men of Style is one of the most exciting and rewarding projects they undertake. Creative minds from the art, photography, and editorial departments come together during pre-planning to ensure the section is executed flawlessly. For photographer Douglas Tyler, Business Men of Style allows him to look at photography through a different lens. “I really try and figure out where we need to go to make it a good experience, a good day for them, because who knows what’s happening 30 minutes before they get to this photo shoot, or who knows what they’re planning afterwards,” Douglas says. “All I know is for the time I have them, they’re in my world and I get to treat them in a way that most people will never get to experience. This is a big magazine that tons of people read, so I just try to make sure that when they walk away from the shoot, they remember it. I want this to be an experience they’ll never forget.”

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“I WANT THIS TO BE AN EXPERIENCE THEY’LL NEVER FORGET.” —DOUGLAS TYLER

Kendra waits excitedly to see our famous eye-catching covers. “The client mostly inspires the design. We try to create a look that matches their profession or personality. The cover photoshoots always match whatever ‘theme’ we have decided on for any given year of Business Men of Style, but the Business Men have some room for creativity within that theme. Looking back at our cover features you can see the winners’ personalities come through in their photos, thanks to our amazing photographers.”


2013

2014

2015

Business Men of Style reverse drawing winners 2013-Joe Ziler 2014-Ryan Veraghen 2015-Dr. Karsten Weber 2016-Michael Brashear 2017-Joe Ciceri 2018-Bryan Smith 2019-Ted Waterman 2020-Bryan Smith 2016

2018

2017

2019

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omeone once commented on curve balls thrown our way just when we think we’ve got things figured out, saying, “The universe is funny that way, sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.” Those words spoken in a fictional television medical drama sure seem to hold true in real life too. Just ask Quan Nguyen, founder and sole owner of Duct-Man Mechanical, a multimillion-dollar heating, ventilation and air conditioning company headquartered in Lake County.

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Self-made

Magnifique The Duct-Man, a successful local entrepreneur, and Lake and Sumter Style’s 2021 Business Man of the Year, looks to give back. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

Quan considers the success his company has brought him, wife Tiffany and their three children Ty-Bryant, 14, Alexis, 9, and Ronin, 6, the ultimate dream come true, but at one time, his sights were set in a different direction; that is, until the universe – disguised as a rough childhood, medical conditions, a trusted mentor, perseverance, hardships and unexpected opportunities redirected Quan’s path. “It’s all about adaptability and trusting in the decisions you make in choosing your right path,” Quan says. “You don’t really need an education to be successful, but you do have to have a good work ethic and you have to make yourself available to people at all times.” Quan says his mom and dad left Vietnam on a boat for the United

≈ PHOTOS: DOUGLAS TYLER

States, explaining that during that time, they were called the “boat people.” He says his parents followed their friends to New York, where they opened a restaurant and started a family, which is Quan and his brother Minh. The family later moved to Florida. In Eustis, they opened the ChineseAmerican Restaurant, located in the building where Tractor Supply Company is housed today. After 10 years together, Quan’s mom found herself single, with two growing boys to look after, and barely enough money to care for or feed them or herself. Quan says she even attempted to sell him and Minh for $40,000 but when the buyer countered with $5,000 less, the deal fell through and she decided to try something else.

“My mom said, ‘Hey, your dad left with a younger woman but I’m still in my prime. You two need to take care of each other and stay out of trouble, and I’m going to try my best to go to school, get a job, and at the end of each night, I’ll have you some fast food,’” Quan says. It was then that he and his brother realized that their childhood days – even though they were only 8 and 9 years old – were over. Looking back, Quan says he believes that if it wasn’t for the buyer’s lack of funds, he wouldn’t have the life he has today. “During that time, we really grew up a little bit. I was able to pick up odds and ends jobs mowing grass, picking up weeds, fixing cars, just anything that could keep me busy and bring in a little money,” Quan says, explaining that it’s


how he ended up working in the air conditioning field. “When I was 15, I was trying to spend the night at my friend’s house and my friend’s dad, who owned an A/C business said, ‘If you want to spend the night, you’re gonna have to go to work with us in the morning.’” Quan says he agreed and sure enough, the next morning, they were off to a job site near Rock Springs in Apopka – the start of what would become a regular gig for him. Meanwhile, Quan attended Eustis High School, and despite being bullied and made fun of for being Asian on occasion, he made friends, excelled in leadership roles and was voted student council president, an accomplishment that earned him full-ride scholarships to Lake Sumter Community College (now Lake Sumter State College) and later, the University of Central Florida. Meanwhile, Quan continued working for the A/C company, and although it took him five years to earn a two-year degree, Quan graduated with an AA in business marketing and finance. Quan says that’s when fate stepped in again. It was 2005, and he was getting ready to start at UCF, but his boss, in desperate need of Quan’s help due to the demand The Villages was bringing the business, offered him a $40k annual salary to quit college and work for him full-time. Quan says he declined and was fired. “He (boss) said, ‘If you’re not helping me, you’re hurting me.’ And I stated, ‘Are you serious?’” Quan says. “You

want me to give up my dream and scholarship to work full time for you and be a low life construction worker? Because that’s what I used to call it.” In time, Quan took his boss’ offer, and as the years went by, his “Duct-Man,” persona was born. With that, money began rolling in with every A/C job they finished. Quan says by 2007, he was earning $50K, in 2008, he was making $60k and his boss had become his mentor and friend. But in 2009, everything came to a screeching halt. Quan says his boss was in over his

One day, Quan says that friend apologized for asking him to drop out of college, thanked him for sticking by him through thick and thin, and for helping him when he was at his lowest. “I told him it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” Quan says of his former boss’ original request. “The reason I care for this guy is because he made me make some life decisions I really didn’t want to make. But I wouldn’t be in this field if it wasn’t for him firing me for going to school and for giving

“IT’S ALL ABOUT ADAPTABILITY AND TRUSTING IN THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE IN CHOOSING YOUR RIGHT PATH.” —QUAN NGUYEN

head with debt, and could no longer afford to keep Quan on the payroll so he offered to pay him by the job. “I was like, I can’t believe I don’t have any more work. I can’t believe that (my boss) who told me to drop out of school said, “I can’t use you anymore because I can’t afford it,” Quan recalls thinking. Still, Quan, the understudy, pushed forward, and eventually reversed roles with his mentor. When his company went bankrupt, Quan took $4,000 he’d saved, partnered with him and started his own company. By 2010, his friend and former boss was working for him.

me the opportunities he did after getting my AA.” Quan says at the end of 2010, his friend died suddenly; leaving him grateful for what he’d learned from him, and for what he now sees as a twist of fate that landed him in the A/C business in the first place. Today, Duct-Man Mechanical, state certified and considered a Trane Comfort Specialist, has grown into a multimillion-dollar grossing company that in 2020 was recognized as the fastest and largest Trane dealer in Lake County. In fact, the company received the “Rising Star” award for

gross orders by a dealer covering Central Florida to the panhandle. Quan has since leveraged several other business opportunities, including opening Lake County Limos, and getting into property management and business financing. He also does community service and philanthropic work, dabbles in modeling, acting and emceeing, and speaks to students at local schools, motivating and encouraging them to persevere in life despite their immediate circumstances. Most of all, Quan, diagnosed with depression, anxiety and ADHD, wants people to know that no matter what, they can be successful if only they get up each day and make it their goal to slay the day. “A lot of people, they get depressed, and shrivel up to the fetal position, they stay home, they don’t comb their hair, but with me, I think, ‘If I don’t get up out of this funk and kill this day, like kick this day’s butt, I will never get out of where I’m at, and that’s the biggest thing,” Quan says. Quan says he’s always seen the people in his life get by with giving “just enough,” and what it’s taught him is to keep looking forward and aiming for a higher level, which is the topic of a book he is currently writing and hopes to publish. The book will be titled “Just Enough,” and in it, Quan plans to share not only his own story, but the stories of people who have impacted and contributed to his life and successes. His hope is that his story inspires people to give their all.


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M M X X I

BU S I N E S S M E N O F S T Y L E You see them every day. You may do business with them. They’re your neighbors and friends—the 2021 Business Men of Style. PHOTOGRAPHER: DOUGLAS TYLER PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

LARRY BLEVINS, PA ASLMS FELLOW & NATIONAL TRAINER


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

DANNY SOARES, MD DOUBLE BOARD-CERTIFIED FACIAL PLASTIC SURGEON

607 COUNTY ROAD 466, FRUITLAND PARK 352.259.8599 PLASTICSURGERYVIP.COM

VILLAGE INSTITUTE OF PLASTIC SURGERY Village Institute of Plastic Surgery is raising the industry standards. Dr. Danny Soares, a Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, and Mr. Larry Blevins, a Physicians Assistant and National Trainer in aesthetic medicine, pride themselves on meticulous attention to detail and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Recently, the company Med Aesthetics America named Village Institute of Plastic Surgery as one of the “Top 10 Aesthetic Clinics" in the United States for 2021. Dr. Soares and Mr. Blevins have launched the American Foundation for Aesthetic Medicine (AFFAM), a nonprofit organization created to advance educational standards in the practice of aesthetic medicine. One of the first training programs of it's kind in the nation, it offers licensed practitioners an opportunity to undergo a six-month, hands-on fellowship training in a supervised clinical setting so they can safely integrate aesthetic medicine into their practice. “This in depth program mimics the fellowship I had for plastic surgery,” says Dr. Soares. “Our goal is to create and establish the best practice standards in the field.” “We’re primarily training local providers,” says Mr. Blevins, "which is very beneficial for the community because educated, trained, and skilled providers can offer the highest level of patient safety." Named as a "Top 100 Best Aesthetic Injector" for the past 3 years in a row, Mr. Blevins is one of the highest volume injectors in Central Florida.

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BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

SCOTT STREM 352.978.3428

MIKE BARRETT 352.255.5710

GUY SHIPLEY 321.356.3755

KEVIN SHIPLEY 352.744.7539

10135 U.S. HWY. 441, LEESBURG / 352.435.4663 / MORRISREALTORS.COM

MORRIS REALTY & INVESTMENTS When you are in the market to buy or sell your home, you need more than experience on your side. You need a better team, a better plan, and a strategy for success. All members of the Morris team know their way around Lake County and have a pulse on the local market. They

have nurtured relationships with local vendors such as mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, general contractors, and pest inspectors. These relationships are essential to a smooth closing and overall transaction. The company is built on a strong foundation of honesty, integrity,

knowledge, and community pride. Each year, the Morris Realty team generously supports local charitable organizations and events as a way of thanking the community for supporting their business. The men of Morris Realty and Investments are here to provide advice and put the information you need right at your fingertips.


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

260 BALL PARK RD., LEESBURG 407.928.1035 LAKEHARRISBOATRENTALS.COM

MICHAEL DOAN, OWNER

LAKE HARRIS BOAT RENTALS The Harris Chain of Lakes is a boater’s paradise with endless opportunities. Ride across the chain’s nine lakes or dock your boat at one of the chain’s 19 restaurants. Beach your boat on a sand bar and bask in the sun. Or, begin a boating adventure on the Harris Chain of Lakes that ultimately ends in the Atlantic Ocean. In an effort to expose more people to an enjoyable boating lifestyle, Michael Dolan also operates Lake Harris Boat Rentals, which utilizes a fleet of boats separate from Adventure Boat Share.

Instead of a membership, boaters are billed by the hour and have the convenience of doing everything online, including reservations, payments, and signing waivers. His fleet includes pontoon boats specially made for cruising or fishing that can be rented for four or eight hours. “My goal is to introduce as many people to boating as I can,” Michael says. “I’ve always found that the best memories with friends and family are created on the water”.

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BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

(L) KYLER NEWCOMB (R) KENT CAMERON THE VILLAGES, FL 352.674.3405 THEVILLAGESINSURANCE.COM

FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP OF THE VILLAGES INSURANCE PARTNERS Kent Cameron and Kyler Newcomb, Financial Risk Consultants with Financial Services Group of The Villages Insurance Partners, take their commitment to ensuring fiduciary responsibility for every client to heart. “We put our clients first, not ourselves,” says Kyler. “Kent and I admire what our clients have achieved, we’re here to help them sustain it.” “Our objective, first and foremost, is to address our client’s needs. We draw parallels between their needs and a strategy that will adhere to those needs. As Financial Risk Consultants, our role is to present solutions and remedies to circumvent issues that our client may be contending with,” stated Kent. By working with an array of partner carriers, the pair secures services like Asset Protection, Legacy Planning, and Annuities, as well as protection for clients against the volatility of the market. They also help new clients take the first step toward seeing what their investment might look like, for example; how life insurance can grow an income after retirement or how it can be a valuable gift for children. “Our job is to create a plan that provides income to sustain and protect the Retirement Lifestyle our client desires and worked so hard to achieve,” stated Kyler.

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BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

DUSTIN TURNER

DARRELL TURNER, OWNER

FLORIDA BUILDING INSPECTORZ The father-son team at Florida Building Inspectorz wants to focus on two types of home inspections: wind mitigation and four-point inspection. The wind mitigation inspection can get you a discount on the hurricane portion of your homeowner's insurance and concentrates on your roof coverings: the age, condition,

and type of structure attaching the roof to the wall structure. “Insurance companies want to know about these factors so that if your roof has been put together well and has a low liability, they can give you a better price,” says FBI owner Darrell Turner. The four-point inspection focuses on the roof, HVAC,

352.327.4430 / FLORIDABUILDINGINSPECTORZ.COM

electrical, and plumbing, as opposed to a standard inspection that covers all that and more; and can sometimes lead to higher insurance costs. “Focusing on those rather than just a standard inspection can get you better insurance rates; avoiding your insurance cost going up due to something as simple as a leaky sink,” Darrell adds.


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

1126 N. BLVD., LEESBURG 352.636.5629 ADVENTUREBOATSHARE.COM MICHAEL DOAN, OWNER

Lake County provides one of the most amazing boating experiences a person could have. Home to the Harris Chain of Lakes, one of Florida’s most pristine bodies of water, and the picturesque Dora Canal, many residents dream about having unlimited boating opportunities without the expense, hassle, and commitment of boat ownership. In 2017, Michael Dolan, founder of Adventure Boat Share, made those dreams a reality for many and business is booming. “Our memberships allow families to have fun without the hassle or headaches of boat ownership,” Michael says. Members can reserve a boat and enjoy a day on the water from sunrise to sunset from any one of the company’s three locations: Venetian Cove Marina, Lake Griffin, or Crystal River. “Members pay a one-time initiation fee and then low monthly dues,” says Michael. “We cover all the expenses—maintenance, insurance, dock fees, and cleaning. The only thing we don’t cover is fuel.” The growing company’s fleet includes everything from pontoon boats, tri-toons, bass boats, and sailboats to deck boats and bowriders. The boats are well-maintained and in excellent condition.


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

QUAN NGUYEN, OWNER

352.589.DUCT (3828) THEDUCTMAN.COM DUCTMANMECHANICAL@GMAIL.COM

DUCT-MAN MECHANICAL AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING Quan Nguyen is the sole owner of Duct-Man Mechanical, an HVAC company he opened in 2006, after giving up a full ride to continue with college to work in the field he’d been in since he was 15 years old. Today, the business – started with a mere $4,000 he’d saved up, and only a two-year degree under his belt – has grown into a multimillion-dollar grossing company. “With hard work, determination, and perseverance, we are able to be the fastest and largest Trane dealer in Lake County for 2020. We just received the “Rising Star" award for gross orders by a dealer, and that covers Central Florida

to the panhandle,” Quan says. Additionally, Quan owns Lake County Limos, builds houses, manages properties, and is a business financier. He’s involved in community service and philanthropic work, and in his spare time, speaks at schools, emcees charity events, and spends time with his lovely wife, Tiffany, and their three kids: Ty-Bryant, 14, Alexis, 9, and Ronin, 6. From a business standpoint, Quan’s main venture remains Duct-Man. “This air conditioning company is like the gas to the vehicle of life. If I am behind the wheel of my car, I feel this company has enough gas to take me where I want to go,” he says.


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

320 PINEY RIDGE RD., CASSELBERRY 407.633.HOME YOUNGREALESTATE.COM PAUL YOUNG, BROKER

YOUNG REAL ESTATE For successful Realtor and entrepreneur Paul Young, playing college football and serving in the Marine Corps was instrumental in equipping him with leadership skills, commitment, and dressing in style. Paul, who is founder and CEO of Young Real Estate LLC, was the starting placekicker for New Mexico State University and Liberty University. He recalls entering the office of his equipment manager and asking for two skinny bicep bands. “I told him half of kicking field goals is just looking good,” Paul says. “He laughed and said that because I was the only one who could actually give him an answer, he would give them to me.” He also recalled how much attention to detail the Marine Corps instilled in them, including their appearance. “It is important that a Realtor becomes an expert in this field of course, and part of that is dressing and looking the part which gives some creditability at first sight.” Over the last few years, Paul has won numerous awards: ORRA’s “20 Under 40 Rising Stars”, ORP’s “35 under 35”, AIOREP “Top 10”, and “America’s Top 100” to name a few.

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BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

3261 U.S. HWY. 441, FRUITLAND PARK / 352.350.1161 STEVE SCHNEIDER, INVESTMENT ADVISOR

TB WEALTH MANAGEMENT, LLC Steve Schneider enjoys bringing a down-to-earth, personable approach to financial planning. Having worked in the financial side of corporate America for years, he recently brought his complex problem-solving skills and keen ability to think outside the box to TB Wealth Management. Steve always focused on and excelled at financial planning and years ago realized how little, competent, retirement planning education was available to others. “Unfortunately, some people receive poor planning and bad advice,” Steve says. “I want my clients to be better educated, more financially savvy, and in total control of their financial world.” Steve provides clients with a range of conservative to aggressive investments utilizing stocks, bonds, and numerous investment funds tailored to an individual’s needs and comfort level. Their money is in good hands with Steve. He has a solid reputation, takes a proactive approach, invokes confidence, trust, and is extremely relatable. “Some people come into retirement ill-prepared,” he says. “I enjoy working with clients to achieve their financial dreams and goals.”

INVESTMENT ADVISORY SERVICES OFFERED BY DULY REGISTERED INDIVIDUALS THROUGH CHANGEPATH, LLC A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER. CHANGEPATH, LLC AND TB WEALTH MANAGEMENT, LLC ARE UNAFFILIATED ENTITIES.


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

THEMIKEENDOWMENT.ORG

(L) REV. DR. ISAAC DEAS, DEAS CONSULTING, LLC (R) JOE ZILER; PRESIDENT, KEVCO BUILDERS FOUNDER, THE MIKE ENDOWMENT

It’s difficult enough, taking the steps to seek out help for a mental health condition. Removing some of the most significant barriers has been a mission of Joe Ziler, president of Kevco Builders and founder of the Mental Illness and Kindness Endowment (MIKE), named after Joe’s younger brother who died by suicide in 2013. With growing concern over the increase in stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health triggers, the MIKE Endowment partnered with Dr. Isaac Deas, MEd, EdD of Deas Consulting in underwriting initial sessions for local residents who have an immediate need for mental health counseling but do not have the financial resources. “Recognizing it is the first step. But reaching out for help is the critical next step,” said Ziler. “We know that if given the choice of paying the electric bill or seeking professional counseling, the bills will always be the priority. The MIKE Endowment wanted to help remove the financial barrier for that first, critical appointment.” The grant-supported appointments with Dr. Deas can be requested privately at TheMikeEndowment.org. Requests will be forwarded directly to Dr. Deas. The MIKE Endowment was created through the Mount Dora Community Trust. To date, it has funded numerous mental health related projects and more than $12,000 in free counseling throughout Lake County. Donations are welcomed at MountDoraCommunityTrust.com/give/ (select M.I.K.E. in the drop-down).


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

385 W. ALFRED ST., TAVARES / 352.406.1264 / DEAS.CONSULTING

ISAAC DEAS, LMHC, ED.D. M.C., M.P.A., M.ED.

Isaac Deas is in the business of helping people. For four years, he has served as pastor for the New Bethel Community Church in Summerfield where he leads a congregation of 110. He is also a mental health counselor for people of all ages, specializing in substance abuse therapy, family intervention, and adolescent behavioral treatment, and is president of Advocating 4 Kids, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on raising money for indigent children in Lake County. The aim is to ensure that those falling through the cracks receive services. “I love what I do because I love people, and there’s a need in our communities.”

Isaac takes pride in connecting well with people’s feelings and attempts to make them feel comfortable. Many of the issues facing clients has been experienced personally by Isaac. “I’ve been on that other side which makes me sensitive to the plight of others.” Regardless of the matter at hand, he approaches it with a spiritual mindedness and a positive attitude. “I have found that when I incorporate spirituality, as opposed to carnality people can identify more,” says Isaac. “I try to focus on the positives.”


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

VILLAGE HEART & VEIN 8575 NE 138TH LANE, STE. 203, LADY LAKE 352.674.2080 VILLAGEHEARTANDVEIN.COM

VATSAL INAMDAR, MD As an electrophysiologist at Village Heart and Vein, Dr. Vatsal Inamdar treats issues with the electrical signals in the heart that cause arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms. Treatment options can be a pacemaker placement or catheter ablation to resolve the problem. Dr. Inamdar takes time to listen to his patients, hear their stories, and fully educate them on their condition and treatment options. “Patients say they appreciate my honesty and how I explain things to them; they like my bedside manner,” he says. “If we can improve a patient’s quality of life, then that is a big thing.” Dr. Inamdar is certified in clinical cardiac electrophysiology and cardiovascular disease by The American Board of Internal Medicine. He also completed two advanced fellowships at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and at the University of Alabama.

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BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

CHRISTOPHER JONES, MD Dr. Christopher Jones does not want patients spending too much time in his office. Instead, he wants them active in golf, softball, pickleball, bicycling and other activities that residents in or near The Villages regularly enjoy. Fortunately, he plays a vital role in helping them lead active lifestyles. Dr. Jones is an electrophysiologist who specializes in treating abnormal heart rhythms. As such, he can offer a cure for disease rather than prescribing medication to mask a patient’s symptoms.

“I want to get patients back to what they enjoy doing,” he says. “I want them to live their best life and stop thinking about their heart.” Typical symptoms of abnormal heart rhythms include rapid heart rate, palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, and chest discomfort. “We have the resources at Village Heart and Vein Center to successfully treat people with atrial fibrillation,” he says. “Our goal is to help patients get better and enjoy their retirement to the fullest.”

VILLAGE HEART & VEIN 8575 NE 138TH LANE, STE. 203, LADY LAKE 352.674.2080 VILLAGEHEARTANDVEIN.COM


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

JAMES COMBS, STAFF WRTITER

DOUG AKERS, PRESIDENT

TIM MCRAE, VP OF SALES

352.787.4112 108 S. 5TH ST., LEEBURG AKERSMEDIAGROUP.COM

AKERS MEDIA Readers of Lake and Sumter Style continually praise the magazine for its innovative advertising sections, captivating writing, and eye-catching designs and photography. The six men pictured here are a big reason for that. For them, each day represents an opportunity to produce a publication that the community can embrace while learning about the people, places, and happenings in our area. Doug Akers, Tim McRae, and James Combs are the veterans of the company. In fact, they’ve been there since Akers Media Group opened in July 2008. The other three men—Michael Gaulin, Volkan Ulgen, and Douglas Tyler— have played an invaluable role in elevating the magazine’s covers and inside spreads, as well as enhancing the company’s website. “I’m very proud to work alongside such a talented group of men,” says James Combs, staff writer. “We work well together and really feed off each other. But beyond that, we all share a passion for creating a top-notch publication.”


BUSINESS MEN OF Style 2021

DOUGLAS TYLER, DIGITAL ART DIRECTOR/PHOTOGRAPHER

MICHAEL GAULIN, SENIOR DESIGNER

VOLKAN ULGEN, ART DIRECTOR

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A COMMUNITY OF CARE AT

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villages PEOPLE. PLACES. EVENTS.

He’s in the money Villager Don Whitfield worked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Going topless Members of The Villages Convertible Club love the wind in their hair and the sun in their faces.

From fairways to roadways Stylish golf carts are how Villagers roll.


IN THE VILLAGES

CO MMENTARY

Guys: Beware of shrinkage down below... Chemical in face masks can make you less of the man you used to be. STORY: JOE ANGIONE

report posted on the Internet at first sounded like an “April fools” joke, but word from the Mount Sinai (Hospital) Health System might force some men into deep depression: “A chemical, phthalates, found in all plastic goods, including masks, could harm male fertility and even cause penile shrinkage.” The Mount Sinai System cited a study from the National Center for Biotechnology as the reputable source for the report. And it isn’t just Americans who have to worry. The shrinkage stuff is in masks used around the world. Proof of this terrible assault on manliness came when rats exposed

to phthalates were found to deliver offspring with shrunken genitals. Further research showed that human babies who were exposed to phthalates, while in the womb, were born with smaller penises. The big worry is that continued maskwearing means “most men could be infertile by the year 2045!” And you thought the worst about face masks was that they fogged up your glasses. In The Villages, this might bring mixed reactions. Some men, whose best days in the sack are behind them, might just yawn and say, “so what?” Others, who can still perform, might rush to toss their masks in the trash, then buy the clear shields seen on a few faces locally. But the shields are made of plastic, too. You just can’t seem to avoid shrinkage down below if you want to be COVID-compliant. The infamous Dr. Fauci warns that even those who’ve had both COVID

Joe Angione loves to share stories of his adventures.

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VST Y L E • J U N' 21

shots should still wear a mask for the foreseeable future—maybe even two masks—thereby condemning men to potential oxygen deprivation and embarrassment in bed. What’s a red-blooded lover man to do? Maybe stay home a lot...order everything in...or go back to wearing those smelly, wash daily, cloth masks we all have stashed in a drawer somewhere. This distress might be nothing for Villages men compared to even more depressing news that says: “Sex after age 60 may be deadly.” U.S. researchers have found that older men who enjoy frequent sex raise their chances of developing heart problems. They have twice the risk of suffering heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular conditions compared with men no longer sexually active. Check with your doctor first, then deal with it guys.

If you want to contact him, email joeangione@aol.com.


Rivers Family Medicine

DR. ANTHONY DESMARAIS Since joining Rivers Family Medicine in 2020, Dr. Anthony Desmarais has made a big impact through his extensive knowledge and patientcentered approach. He is proud to be at the practice’s newest location at Brownwood Paddock Square. “I look forward to establishing relationships with new patients and feel honored that they entrust me with their health,” he says. “I’m also proud to work at Rivers Family Medicine, which has developed a

DR. JULIO UGARTE

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stellar reputation in and around The Villages throughout the years.” In addition to traditional medicine, Dr. Desmarais offers Juvéderm, Botox and hormone replacement. He completed undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and his residency at Lower Bucks Hospital in Pennsylvania. He enjoys spending time with Kelly, his wife of 14 years, and his 2 children.

DR. STEVEN RIVERS

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DR. ERIN DARIANO

We offer a variety of on-site services for your convenience and to help assist in your care: • Same Day Urgent Visits • In house laboratory • Chronic Care Management • On-Site Covid Testing

• Echocardiograms • Electrocardiograms • Pulmonary function testing • Joint injections

• Video Televisits

• Skin biopsies and minor skin procedures

• Ultrasound

• Immunizations

• Acute Illness and injuries • Chronic Pain • Cancer, Heart Disease, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Diabetes screenings • Comprehensive adult care

1503 Buenos Aires Blvd., Bldg. 110, The Villages 2771 Brownwood Blvd., The Villages RiversFamilyMedicine.com

office: 352.205.4302 fax: 352.430.0468


MEET A VILLAGER

PEO PLE

Don Whitfield The guy who made more money than Oprah, Bill Gates, and Ross Perot.

VITAL STATS

STORY: GARY CORSAIR

• • • •

79 years young. Married to wife Polly for 59 years and counting. 34 years working for the government. Moved to The Villages in 2002.

What did you do in your working life? I spent 34 years in government service, 28 of them at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. I started as an apprentice at the Government Printing Office, which does all the Congressional Record and printing for all the government. I was a bookbinder. At the time we were doing postage stamps, invitations to presidential parties and everything like that. What did you do at the Bureau of Engraving? When I went to the Bureau of Engraving, anything that finishes a paper product is part of the binding trade. So we were cutting currency, perforating sheets, perforating stamps, making pads, making all kinds of stuff like that.

“I like to tell people that I made more money than Ross Perot, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey put together. The only thing is, I didn’t get to keep it. I made money, I literally made money.” What is something people don’t realize about U.S. currency? One thing most people don’t realize is that the paper we used to produce a dollar bill was 1.7 cents. It cost more than that to mint a penny. They lost money on the penny.

Was theft a problem at the Bureau of Engraving? You had fences all around the place and the fences went underneath the ground, down 30 or 40 feet. You couldn’t tunnel into it. And they had all different kinds of protection and security measures on top of the building. But we had

Do you know an interesting Villager? Email gary@akersmediagroup.com

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≈ PHOTO: ANTHONY RAO • Bought first designer home in The Village of Piedmont. • Four grandchildren include three boys his daughter adopted from Ukraine 21 years ago.

people stealing currency while I was there. A couple of the security men stole some. They spent 25 or 30 years in jail.

What are you doing these days? The most fun thing I’m doing is I’m in the Buffalo Booster Club at the Villages High School. And I love that. Those kids are fantastic. My nickname on the booster club and all the sporting events is the Candyman, because I give out Werther’s candies to all the kids, but I ask the parents first if they can have it.

What’s your claim to fame? Being happily married, never divorced. I’ve got a good wife. It’s been a good life. Everything happens for a reason. When I look back, I wouldn’t change anything.


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EXTRAO


ORDINARY CARTS Replica street rods ‘wheelie’ carry Villagers in style. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

ary Grahn, Jr. burned rubber in several high-performance rides before moving to The Villages – Corvettes, a Chevelle with a 4-speed 396, and an El Camino – so it’s no surprise that he tools around in a custom golf cart straight out of American Graffiti. “When I go down to the square it always gets a crowd, especially if it’s a time of year when all the grandkids are down here,” Gary says of his one-of-a-kind roadster with custom-painted flames, no top, a short windshield, and hand-painted powder-coated orange wheels with baby moon hubcaps that were popular in the 1940s and ’50s. It has a stick shift, your typical AM/FM/CD stereo, Bluetooth,

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

tilt steering, and self-cancelling turn signals (which he jokes should be mandatory in The Villages). “When I was growing up my dad had a ’32 roadster. It was turquoise with white interior, and something I remember from being young is we always had hot rods and Corvettes and all that,” says Gary, who recently relocated from the Village of Belle Air to Duval. Dad, who moved to The Villages in 2000, actually owned one of the first street rod golf carts in The Villages. When Gary visited he knew he would end up living in The Villages as well. He has been here for seven years full time. Five years ago he purchased his own street rod, which still looks brand new

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SPECIAL INTEREST

because he doesn’t take it out in the rain or cold or when he goes golfing. He has a regular golf cart he takes on those occasions. Mitch Courte also keeps his customized cart in the garage most days. He and his wife live in Pine Hills, and while they do not use the cart as their primary mode of transportation, a 60- to 70-mile day-trip in their one-ofa-kind black and gold street rod that’s a 5/8 scale of a 1940 model Ford, is not uncommon for them. “We do about 5,000 miles a year in our street rod so we do get out and cover a lot of miles. I’ll drive all the way to Orange Blossom Hills for a nice lunch. Not because the food is any better, but because it’s a nice ride. It’s not for the destination but it’s the

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Pamela and Richard Norris

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journey and the ride that’s the part we enjoy,” Mitch says. When Mitch, a self-proclaimed “car guy,” moved to The Villages he bought a normal golf cart, which he says looked great in his garage. When going to the squares he would tell his wife “either I look like everyone else or everyone else looks like me.” When he started seeing street rods he knew he needed one for himself. His current cart (his second street rod), purchased in December 2020, looks like a 1920 model Ford pickup truck. It was designed to be on the cover of a street rod brochure and is the only one with that style and color. Mitch got lots of compliments at The Villages’ monthly golf cart events, which have been cancelled

for the last two years. “We go to the town square and we’re always having people taking pictures. During the pandemic we would do picnics by the lake, and we still do that, and we get people stopping by asking for pictures,” he says. “We go out and enjoy the open air, but also it gives us pleasure that other people get to see and enjoy it, that brings joy to us as well.” If you see a 1942 deuce coupe golf cart around Bonnybrook, you’re probably looking at Bill Svagdis’ hot wheels featuring blue metal slate custom paint wife Kate picked. His cart was built water-tight, so rain isn’t an issue, and there’s a cooler under the front hood Bill especially likes. His cart is stretched a little


$25,000 “IT’S NOT FOR THE DESTINATION BUT IT’S THE JOURNEY AND THE RIDE THAT’S THE PART WE ENJOY.” —MITCH COURTE

Debbie and Mitch Courte

$23,000

Kate and Bill Svagdis

longer than the average club cart, so it gives the ride more stability, he says. He and Kate enjoy riding to destinations, especially when the trip entails driving over new bridges in The Villages. “At my age a deuce coupe would have been before I was old enough to drive, but it was a thing that was neat to look at, neat to have,” Bill says of the cart purchased in July 2018. While some street rod owners use their carts only for special occasions, Bill takes his everywhere, which is why his includes a radio. Bill plays volleyball at Eisenhower and Rohan recreation centers so he is often taking 22-mile round trips. “Everything I do in my golf cart. We’ll take rides over the bridges just to traverse the interstate,” he says. People often take pictures, especially when the slate paint is sparkling in the sunlight. “It almost looks three dimensional,” Bill says. The couple frequently drive over the bridges to have lunch or dinner. Richard Norris of Pine Hills got his 1929 Ford street rod a year and a half ago after walking into a dealership on a whim. “I said, ‘Let’s go in there

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SPECIAL INTEREST Gary Grahn Jr.

$25,00

0

“WHEN I GO DOWN TO THE SQUARE just for the fun of it.’ And I went in there and saw the cart I have now, and I thought, ‘OK I’m done,’ so I bought it,” Richard says. His friend and fraternity brother from college works at Villages Street Rod, and he and Richard often attend street rod functions. Richard takes his cart all around The Villages, to restaurants, grocery shopping, and just for joy rides. “It’s just phenomenal what you can do with it,” he says. “I keep it absolutely pristine. People see it and just think it’s beautiful, because it is. I will not take it out unless it’s looking really good.” The cart has been rained on just twice, which Richard says was two times too many. Richard and his wife take their street rod out just for fun and use their BMW as their everyday car.

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Gary Grahn jokes that he is jealous of his 2017 street rod because it had four miles on it when he purchased it “new.” He’s jealous because those four miles took place ferrying players at The Masters. “I’m a golfer and I would’ve loved to have been there but my golf cart was there,” he says. Gary’s radiator style cart is easily made into a convertible in less than a minute, and has a trunk you can store things, which he says also makes a good seat for his dog. He also enjoys the cooler under the hood, which includes a rubber stopper so ice can be placed inside to keep drinks cool, though the area can also be used for storage. Gary appreciates that street rods ride much smoother than typical club carts, which makes them worth their price in his opinion. He also says the longer wheelbase makes


Greg Grahn

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IT ALWAYS GETS A CROWD.” street rods ride better. He also appreciates the tilt steering and turn signals that cancel themselves, “because you’ll notice that with all these old people down here, they’re always driving with their turn signals on,” he jokes. He also likes that he can attach a trailer to hold golf clubs to his street rod, or in his case, a flatbed to hold RC (remote control) racing equipment. “There’s a remote-control track on one of the Everglades Recreational Centers and it’s just for RC racing. You have to go over those two bridges to get there so I never could get there in my golf cart. Now I can,” Gary says. With thousands of homes and continual expansion in The Villages, getting around in just a golf cart can be tough. The new bridges are a big help, as people can take carts over

— G A RY G R A H N J R .

State Road 44 and the Florida Turnpike, so they can get from one end of The Villages to the other. “If you didn’t want it, you truly could get by without a car. We started out with two cars and one golf cart and now we have one car and two golf carts,” Gary says. The price of a street rod originally convinced Gary to start off with a used model, but he eventually got a good deal on a trade-in. “I’m glad I did because they really hold their value. I just don’t think I’ll ever get rid of this one. I love it so much, and the dog loves it.” You can find your own dream ride at Streetrod Golf Cars, in Palm Ridge Plaza on County Road 466, or check out what’s available at streetrodgolfcars.com.

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SOCIAL CLUB SPOTLIGHT

PEO PLE

Cruisin’ companions Villagers’ convertibles serve as catalysts for friends, fun, and travel. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

embers of The Villages Convertible Club believe in cruisin’ for the sheer fun of it. “Our motto is ‘topsdown,’ so we go topsdown and go cruising,” says Frank Dolence, the club’s VP of trip planning. “The whole idea of the club is to socialize, have fun, take trips, meet people and make new friends. That’s why my wife Kathy and I joined it.” Kathy, who serves as the club’s VP of communications, says they’ve made some good friends through the club. “The people are wonderful. They are friendly and the meetings are very interesting and funny. When you go on trips, sometimes you don’t know everybody, but people in the club are so open to meeting others, that it makes it easy,” she says.

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

The club’s founder, Jim Judd, says he’s happy to hear that his vision for the group is still being followed. In 2009, at the club’s very first meeting, organizers suggested members meet up for occasional dinners at various restaurants, but Jim asked that trips be considered as another possible activity. “I was new to Florida and felt like I really wanted to explore the area and see what was here,” says Jim, adding that when the organizers dropped out soon after that, he was left running the show. He planned the club’s very first trip – a Gulf Coast adventure for 24 that included a remote beach, an archeological site, riverside lunch and a nature boat ride along the Crystal River. When only 14 people (every member at the second meeting) signed up, Jim advertised the club and trip in


“WHAT MAKES OUR CLUB SO UNIQUE OVER OTHER CAR CLUBS IN THE VILLAGES, IS THAT WE ARE SO ACTIVE.” —JIM JUDD

the local newspaper to garner more interest. Within a few days, he had dozens of new members. Seventytwo people signed up for the trip, more than the one boat available could carry. The problem was rectified when the captain agreed to three separate two-hour runs to accommodate everyone. The trip was a success. Jim says memberships began to spike after that. One hundred members belonged by the end of year one, and another 100 joined the next year. Today, the club is topped out at 780 members and nearly 400 convertibles of all kinds. And there’s a waitlist. “What makes our club so unique over other car clubs in The Villages, is that we are so active,” Jim says, adding that they take anywhere from eight to 10 trips per month, including a monthly “dine-out” to a high-end restaurant, several day trips to nearby attractions, overnight trips to farther Florida destinations and to other states once or twice a year. Jan Brown, the club’s current president, says some of last year’s trips were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but by September 2020, members resumed small outdoor trips. In 2021, things got back on track with monthly meetings and trips to places like the Barberville Pioneer

Settlement and the ‘All About Elephants’ sanctuary in Williston. Two bigger trips are also on the books: a three-day trip to southern Georgia dubbed “Georgia on my mind” 100 members are taking in October to see the plantations, museums and a winery, and one later in the year to Charleston, SC. Frank says members usually take scenic routes to their destinations separately; but meet up to eat and for planned activities. At each outing, members are mixed up to ensure they meet new people. “You do meet people, you do make friends and you do have fun, and that’s our whole goal,” he says. Frank says people enjoy seeing them cruising down the road and pulling up to places in their convertibles, and sometimes they admire, take pictures, or ask members questions. He says his convertible, a 2016 Mustang, attracts plenty of attention,

but there are a wide variety of cars in the club. Jan has a Volkswagen convertible, Jim drives a passion red Nissan 370Z Roadster, and one member has a $110,000 Audi R8 Coupe sportscar. There are some awesome cars, but people, not horsepower make this club special. “The convertible is a means into the club, but after that, it’s just all about fun and having a good time.” Even so, some members show off their rides in parades or an annual car show at Sumter Landing. Jim says the shows are fun, but fun and camaraderie are what drive the excitement he and wife Dee feel year-after-year. “We’re meeting new friends constantly, and the variety of activities we have keep everyone’s interest,” Jim says. Same with Jan and her husband Steve. “We don’t focus on the mechanics of the cars, but on trips, going places, doing things, and learning about Florida. A lot of places, we would have never gone if it weren’t for the Convertible Club and the research the club does to find the best trips for us is fantastic,” Jan says. “It’s all about enjoying the ride.” The Villages Convertible Club meets at 10 a.m. on the second Thursday of every month (excluding July and August) at the Eisenhower Recreation Center. For more information, visit thevillagescc.com.

Want to see your club in Social Club Spotlight? Send your suggestions to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

ROXANNE BROWN

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BOOK CLUB

REVIEW

This Tender Land By William Kent Krueger. The life-changing odyssey of four children. STORY: KATHY PORTER

t is the summer of 1932 at the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota, a boarding school housing Native American children forcibly taken from parents, stripped of their heritage, and forced to provide free labor for local people. Although not Native American, almost 13-year-old Odie and his 16-year-old brother Albert O’Banion are orphans who have been sequestered at the school for four years. Life at Lincoln is very hard for all the children, but especially for Odie, whose penchant for rebellion continually earns the wrath of Mrs. Brickman, the superintendent the children call the “Black Witch.” Odie is often beaten by a sadist member of the staff and sent to the quiet room, a shed with a dirt floor covered in straw, with a rat for company. Albert is gifted mechanically and has become somewhat of asset to the school, but despite his warnings he is unable to tame Odie’s defiant nature. Their best friend is Mose, a mute Sioux boy they communicate with by signing, a skill learned from their deaf mother. The

bright spot in their lives is 4-year-old Emmy, who dotes on Odie, Albert and Mose. Beginning with a tornado that kills Emmy’s widowed mother, a series of horrific events causes the four children to flee Lincoln. They set off in a canoe down the Gilead River heading for the mighty Mississippi. Their ultimate destination is St. Louis, where Odie and Albert plan to be reunited with their Aunt Julia. The Depression-era pilgrimage of the four brave vagabonds is the crux of the novel. While being vigorously pursued by the Black Witch, they meet all manner of people on their journey, including struggling farmers, displaced families looking for a better life, traveling faith healers and lost souls of all kinds. Some are friends and some are foes. In addition to finely crafted characters, the themes of this superbly written novel have so much to offer the reader. Among them are the vivid images of the waterways they traverse; the eternal battle of good versus evil; unique plot twists and turns; and fierce love and devotion to family. This tale will definitely etch itself in your memory.

Want to read more about... need something here?

“This Tender Land” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

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his year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971, in which Congress declared that “a great opportunity is offered as a result of recent advances in the knowledge of this dread disease to conduct energetically a national program against cancer.” The Act provided funding for new cancer research centers, local programs, and an international cancer research data bank. For half a century the National Cancer Program has driven

advances in research, treatment, and care. Thanks to this legislation, cancer mortality in the US has fallen steadily for decades, and this year it experienced its largest single decline ever. In 1970, the 5-year survival rate was 49%. A greater than 70% survival rate is predicted for 2030. “There is little doubt that the major contributor to reduced cancer mortality over the last 50 years has been reduction in the use of tobacco products,” writes Dr. Richard L. Schilsky

of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “And, as we have learned more about other risk factors for cancer, vigorous public health efforts, including promoting hepatitis B virus and HPV vaccinations, healthy lifestyles, and screening for cervical, colorectal, breast, oral, lung, and skin cancers have prevented cancer initiation or led to its detection at an early, curable stage.” Most reduced mortality results from advances in early detection and in cancer prevention, but

treatment advances play a significant and increasing role as well. “None of this would have been possible without a robust and sustained national commitment to eradicate cancer,” Schilsky writes. “Many cancer advances were directly attributable, or could trace their development, to federal research funding, and nearly all of them are the result of rigorously conducted clinical trials, made possible by the participation of thousands of individuals with cancer.”


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INSPIRATIONAL Clermont coffee shop offers fresh roasted java and an outlet for making a difference. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

n June 2019, Brent Joseph opened the doors to The Outpouring Coffee, a non-profit shop and roastery in Clermont like no other. The seating area is warm and welcoming, the friendly vibe puts people instantly at ease, and the menu includes chai, teas, matcha, cold brews, cappuccinos, macchiatos, lattes, and more, in a variety of flavor options. Other goodies like muffins, grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, egg and cheese quesadillas and waffles are also on the menu. Not only that, you can purchase packaged or bulk coffee roasted on site by Brent. The most unique thing about the place, however, is the inspiration that comes with every order, since all profits go to making a better life for people – especially children – in Malawi.

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

“I opened the coffee shop to raise money and awareness for the initiatives we have in the country of Malawi,” says Brent. “Our thought was that the shop would increase public awareness for what we’re doing, with hopes that people would want to support our efforts.” Brent’s passion stems from a trip to Kenya he took with his brother in 2017 to help to an individual Brent had been introduced to months before. While there, the pair met a group of people doing missions work at the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania, and other parts of Africa, including Malawi. That group, which has since become his team, began doing traditional independent missionary work, like church planting and leadership development, in about seven different locations throughout the country. In time, Brent realized a pressing need existed for clean drinking water, and later consolidated their efforts to one area.


Locals, he says, were drinking contaminated water being taken directly from creeks and rivers, and as a result, the death rate, especially among infants and children, was extremely high. “The issue when it comes to water contamination is really a cholera issue. Statistically, in the country of Malawi, the mortality rate is high because you have kids in rural areas with no access to normal water sources, only very small creek beds,” Brent says. “That’s very typical, but that water is contaminated, so the kids drink it, and they die. That, unfortunately, is very normal there.” One day, he and his team visited Ndirande, a village near the center of Blantyre, the second city of Malawi. There, they noticed dozens of what people there refer to as “street kids.” Brent says most of the children were under the age of five, living under bridges and just running around unsupervised, barefoot and in tattered clothes, and he was taken aback. Maybe because he and his wife have four young children of their own, he couldn’t imagine living that way, or maybe because in the United States that kind of thing, to that extent, is not a common sight. “I was looking at them and I was like, ‘What the heck is going on with all these kids? Can we do something for them?’” Brent recalls. His inquiry was the beginning of The Outpouring Kids, a school and home to some of those kids and many more. “I said, ‘Can we rent a space where we can put them all, wash and feed them, put clothes on them and get a teacher to come in there?’ They (team members) were like, ‘Yeah, that’d be great,’ and the

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Photo of children in field provided by Zach Brown of Offshore Films. // Additional Malawi photos provided by Brent Joseph.

next week, they had it all figured out, and the school was rolling.” The Outpouring Kids opened in early 2018 with about 30 children. Today, the school provides food, clothes and education to about 125 vulnerable youths who are being taken care of by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and, in some cases parents. About 15 of the kids with no family or homes to speak of live there full time. In addition to operating the school, Brent and his team provide clean drinking water for people throughout Ndirande and Blantyre, by way of five wells they’ve drilled and access points they’ve established for distribution to those in need. “You can come into our store here in Clermont right now as a random person on the street, go into the bathroom, put a cup up to the sink, fill it with water, walk out and no one would even know or care that you took a cup a water, but in other cultures, water is hard to find,” Brent explains. “Then, in areas where you don’t have access to clean water, people charge for water access. If people have a well, they charge people to get water from their well.” Brent adds, “Charging people that have jobs is the cultural norm, but for those parents or families or kids who don’t have money, they can get water for free at our different access points.” Brent visits Malawi two to three times per year to ensure everything is running smoothly with the water kiosks and school, but the mission continues when he’s back in Clermont. He talks to people about the cause and works hard at the coffee shop to ensure that money continues coming in to fund programs in Africa, explaining: “This is not a normal business. We don’t run it like a normal business. We have no savings. We give all the money away.” The amount of money it takes to keep The Outpouring Kids running varies depending on the number of kids attending, and each well costs anywhere from $4,500 to $6,000. Brent says their goal is to dig another well soon. Still, Brent says he wishes he could do more since current efforts are barely scratching the surface of even larger systemic problems. Then there are dangers like theft, human trafficking, and more.


“THIS IS NOT A NORMAL BUSINESS. WE DON’T RUN IT LIKE A NORMAL BUSINESS. WE HAVE NO SAVINGS. WE GIVE ALL THE MONEY AWAY.” —BRENT JOSEPH

Brent Joseph

“It’s not like the continent of Africa is ever going to be alleviated from poverty. I don’t think that’s realistic, so there are always needs, but the question is ‘What are the greatest needs you’re aware of, and what resources are coming in?’” On a daily basis, Brent chugs along at The Outpouring with the kids and families in Malawi on his mind, confident that Clermont and neighboring communities will join him in making a difference. He also leads a Christian-based house church and several focus groups that meet at the shop and members’ homes. “When you learn about the conditions and things that happen there, it affects you, but when you actually see it, and you’re in it for a few weeks at a time, you think, “This is crazy, this whole world is crazy. We live in a bubble and everything else is crazy,” Brent says. To help, people can visit The Outpouring Coffee, donate directly, try something tasty off the menu, or purchase packaged coffee. People can also visit the website and donate to the cause online. Brent says if people can’t contribute financially, there’s another very important way to still help. “Donations are what’s most needed in Malawi, but what’s most needed here is awareness,” Brent says. “If people would just rally around the fact that we’re here, and just come in and try our coffee, that’d be great, but also, if people would just promote us; let others know we’re here and what we’re trying to do, that’d be great too.” Elyssa Stimmell, the youth and families ministry coordinator with First United Methodist Church of Clermont, says she sometimes meets people at the venue for discussions or Bible study meetings. “I enjoy the good atmosphere and the good cause that goes along with The Outpouring,” says Elyssa. “It’s nice to know that if I’m spending time and money on coffee, at least let it help somebody else.” For more information, visit opcoffee.co or call 352.989.7890. The Outpouring Coffee, 2560 E. Hwy 50, Suite 107, Clermont, is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Ready to take the plunge on a home loan? USB NMLS# 419535

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15TH ANNUAL

Stepping Out For

Education

LOCAL CELEBRITIES COMPETE ON THE BALLROOM FLOOR

Dr. Emily Feltner

Kristin Jamieson

Dina Simpson

Tim Murry

Jerome Brouhard

Tyler J. Borowski

Assistant Superintendent LCS

Branch Manager, Success Mortgage Partners

Owner, Renew Day Spa

Mayor of Clermont

Manager/Sommelier, Maggie’s Attic

Deputy Tax Collector

TWO FULL PERFORMANCES!

Friday, July 23, 2021 or s t e k c i t Saturday, July 24, 2021 5 2 wine $o1 er andvres, e b Clermont Performing Art Center • 3700 S. Hwy 27 Clermont, FL n e p ’oeu d es Includ, heavy hors dessert e r n a b ag chamcpeption and re vote. a

FOR TICKETS: www.edfoundationlake.com or 352-326-1265 HOST HOTEL: HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS:

ONLINE TICKET ORDERING:

https://steppingout2021.eventbrite.com

1810 S Hwy 27 Clermont, FL 34711 • 352-243-7878 Ask for the Stepping Out Room Rate of $109 per night https://www.hiexpress.com/redirect?path=event-facilities&br andCode=EX&localeCode=en&regionCode=1&hotelCode=CMT FL&_PMID=99801505&GPC=EFL&cn=no&viewfullsite=true

new venue!

Theatre Seating for the Broadway Performance Hosted by

Diane & Scott Kornegay Benefiting the teachers and students in Lake County Schools


FENCES

WOOD • VINYL ALUMINUM • RANCH RAIL CHAIN LINK • PERGOLA'S ESTATE GATES

MOSSYOAKFENCE.COM 407.900.2940


Here’s your chance to

vote for the people, places, and businesses of Lake & Sumter Counties that make this the best place to live, work, and play!

be t

Best

of the

VOTING ENDS JULY 15

Place your votes at

MAGAZINE

lakeandsumter tyle.com


“We can honestly say that whilst we were somewhat reluctant to sign with Wiseman owing to the long lead time from contract signing to completion, the finished product was well worth the wait. The custom design is exactly what we asked for and we maintain that the craftsmanship of the pool, spa, equipment, pavers, screen enclosure, and summer kitchen are second to none.” — TOM & LYNDA MURPHY

We know that every single customer is unique—Building Unique Pools is our company motto—and so every project we undertake is delivered to a client’s signature set of personal tastes and, where necessary, solves any challenges their property may present. 352-431-3766 | www.WisemanPools.com | 1517 W Main St., Leesburg Wiseman Pools is a family-owned-and-operated, licensed residential and commercial swimming pool builder with an extensive portfolio of projects. From the small—fountains and in-ground spas. To the large—million dollar installations with multiple pools and spas. Our customers, large and small, demand a quality swimming pool for a fair price. And we deliver.


agenda EVENTS. TRAVEL. PEOPLE.

Charlie “Mack” McGowan gives country music a voice.

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THE TO-DO LIST

jun. 2021

JULY

3-4

EVENT

CELEBRATE WITH A BANG The Fourth of July is right around the corner where we will celebrate America’s independence, barbecue with family and friends and watch a colorful array of fireworks sparkle in the night sky. Undoubtedly, hearts will burst with pride for the red, white and blue. Several towns in Lake County will celebrate Fourth of July in grand style. Spectators can engage in fun and fellowship throughout the day with friends and family members while waiting for the evening fireworks display. Each event is free. Mount Dora—July 3 at Elizabeth Evans Park. Call 352.735.7183. Eustis—July 3 at Ferran Park. Call 352.483.5491. Clermont—July 4 at Waterfront Park. Call 352.708.5975. Tavares—July 4 at Wooton Park. Call 352.742.6209. Groveland—July 4 at Lake David Park. Call 352.429.2141.

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jun. ON STAGE Enjoy quality entertainment on the many stages of Lake and Sumter counties.

A MAGICAL TOUCH

6/5

Disney is coming to the Clermont Performing Arts Center in the form of music. The Little Mermen, the ultimate Disney cover band, will sing songs from Disney classics such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King,” and “Mary Poppins.” Attendees are encouraged to dress as their favorite Disney character. Call 352.394.4800 or visit clermontperformingarts.com for more information.

JUN

5-6

EVENT

Where waterways become speedways

THIS IS A LAUGHING MATTER

6/11

The SAK Comedy Lab has been one of Central Florida’s favorite shows for more than 25 years. Cast members include Aaron Shune, writer and producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Wayne Brady of “Let’s Make a Deal,” and Clare Sera and Karey Kirkpatrick, writers of the animated musical “Smallfoot.” Call 352.394.4800 or visit clermontperformingarts.com for more information.

TAKING CENTER STAGE

6/25 - 7/11

The Bay Street Players in Eustis are presenting Mamma Mia! Set on a Greek island, this tale is about the marriage of young Sophie, her mother Donna, and her possible three dads—all men from her mom’s past. Nonstop singing and laughs will delight the audience. Call 352.357.7777 or visit eustisstatetheatre.org for more information.

Tavares may be “America’s Seaplane City,” but for one weekend jet skis will take center wave on Lake Dora. Wooton Park will host the 2021 U.S. HydroDrag Nationals and Surf and Turf Championships, featuring some of the country’s fastest jet ski racers. Call 850.376.5495 or visit surfandturfpromotions.com. JUN

AC TIVIT Y

19

Take a hike It’s time to discover how naturally invigorating Lake County truly is. Enjoy a guided hiking tour at PEAR Park with Lake County park rangers and discover this amazing 318-acre property, home to 160 species of birds and 40 species of butterflies. Call 352.516.7456 for more information.

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THE TO-DO LIST

jun. JAMS Move to the beat of one of your favorite performers at one of these great concerts or local venues!

JUN

26

6/4 @ 5 p.m.

6/18 @ 6 p.m.

C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Lake Veterans Club, Tavares

6/4 @ 8 p.m.

6/18 @ 7 p.m.

SEPTEMBER DOGS Crossroads 44, Eustis

DENNIE AND THE JETS Elks Lodge #1578, Tavares

6/4 @ 8 p.m.

6/18 @ 9 p.m.

JEFF VITOLO AND THE QUARTER MILE REBELS Rat Rods Wood Fire Pizza, Wildwood

SEPTEMBER DOGS Frank’s Place, Leesburg

6/5 @ 3 p.m.

JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

THE LITTLE MERMEN Clermont Performing Arts Center, Clermont

6/5 @ 7 p.m.

EVENT

A WORLD OF WHEELS

DAKOTA HURLEY PRESENTS THE MUSIC OF RANDY TRAVIS AND TRAVIS TRITT Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

6/6 @ noon CRYSTAL VISION DUO Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

6/11 @ 5 p.m.

Be ready to feast your eyes on engine-revving, tire-smoking automobiles of yesterday. Downtown Eustis turns into the coolest giant parking lot as automobile enthusiasts roll into town for the Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In and proudly display their prized possessions.

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Cody’s Original Roadhouse, The Villages

6/12 @ 6 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

6/12 @ 7 p.m. TY HERNDON Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

6/18 @ 5 p.m. MACK LIVERMAN Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

To have an event considered for the calendar, send a short text description along with a color photo (if available) 45 days in advance of event to: calendar@akersmediagroup.com or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Cody’s Original Roadhouse, The Villages

6/19 @ 7 p.m. ANDY GRIGGS Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

6/20 @ 1 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Ruby Street Grille, Tavares C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

6/12 @ 5 p.m.

Let us help you get the word out!

6/19 @ 5 p.m.

6/20 @ 4 p.m.

C.O.D. FLORIDA Amvets Post 2006, Leesburg

Call 407.310.6123 for more information.

6/19 @ 1 p.m.

6/18 @ 6 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

6/25 @ 6 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

6/26 @ 7 p.m. WADE HAYES Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

7/2 @ 5 p.m. C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

7/3 @ 1 p.m. JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

7/3 @ 5 p.m. SEPTEMBER DOGS Puddle Jumpers, Tavares

* Dates and times are tentative due to COVID-19 guidelines. Contact the venues for updates.

ONGOI NG EV ENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.

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1ST FRI

1ST FRI

EVERY SUN

EVERY SUN

Eustis 1st Friday 6-9 p.m. Historic Downtown Eustis

Clermont First Friday Food Trucks 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Downtown Clermont

Clermont Farmer’s Market beginning at 9 a.m. Downtown Clermont

Downtown Mount Dora Village Market 9 a.m.- 2p.m. 230 N. Alexander St. Mount Dora

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1


U O Y E AR ? E M G N I D D I K OUTPATIENT PARTIAL KNEE REPLACEMENT? Because of the minimally invasive nature of the partial knee replacement, patients return to a higher level of function than those with a total knee. Not only will a higher percentage of patients with a Partial Knee Replacements return to sporting activities than those with Total Knees, they will engage in more sporting activity sessions for longer periods of time.

CALL US TODAY TO SEE ONE OF OUR OUTPATIENT ANTERIOR HIP REPLACEMENT SPECIALISTS.

888.847.4895 UnovaHealth.com


LOCAL TALENT

PEO PLE

Dead on his feet Charlie ‘Mack’ McGowan follows the sentiment: ‘Stay busy, live longer.’ STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

f the five songs he has written and produced with the help of Ray Gantek, “Dead on My Feet” is Charlie’s favorite. “Dead on My Feet” is the first song Charlie “Mack” McGowan produced, but his recording career is very much alive. “The song is about me. I just started writing about my life; the song starts off ‘I work all day and sing all night,’ and it just goes from there. ‘I’m playing at a Boondock bar, my woman is behind me,’ stuff like that,” says Charlie. Ray sets Charlie’s lyrics to music, as well as prerecords the music for performances. “I sing the song, I say I want something like this, and then he puts the music behind it,” Charlie says. Music was a part of Charlie’s life from a young age, when he would sing for “just about anybody who would listen,” and at talent shows and contests. Charlie has performed at venues including the Orange Blossom Opry in Weirsdale, Morgan’s Music Junction in Summerfield, Steve’s Trackside Bar in Summerfield, Nelson’s Fishcamp in Umatilla, and Hurricane’s Dockside Grill in Tavares once a month. Charlie also performs at “driveway parties,”

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

which were popularized in The Villages when the squares shut down during the pandemic. Since Charlie doesn’t play an instrument, he explains to Ray what type of “vibe” he is trying to match to his songs, and Ray makes it happen. When Charlie performs, he brings Ray’s prerecorded music to sing his own songs, and also sings songs from artists he admires. In The Villages, he also sings older songs such as Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” and likes to keep things lively. He performs newer and more upbeat music such as hits by John Pardi when he does shows at Hurricane’s and other venues. If you’d like to see Charlie perform, you can find him at Hurricane Dockside Grill in Tavares on the third Friday of every month, 5-9 p.m., or check out his events schedule on Facebook. Charlie performs at driveway parties for tips only, so you can contact him via his Facebook page to schedule a show. You can find Charlie’s music under the name “Mack Liverman” on ReverbNation.com.

Do you know of a talented person in our community? Email their story to victoria@akersmediagroup.com

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CUSTOM CHANGES BENEFIT YOU

AMERICAN FAMILY HOMES

Let’s get started. Call me today.

Mike Neace: 352.589.6004 Award Winning Home Designer, Builder, Licensed Contractor CHANGE IS GOOD

At American Family Homes we believe you deserve your new home, your way. This includes custom changes that make your home personal and special to you. That’s always been part of the American Family Homes experience. Bring us your ideas. Let’s collaborate on style, color and design features to create an energy efficient custom home, within budget, just the way you want it.

KNOW YOUR BUILDER

“Designing and building a custom home is a long process. A thousand decisions need to be made, one just as important as the next. The first decision you need to make is to hire the right builder with the right experience. Don’t underestimate the importance of the relationship with your builder. American Family Homes is Committed to Quality and 100% Satisfaction. We invite your inquiry today.” - Mike Neace

CUSTOM HOMES “ON YOUR LOT” FROM THE $200S OFFICE/DESIGN STUDIO 312 South Bay St. Eustis

“Committed to Quality & Satisfaction”

AmericanFamilyHomesInc.com State License Number - CBC058306


SOCIAL SPOTLIGHT

FINE ARTS

Art with purpose Studio Art Farm’s gallery, paintings, classes focused on helping ‘earth-bettering’ charities for a more peaceful planet. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1

ainting and rescuing animals have become a passion for animal activists and artists PJ Svejda and German Lemus, who opened Studio Art Farm, 120 E. 4th Ave., in Mount Dora last February, a multi-functional studio where they paint, host art classes, show their works and exhibit other artists’ works in quarterly gallery displays. PJ says the name Studio Art Farm centers around her overall goal to expand from her dog and cat rescue efforts to acquiring more land and space for a farm sanctuary. “I use my art to facilitate my love,” says PJ, adding that 10 percent of art sales go to “earth-bettering charities” involving the environment, animals, and children. The entrance hallway into Studio Art Farm features largerthan-life portraits PJ painted for the “We Speak to the Trees” exhibition for the Rainforest Foundation. “It was to raise awareness on the deforestation issue,” says PJ. “My biggest thing is I have been an animal activist and an environmental activist since I was a child, but I went about it in a really aggressive way (in the past), shaming people of ‘this is terrible,’ and then I realized it was the wrong way to go about it … So, I try to personify nature because I feel if you can see yourself, it touches on those empathy strings.” She hopes her rainforest pieces inspire viewers to ask, ‘What if I woke up to my home being torn down? What if I had babies I couldn’t carry, what would I do?’ All of the birds in her paintings are either endangered or critically endangered in the Amazon Rainforest. PJ studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she earned a bachelor’s in illustration and master’s in painting. She then became an art instructor in Atlanta for 12 years before relocating to Orlando five years ago, where she met German Lemus, one of the seven founding members of B-Side Artists, known for creating many of the colorful murals in downtown Orlando. Originating from Honduras, German’s name is pronounced like ‘Jermaine,’ but he goes by Lemus. Lemus began painting at age 6 and studied art in Miami. While in the Army, he did comedic sketches of drill sergeants and superiors that evolved into murals, painting and T-shirt designs. Later, he became an art tutor in a program called “Soldiers to Scholars,” where he fell in love with mentoring children. Then, while studying multimedia design and visual arts at a community college, he found the artistic style of Impressionism to be his forte and won numerous awards with larger-than-life tiger paintings that have become his signature work. Lemus and PJ paint large murals together and both also enjoy working at Studio Art Farm, where PJ teaches six-week adult classes in oil painting and acrylic painting, while Lemus teaches Bubbles and Brushes, a one-day social painting class where people can enjoy a mimosa while they paint. Other talented artists with works displayed at Studio Art Farm include artist Beth Jewett’s striking watercolor abstracts,


German Lemus and PJ Svejda

and Gina Tyquiengco, who has taken the concept of painting in black and white with splashes of gold. Gina explains the black and white paint represents the dual world she lives in and she identifies the gold in her pieces as “awakening my identity as a woman and an artist.” “I have never been able to see anyone take three colors and just keep going,” PJ says of Gina’s numerous pieces. Studio Art Farm also features a wide array of art available for purchase to fit any budget, including a table filled with original pieces of different mediums and subject matters, including those created in painting classes at the studio. PJ’s earliest memory of dabbling in art was when she was in preschool. “I remember there were kind of mean kids and I felt very isolated. So, they would go off to the playground, and I would sit inside, and I would draw.” She still has a self-portrait she drew of herself as a child with a circle head, triangle body, stick arms, and spiky hair. “My parents framed it and they laughed because it was cute,” PJ says, recalling she thought they were laughing at her work, yet it was a defining moment in her art career. “That really put a bee in my bonnet to get good at it.” To learn more about the studio and future classes, visit Studioartfarm.com or call 407.376.2228.

Know of a cool event you’d like us to feature in Social Spotlight? Contact us at least three months in advance and provide all the details to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

THERESA CAMPBELL

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HI, SOCIETY!

LT. Michael Lyon, Tylor Cofield, Daniel Fanego, LT. Patrick Pastular, LT. Terry Leist, Jeff McMahon, Cory Spangler and Blake Wilbanks

Chief Kevin Carroll

City Manager Michael Hein

Mayor Evelyn Wilson and Karen Lopez

Public Information Manager Sarah Panko

Community Development Director Timothy Maslow

Chief Shawn Ramsey

N E W D I G S F O R G R OV E L A N D ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. The City of Groveland hosted a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on March 12 at its new Public Safety Complex at 6825 State Road 50. The city’s first responders joined Groveland officials, Lake County dignitaries, and dozens of citizens at the event. The new 39,000 square foot facility is also home to the city’s community development department and will serve as an Emergency Operation Center (EOC) during storms or other emergency situations.

See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Whitney Rivera singing God Bless America.

@GROVELAND PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX

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E 'S WHER ?! M Y P IC


A PLASTIC SURGERY SPECIALTY BOUTIQUE REFRESH

YOUR FACIAL APPEARANCE

RESTORE

YOUR YOUTHFUL FEATURES

REGAIN

YOUR INNER VITALITY

American Board of Plastic Surgery

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

American College of Surgeons

drserra.com | 325-259-0722

Lake Sumter Landing Professional Plaza | 910 Old Camp Rd. Suite 142 | The Villages


HI, SOCIETY!

Steve Andelman, Marty Bouhall, Jonathan Martin and Jeff Carlino

Ray Powers and Carey Baker

Gus Grizzard, Ricky Harper, Carl Martin and Mike Pederson

Bradley Zorian, Kelli Mercado, Candace Dailey, Nikki Wiggins, and Francheska Armenteros

Elaine Stafanski and Duane Goss

Jeff Moore

Lisa Kinsella, Cindi Falanga and Jeanne Thorpe

The Punishers LEMC

Lorraine Brown and Joshua Fleming

F I S H F RY T R A D I T I O N ≈ PHOTOS: THERESA CAMPBELL. Since 1997, the Spring Fish Fry at Mote-Morris House in Leesburg has been a popular attraction, and the 2021 fish fry on April 1 can go down in history as being hosted on a picture-perfect night, drawing some 500 people for the all-you-can-eat fresh fried catfish, cheese grits, steamed oysters, corn on the cob, coleslaw, collard greens, navy beans, steamed oysters, cornbread, hush puppies, and more. Cash bar, beer and wine were available, too, along with enjoyable music by the Mudds Trio.

@DOWNTOWN LEESBURG

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See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Rayna Moore, Kierstyn Riley, Riley McDowell, and Linda Watts

E 'S WHER ?! M Y P IC


Thank You

For 30 Years of Hometown Banking! To see more, visit us at

www.MyCitizensFirst.com


HI, SOCIETY!

Thomas and Jenny Fross

Clark Barrios, Emcee and Cathy Reardon, Co-Chair

Phil Walker, President, VHA, Joe Beddia, The Godfather and Richard Campbell, UF Health The Villages Hospital Auxiliary Foundation President and Co-Chair

Jim and Nancy Cummings

Andre and Raquel Nacaxe

Mary Beth and Dr. Stephen Autry holding wine donated by Total Wine & More, Beverage Sponsor

Dr. Robert and Lisa Reilly

W I N N I N G V I RT UA L G A L A ≈

@VIRTUAL LIVESTREAM PHOTOS: PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF UF HEALTH FOUNDATION. The 15th annual Hearts for Our Hospital Gala, hosted by

Clark Barrios, Emcee and Joe Beddia, The Godfather

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the Villages Homeowners Advocates (VHA), was a successful livestream gala with 49 sponsors, over 100 auction items, and more than $290,000 in proceeds. The virtual event was hosted at residents’ homes and was visible to more than 100,000 households in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties. The next gala is set for Feb. 12, 2022 and organizers are hopeful it will be an in-person event.

See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

James and Nicole Heller

E 'S WHER ?! M Y P IC


ROCK THE BOAT Enjoy a Summer Like No Other with a Boat Loan from Insight! Rates as low as 5.49% APR*. Plus, be entered to win one of three $250 West Marine gift cards*! Limited time only. Call us today at 407.426.6000 or Toll-Free 888.843.8328, or visit us online to apply for a boat loan today! INSIGHTCREDITUNION.COM *APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Finance a new or used boat with Insight Credit Union starting April 1, 2021, for a limited time and be entered to win one of three $250 West Marine gift cards. Loan subject to normal underwriting guidelines. Your actual rate will be customized based on your credit characteristics. Receive a 0.25% APR auto draft discount when you auto draft your payment from your existing Insight Credit Union checking account. The auto draft discount will be deducted from your actual rate to determine your final rate. All new checking accounts must be qualified and approved to receive the 0.25% APR auto draft discount. Interest accrues from the date of contract. Offer does not apply to refinancing existing Insight Credit Union boat loans. One entry per person only. A random drawing will take place on or around July 20, 2021, and the winner will be notified by July 31, 2021. The odds of winning will be determined by the number of participants. Prize must be collected within 15 days of being notified. To qualify, winner must be a member in good standing. Winner must consent to a photo release to accept the prize. Substitution of prizes is not permitted except at the sole discretion of Insight Credit Union. Employees and their immediate family members are not eligible for the prize drawing. If you desire to enter the drawing other than opening a boat loan, print your name, address and telephone number on a 3x5 card. Send the card to Insight Credit Union $250 West Marine Gift Card Giveaway, Attn: Marketing Department, P.O. Box 4900, Orlando, FL 32802-4900. Other restrictions and fees may apply. Void where prohibited. Drawing governed by Official Rules. See Insight Credit Union for details. Federally Insured by NCUA.


HI, SOCIETY!

Rick Wiggins

Richard Pereira, Chef Daphne Garcia, Lauren Reed and Dana Rhim

Mary Lightcap

Ana Sapijaszko

Beth Hunt and Jackson Scarbrough

Mike Barrett

S. Scott Rollins and Kyle Tetzlaff

S U M T E R C O U N T Y B U S I N E S S S H OWCA S E @BROWNWOOD HOTEL & SPA ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. Brownwood Hotel & Spa in The Villages was the gorgeous venue for the 2021 Sumter County Chamber Business Expo hosted on May 7 for the public. The free event allowed vendors in and around Sumter County to promote their businesses and meet hundreds of new and potential customers or clients. The hotel also provided tasty hors d’oeuvres for the guests to enjoy.

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See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Gladys Ramos and Kristina Adams

E 'S WHER ?! M Y P IC


healthy living MIND. BODY. SOUL.

Care to dance? Teenager Paige Grimes can get you stepping in the right direction.

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INSPIRATION

PEO PLE

Making moves Paige Grimes wants to give every kid the chance to dance. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

ineteen-year-old Paige Grimes is ready for her next “step” after hosting the grand opening for her new dance studio, Full Force Dance Academy in Minneola, on March 28. Paige practiced hip hop, tap, and lyrical when she first started dancing at age 11, but she was dancing all genres by the next year. She began assisting dance teachers when she was 13, and was soon running her own classes, but her passion lies in choreography. In her junior and senior years of high school at Lake Minneola, Paige choreographed a routine with two of her friends for a talent show. The first year they won first place and people’s choice, and the second year they won people’s choice. “As soon as I started helping, I realized I love teaching and choreographing. I love going to competitions and watching the kids get on stage and show off all their hard work and

seeing them come off the stage so excited. So, I knew that was something I always wanted to have a part of my life,” Paige says. When she is choreographing, lyrical is Paige’s favorite style. “There’s always a story behind the routine so I love that, it’s like therapy for me.” One of her most memorable performances was a lyrical dance she choreographed for her trio to the song “To This Day.” The song is about bullying, and it meant a lot to Paige to bring the issue to light and tell people they’re not alone. “Honestly for me, dance has been a lifesaver. There’s been some hard times in my

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration?

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≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL life where I felt I had nowhere to turn, but I could always go to the studio and just focus on dancing, so it has always been my safe place,” she says. One of Paige’s main missions in opening her own studio was to make dance classes available to all students, regardless of their family’s financial situation. “Growing up, we sometimes struggled with being able to pay for dance, so I want to offer some free classes so kids that maybe don’t have the extra income are able to dance in a studio setting and learn, no matter the financial situation,” Paige says. Paige also plans to host fundraisers to fund those classes, as well as to purchase shoes, clothes, and costumes for students.

Email your recommendations to victoria@akersmediagroup.com.


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SPIRIT

LORD OF THE RING Wrestling icon flexes his faith to help aspiring wrestlers reach their dreams. STORY: JAMES COMBS

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≈ PHOTOS: ANTHONY RAO


DI

D

group of spandex-clad warriors gather around 77-year-old Afa Anoa’i, whom they affectionately call ‘Pop.’ One can hear a pin drop as he delivers a straight-from-the-heart message. “I want you to go out there and give it your best,” he tells them. “I love you guys. Please don’t get hurt, because if you get hurt, then I’ll get hurt.” This is Afa’s ministry. This is how he fulfills the dream of his father, who wanted Afa to follow in his footsteps and become a priest. But this isn’t church. His pulpit is a wrestling ring. His sheep are a group of young men and women with chiseled bodies. And instead of wearing a clergy robe, Afa wears his faith behind a black t-shirt with gold letters “WXW.” WXW stands for World X-Treme Wrestling, a professional organization the legendary wrestler formed to showcase the skills of young men and women hoping to become stars. The organization, which is an extension of Afa’s longstanding business, The Wild Samoan Training Center, W KNO ? OU features live matches that attract fans to Y D Minneola City Hall from as far away as INE T RA C K EY A F I Miami and Tampa. A M TO OR AC T U R K E R H I S Matches resemble ones that air weekly R O E FO D E LY AR E WI P , E M H on television. Men deliver forceful PR IN T F I L .” E ED R O L C L A I M ST L E R chops that echo throughout the building. RE AC EW Threats are screamed. High-flying aerial “TH moves are performed off the top corner rope. Afa keeps the acts in the ring rated PG. There is no cussing. No middle fingers. No degrading women. But the most important lessons come outside Vale Anoa’i, Afa Anoa’i, the ring. Some of his students come from and Lynn Anoa’i

broken homes and low-income families. Afa serves as a father figure, providing guidance and structure while instilling the virtues of discipline and respect. Before a show, Afa gathers with his wrestlers for a group prayer. After the show, they congregate at his Minneola home for food, conversation, and camaraderie. “Kids who were living in cars have come to me for help,” Afa says. “I love helping them not only improve as wrestlers but as people as well. I thank God for this opportunity.” Such humility is likely unrecognizable to fans who only know him for his long run as one of wrestling’s baddest bad boys. Afa was one-half of the legendary tag team known as The Wild Samoans. Along with his brother, Sika, their in-ring characters portrayed savage Pacific Islanders who grunted in a primitive dialect and devoured raw fish during live interviews. Then they’d step into the ring and devour their opponents. Their hair was as wild as their antics. The decision to sport giant afros that grew up and out was made after a nasty brush with ignorance. “In the 1970s, Afa and Sika went to a barbershop in Louisiana,” says Afa’s wife, Lynn. “They were chased out because the barber said he didn’t cut their kind of hair. They were hurt and upset after being treated like that and vowed to never have their hair cut again.” Turns out, that encounter was a blessing in disguise. The big hair led to big results and enhanced their image and popularity as primitive wild men. Together, Afa and Sika held 21 tag team titles and became the first tag team to hold the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) tag team belts three times. In 2007, on the eve

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SPIRIT

of WrestleMania 23, the brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Afa left an indelible stamp on professional wrestling. He trained some of the youngest stars of the 1970s and 1980s, including Hulk Hogan, Michael Hayes of the Freebirds, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, and Beth Phoenix, three-time WWW women’s champion. In addition, three generations of the Anoa’i bloodline have chosen professional wrestling as a career. They include Afa’s nephew, wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Tonga Kid, and Sean Maluta. “We call it the Samoan Dynasty,” Afa says. “I’m the head of it.” After retiring from the sport, Afa opened the Wild Samoan Training Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was there where the ruthless warrior became a gentle giant. “The school was located in a bad neighborhood and every now and then a 14-year-old boy who was involved with gangs and drugs would peep through the window to see what was going on,” Lynn says. “Afa promised him that if he quits gangs and drugs he would take the boy off the street and train him for free. The boy graduated from high school and attended college. Today, he has his own business.” That powerful moment gave new meaning to Afa’s life. He started the Usos Foundation to provide scholarship money for students who could not afford training. In Samoan, Usos means “we are brothers.” “The normal tuition to attend my program is $4,000, but to at-risk kids that amount seems like $1 million,” Afa says. “I came from a poor country and moved

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WXW female tag team champions Lindsey and Laurie Carlson.

Tony Ice


“I LOVE THE ANOA’I FAMILY. THEY’RE

THE MOST DOWN-TO-EARTH, GENEROUS PEOPLE. THEY LEAVE THEIR DOOR OPEN TO THEIR FRIENDS 24/7.” — D I A N A H A R T, S I S T E R O F P O P U L A R W R E S T L E R B R E T “THE HITMAN” HART WHO ATTENDED A WORLD X-TREME WRESTLING MATCH IN APRIL.

to the U.S. when I was 16. It was rough. I see myself in a lot of these kids and that’s why it’s in my heart to help them out any way I can.” Afa moved the Wild Samoan Training Center and Usos Foundation to Minneola in 2008. Although the foundation was disbanded several years ago, Afa continues helping young men and women who have experienced life’s hardships. “All these kids have stories,” Afa says. “Some live their cars because they have no place to go. We make them part of us. I do my best to help them advance in their wrestling careers. I cannot guarantee anything, but I can open that door so they can fulfill the same dream I did.” Years have softened Afa’s once-sculpted body. The giant afro is gone, leaving him with a mostly bald head. But the respect he commands from wrestlers like Tony Ice remains strong as ever. In 2014, Tony was homeless, sleeping under a bridge, and dealing with a

host of family issues. That same year, a friend encouraged him to join the Wild Samoan Training Center. He eventually received a scholarship and has been a regular participant in World X-Treme Wrestling matches. Tony has learned valuable lessons that go well beyond properly executing shoulder tosses, body slams, and headlocks. “Coming here turned my life around,” says Tony, 30. “This place has kept me from roaming the streets and landing in jail. Me and some other guys here have screwed up. Pop’s heart is open to giving us a second chance. He identifies our weaknesses and gets us to realize those weaknesses. He’s hard on us. He doesn’t cut corners. His tough love has made us all better men.” Of course, not all students come from dire circumstances. Lindsey and Laurie Carlson, World X-Treme Wrestling’s current female tag team title holders, played college basketball together and currently own a health business in Tampa. The 33-year-old twins drive to Minneola each month to compete in matches. To them, Afa represents wrestling royalty. “There is no place we could go to get better training than right here,” Laurie says. “Training under one of the sport’s legends helps you become the best wrestler you can be. His advice is gold.”

Amid the sounds of cheers, jeers, and body slams, World X-Treme Wrestling allows students to gain crowd exposure and television experience through live events. The crowd, ranging from retired veterans to young couples with small children, are engaged. Fans chant “shut your mouth” to boisterous villains and “you’re too slow” to referees after a wrestler fails to pin his opponent. Matches take place inside a ring given to Afa by WWE chief executive officer Vince McMahon. “Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant have both wrestled inside this ring,” Afa says with child-like enthusiasm. Afa’s daughter, Vale Anoa’i, helps promote the family friendly wrestling events and refers to herself as “the central nervous system of the company.” Actually, she’s been promoting him for a long time. As a young girl, she brought Afa and Sika to her school for show and tell. “The reaction I got from my classmates was priceless,” Vale recalls. “They were in awe.” Today, Afa continues awing people with his kind heart and generosity. His ring persona was hardly fit for a halo, but in the eyes of his students, Pop is a true saint.

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Buon appetito! Roberto Manco serves up delicious Italian cuisine.

menu

FOOD. DRINKS. REVIEWS.

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IN THE KITCHEN

RECIPE

NOW THAT’S ITALIAN! Passion and creativity are favorite ingredients of kitchen magician Roberto Manco. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL Roberto Manco

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aples, Italy native Roberto Manco cherished learning to make cannoli, cakes, and pastries at the Bellavia bakery where his father worked, and he also savored Sunday family meals at his grandparents’ home, where his love for cooking blossomed as he watched his grandmother, mother, and aunts prepare tasty dishes passed down from generation to generation. After graduating high school, Roberto studied at the Ipssar Cavalcanti culinary institute in Naples for five years and honed his skills as a new chef at several upscale hotels and restaurants in Naples before coming to Florida, where he worked at his brother Giovanni’s restaurant. Chef Roberto achieved a long-time dream in 2019, when he opened Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in Pinellas Plaza in The Villages, where homemade bread is served with entrees and diners taste the freshness of ingredients in the dishes, including the homemade cavatelli pasta, mozzarella, and desserts made in-house, including tiramisu and limoncello cake. “During the pandemic when we didn’t have a lot of people coming in, I thought I need to do something different, so I started making pistachio cannoli and it was a big hit. I did not expect that,” Roberto says about his delicious dessert that still sells out quickly. He is pleased he was able to keep his employees employed during the coronavirus shutdown and is happy to see diners slowing returning to dine indoors. Roberto’s cookbook, “A Taste of Italy: Over 100 Easyto-Prepare Recipes,” is available at the restaurant, and

it’s an enjoyable read about the Italian dishes he grew up with. “All of the ingredients you can easily find in stores,” he adds. “I did not want to put in ingredients that you could not find.” Many of the recipes in the cookbook are also on the menu at Roberto’s restaurant. Roberto’s personal menu favorites are the Sea Bass Amalfi and the Grouper Italiano. The first dish is fresh sea bass filet sauteed in a white wine, lemon pepper and garlic sauce served over linguini with a side of fresh medley veggies. He’s also big on the grouper, which features eight ounces of grouper sauteed in olive oil, with mussels and clams, cherry tomatoes, and fresh garlic in a white wine sauce served over linguini which is also very popular with diners. Another favorite: the Cavatelli Alla of Roberto’s featuring homemade cavatelli pasta with shrimp sauteed in garlic and oil, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and sprinkled with shredded mozzarella. Roberto’s wife Oksana, a native of Russia, says her menu favorite is Ziti Campagnola, which is made with sauteed garlic and oil, diced eggplant, fresh plum tomato sauce and basil tossed with ziti pasta and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Roberto and Oksana met in 1999 in Orlando while she was a student at Valencia College and working at the Florida Mall. “He asked me out the same day we met, and we’ve been together ever since,” says Oksana, recalling it was love at first sight for both of them. “I liked his smile. When he first introduced himself, he was like, ‘I’m from Italy and I don’t have a lot of friends here.’”

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IN THE KITCHEN

On June 24, the couple will celebrate their 17th year of marriage. They are the proud parents of three children, Alessio, 11, Anastasia, 9, and Anthony, 7, all students at The Villages Charter School. “The kids love Chicken Alfredo and pizza,” Roberto says of the times they’re at the restaurant after school. “My little one, Anthony, always wants to make a personal pizza when he’s here.” So, what kind of pizza does Anthony whip up, when he has a wide selection of toppings? “A cheese pizza,” Roberto says, grinning. ROBERTO’S RECIPES

The following dishes are featured in “A Taste of Italy: Over 100 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes” and are also available at Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria.

P I Z Z A M A R G H E R I TA

CA PR ESE SA LA D “This is one of the most popular appetizers in Italy, incorporating all three colors of the Italian flag,” says Roberto. INGREDIENTS:

3

large vine-ripened tomatoes

1

pound fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo mozzarella)

5

10

leaves of fresh basil Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper

“Pizza Margherita is the most well-known pizza worldwide,” Roberto writes in his cookbook. “It is the classic Napolitano pizza, made with fresh ingredients such as fresh plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. It was invented by Raffaele Esposito in Naples in 1889. One day the king of Italy, Umberto I, was visiting Naples with his Queen, Margherita. Esposito created three types of pizza. The queen’s favorite was the pizza made with only three basic ingredients, representing the three colors of the Italian flag. The queen encouraged everyone to try this simple, yet incredibly tasty pizza. Everyone loved it, and Esposito named the pizza in honor of Queen Margherita. The pizza’s history is steeped in the city where I grew up. Every pizzeria in Naples makes great pizza, especially in the historic part of Naples. It’s all about using fresh ingredients and cooking them in a wood oven. It takes only three to four minutes for a pizza to be cooked in Naples. Every time I return to Naples, I eat this pizza almost daily.” INGREDIENTS:

4

slices prosciutto

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella and layer them in overlapping slices on a serving dish, adding a basil leaf between each set of the tomato/ mozzarella. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange prosciutto on the side.

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pizza doughs of 12-inch diameter

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 3/4 cups mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) Fresh basil leaves

4 1/2 cups flour 3 1/2 teaspoons fresh yeast 6

tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 1/2 cups fresh plum tomatoes /

12

cup extra virgin olive oil


“EVERY PIZZERIA IN NAPLES MAKES GREAT PIZZA, ESPECIALLY IN THE HISTORIC PART OF NAPLES. ” —ROBERTO MANCO

TIRAMISU

DIRECTIONS:

Place the flour on a worktable and make a hole in the middle of the flour. In a small bowl, pour a cup of warm water, yeast, and salt. Stir with a small whisk or fork until yeast and salt are completely dissolved, and then pour this mixture into the middle of the flour along with the olive oil. Start to mix with both hands, adding remaining water a little at a time. Divide dough in the number of pieces you need for the number of pizzas you are making. Roll each piece with your hands into a round ball, nice and smooth, and place them on a large tray coated with a little bit of flour. You can also roll them and leave them on the worktable. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until the dough doubles in volume—about 1 to 1 hours in a warm place. Now it’s time to stretch the dough to make the pizza. Preheat oven to 500°F. Dice the mozzarella and place in a bowl. Process the tomatoes and place them in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Stretch the dough and place it on a screen or pizza stone and top with a spoonful of sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake at 500°F. for 10 minutes or until crispy if cooked in a gas or electric oven. If cooked in a wood oven, it will be done in 3 to 4 minutes.

3

large eggs separated

12

/

cup sugar

2

tablespoons cognac or liquorish coffee

1

cup mascarpone cheese

3

cups espresso coffee

36

packaged lady fingers

/

cup cocoa

12

DIRECTIONS:

Combine 3 egg yolks, sugar, and cognac into a large mixing bowl. Beat for 3 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until consistency is smooth, approximately 5 minutes. In another bowl, combine the 3 egg whites with a pinch of sugar and beat until mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold into the mascarpone cheese mixture. Pour espresso into a bowl, dip each lady finger into the espresso for only a few seconds, and place a layer

of them on the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Evenly spread a layer of the mascarpone cheese mixture over the lady fingers, sprinkled with cocoa on top. Arrange another layer of lady fingers soaked in espresso and top with another even layer of the mascarpone mixture topped with cocoa. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving. Cut into portions, place on dessert plates, and serve.

Hey, readers! Do you have favorite recipes or know a chef we should profile? Comment on this article or send story ideas to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

THERESA CAMPBELL

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FORK ON THE ROAD

REVIEWS

TO TAPA THINGS OFF Mount Dora eatery offers tasty introductions to exotic foods and faraway cultures. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

odrigo Morocho and Mario Penaherrera go back a long way. They were roommates more than 25 years ago, and today, not only are they still best friends, but brothers-inlaw (Mario’s sister married Rodrigo), and business partners. Their first venture was in 2019, when they took over as owners of the already established Frog and Monkey Restaurant and Pub, and in March 2021, they opened the doors to the Funky Monkey Gastropub. The Frog and Monkey, which features burgers and other pub-inspired food, is located in the basement of what’s known as the Renaissance building at 411 N. Donnelly St., downtown Mount Dora. The Funky Monkey, which offers globally inspired tapas, sharables, unique entrees, and cocktails is located on the second floor of the same building, overlooking Donnelly Street in the space that previously housed The Loft. “The Funky Monkey is our baby. We created it from the ground-up, starting with the layout we wanted, to the décor, the plates, and presentation of everything we are serving,” Rodrigo says. The stars of the Funky Monkey menu are a wide array of tapas (a Spanish name for appetizers or snacks) and sharables based on street foods from all over, but with a Mario twist. Mario, a chef for more than 20 years – including 10 years as executive chef for the Miami Dolphins – says he kept various cultures in mind when dreaming up each of his from-scratch recipes, prepared expertly at

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL the restaurant by Head Chef Joey Cusmano and Pastry Chef Andy Bolin. Rodrigo’s wife Debbie Penaherrera is the restaurant’s bartender and mixologist, and Mario’s wife Maria Icaza is the general manager. “Our menu’s main focus is a trip around the world. There are items from Latin America to Japanese fusion, Mediterranean, and a little from Ecuador, South America, where we’re both from,” says Mario, explaining that their two tastes from home are the Ecuadorian street-style corn; grilled corn rolled in a cilantro queso sauce, garnished with lime and


fresh cilantro, and the El Sanduchito; roasted pork served on a hard roll with lettuce, tomato, pickled onions and green pepper with mustard mayo, served with pork au jus. “We wanted to incorporate some of our culture and some of the foods we miss,” he says. World culture is not the only theme. “We believe in the power of the (Cannabis) plant, and we embrace the 4/20 culture. It’s kind of a subculture we are going with and we’re getting a good response from the younger crowd,” Mario says. With that in mind, the restaurant opens most days at 4:20 p.m. Happy Hour goes to 6 p.m. and includes specials that cost $4.20 and selections like the Pineapple Express, a fried chicken sandwich named after the Cannabis strain of the same name. Mario says the sandwich shares a similar flavor profile and is made using the plant’s terpenes, hot sauce, and locally sourced pickles on a Hawaiian sweet roll. As vendors are secured, the restaurant will also be offering more types of CBD infused beers, cocktails, and lemonade, Mario says. While there, Style Photographer Nicole Hamel and I tried the Pineapple Express sandwich and were taken by the unique flavors in every bite. We also tried the street corn and pork sandwich, plus the Patatas Bravas, fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce, saffron, aioli and microgreens, and the Avocado Hummus, served with a mélange of fresh vegetables, plantain chips and flatbread garnished with lemon oil. To top things off, we had the Monkey Bread Tres Leches, described on the menu as “cinnamon sugar tossed biscuit dough dunked into a three-milk mix, served with house-made raspberry

Rodrigo Morocho and Mario Penaherrera

caramel, frog jam and whipped cream,” that was beyond heavenly. “Every time I think one thing is my favorite, I taste the next thing and I change my mind,” says Nicole. What I enjoyed most was the corn. It reminded me of the roasted corn sold at street fairs in Arizona where I grew up, but better, because at the Funky Monkey, the cilantro queso sauce that clung to every kernel, took it to a whole other level. And for the night owls in town, the Funky Monkey, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, is one of few restaurants in town that stays open late and serves food until closing. On weekend evenings, there is live music and a DJ, and a weekly Sunday brunch complete with pancakes and other tasty food selections, unlimited Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, from 11 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. Still, Rodrigo says the thing the Funky Monkey offers that he’s most proud of, is the experience. “We want to offer more elevated cuisine,” Rodrigo says. “We care so much about the food and when it’s served to our customers, we want it to appeal to all five senses, from the way it looks and smells to the way it tastes and feels in your hand.”

IF YOU GO

THE FUNKY MONKEY 411 N. Donnelly St., Suite 212, Mount Dora Hours: 4:20 p.m. - 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4:20 p.m. – 1 a.m. Friday; 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays and Tuesdays 352.720.3279 funkymonkey.com facebook.com/ thefunkymonkeygastrobar

Let’s do lunch or dinner Tell us about a great restaurant by emailing roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

ROXANNE BROWN

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DINING GUIDE

dine

OUT From classic diners and lakeside restaurants to fine dining and everything in-between, Lake County’s culinary scene is booming. Your favorite meal is sure to be served with a side of hospitality. Denotes locations where you can find Lake & Sumter Style A S TAT U L A

CLERMONT

Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940

Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

ASTOR Blackwater Inn 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US SR 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 SR 40 352.759.3551 Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.2802

Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337 Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924

BUSHNELL

Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000

Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925

Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318

El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884

Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877

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Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818 G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825 Goomba’s Pizzeria 2395 S. Hwy 27 352.989.4403 Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118 Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036 Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • J U N ' 2 1

Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031 Southern on 8th Kitchen & Bar 801 W. Montrose St. 352.394.7777 Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295 Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225 EUSTIS Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600

Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444

Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988

NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256

James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050

Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. CR 44 352.589.9100 Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022 Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949 The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929

Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499

H OW EY- I N THE -HILLS

Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989

JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600

Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177

La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910

God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447

Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718

F RU I T L A N D PA R K

El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335

Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051 Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595 Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028 The Rose Plantation 200 Rose Ave., Fruitland Park 352.805.4340 G R OV E L A N D Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999

Coffee Snob 1101 W. North Blvd. 352.460.4570 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442

L A DY L A K E

ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227

Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377

Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001

Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020

Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998

Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill 860 S. Hwy 27/441 352.751.5640 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 LEESBURG Bloom’s 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004 Breakfast Station 2229 Citrus Blvd. 352.315.0291 Brick & Barrel 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069

Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 CR 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Main Street Cantina 205 W. Main St. 352.435.7279 Mamma Mia Pizza 755 North 14th St. 352.326.0101 Mammoth Oak Brewing Company 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.326.0100 Mrs. T’s Place, Southern Restaurant 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616


Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633 Arigato Steak House 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293

MINNEOLA Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500

Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 Olive Branch Grille 115 W. 3rd St. 352.729.6734 One Flight Up 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.735.1446

Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680

The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100

Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565

Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232

PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093

MOUNT DORA

Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174 Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840 Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921 Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

Lake House Bar & Grill 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433

Barnwood Country Kitchen & Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903

Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327

The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717

Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426

The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494

Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000

The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250

Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540

Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274

Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936

Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777

Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446

MASCOTTE

Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444

Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093

Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669

J.K. Thai Garden 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.4700 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911

The Bavarian Haus 433 N. Alexander St. 352.735.8387 The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 The Pizza Shop 925 E. First Ave. 352.735.3411 Vincent’s Italian Restaurant 5914 Orange Blossom Trl. 352.735.4578 Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 SORRENTO Del Franco’s Pizza 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Lisa’s Kountry Cafe 23911 CR 46 352.735.3380 TAVA R E S Bella Nona Pizzeria 280 Silverado St. 352.508.9370

BTW (Burgers, Tacos & Waffles) 115 E. Main St. 352.508.9287 Fish Camp Lake Eustis 901 Lake Shore Blvd. 352.742.4400 Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137 Kalua Hale Beach Bar 181 S. Joanna Ave. 352.609.5910 Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313 Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823 O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157 Palm Gardens Restaurant 1661 Palm Garden St. 352.431.3217 Puddle Jumpers 111 W Ruby St. 352.508.5862 Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829 Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744 Tavares Ice Cream 214 E. Main 352.508.5342 The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585 Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St., Tavares 352.508.5783

THE V I L L AG E S Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208 BlueFin Grill & Bar 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.571.5344 Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627 Chengs Chinese Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678 China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965 Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000 Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225 Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400 Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600 Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824 NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994 Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501 Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004 The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535 W I L DWO O D China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293

Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939

Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223

Sakura 265 Colony Blvd. 352.205.7393

Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800 Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005 VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887

Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

U M AT I L L A Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250 Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145

Legacy Restaurant 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475

Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 SR 19 352.669.3922

RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.5272

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555

Gators of Umatilla LLC 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 2468 Burnsed Blvd., 352.626.1059 Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077 Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109 YA L A H A Yalaha Bakery 8210 CR 48 352.324.3366

GOOD GRUB

THIS MONTH'S EDITOR'S PICK

Blackwater Inn It doesn’t matter whether you arrive by vehicle or boat. A dining experience at Blackwater Inn provides visitors with the beautiful sights and wonderful tastes of Florida. Diners can look out large glass windows and see the scenic St. Johns River while feasting on the Florida Cracker Platter, featuring fingerling catfish, frog legs, and alligator tail. Don’t forget that slow-roasted prime rib and delicious salad bar. If you’re looking for a true Florida dining experience, a trip to Blackwater Inn is a must. 55716 Front St., Astor / 352.759.3802

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DINING GUIDE

Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 352.753.2722 | 304 US-441, LADY LAKE Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant in Lady Lake has the distinct honor of calling itself a true family-owned restaurant. In fact, five generations of family members have represented the restaurant since its humble beginnings in May 1962. As many generations of customers have dined there throughout the years thanks to the outstanding service and scrumptious dishes such as Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, Delmonico steak, and lasagna. This food savvy family prepares everything from scratch, crafting everything with love to satisfy your taste buds.

Subway SUBWAY.COM LADY LAKE | 208 W. GUAVA ST. | 352.750.4929 EUSTIS | 469 PLAZA DR. | 352.357.7827 MOUNT DORA | 18870 U.S. HWY. 441 | 352.735.4376 LEESBURG | 2013 CITRUS BLVD. | 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 4 | 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, SUITE 4 | 352.314.8847

Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Full Gluten-Free Menu

Custommade, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food.

THE VILLAGES | 1580 BELLA CRUZ DRIVE | 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165TH MULBERRY LANE | 352.750.9991 1070 LAKE SUMTER LANDING DRIVE | 352.205.8535 349 COLONY BLVD. | 352.391.1657 WILDWOOD | 480 W. GULF TO ALANTIC HWY. | 352.748.8800

Yalaha Bakery 352.324.3366 | 8210 STATE ROAD 48, YALAHA The family owned German Bakery since 1995, is an award-winning Bakery that offers to customers high-quality German products made with the highest culinary standards. Fine European pastries and breads are made with organic flours, chocolates, and spices, butter, and imported European ingredients. Take home tortes, tarts, and wonderful pretzels, but before you go home, enjoy something from our delicious deli menu. We serve breakfast from 8-11am and lunch and dinner are served 11am-7pm. Enjoy German specialties like Nurnberger breakfast, Hunterschnitzel with Spätzle, Bratwurst, Reuben, Quiche, typical German soups, and maybe Semelknoedel (bread dumplings with mushroom sauce) for lunch or dinner. We offer a fine selection of German beers and wines. Whatever time of day, you’ll find something you love at Yalaha Bakery. On the weekends you can come and enjoy various events and music concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at our Beer Garden. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via our website www.yalahabakery.com

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Open Daily 8am-7pm

A German Bakery Like No Other!


SPIRITS

REVIEWS

Going tropical Kalua Beach Bar provides ideal setting to chill and savor a Rum Runner, Tropical Tease, Blue Lagoon, and other drinks. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

alua Beach Bar’s cool lakeside vibe offers the idyllic, picture-perfect ambiance to enjoy a cocktail or fruity tropicaltheme drink on a beautiful, sunny day or evening on Lake Dora’s waterfront in Tavares, America’s Seaplane City, where the view is a favorite with regulars and vacationers, and the setting makes savoring a tropical drink even more delicious. Admit it. There’s something visually appealing about being served a drink

garnished with a skewer of fresh orange slices, maraschino cherries, or a pineapple wedge. Margaritas, Rum Runner, Tropical Tease, Blue Lagoon, and the Malibu are among the drinks Jolene Depeal whips up at Kalua. “Anything mixed with juices or a sweet-flavored rum or vodka is popular,” says Jolene, one of several bartenders and servers at Kalua. She has been at the beach bar for a little over three years. “We do a lot of specialty fruity drinks. Our Margaritas are really good, and our Long Island Iced Tea is very refreshing and very light.”


“I LOVE THE ATMOSPHERE, THE CUSTOMERS, THE WATER, THE SCENERY. I JUST LOVE IT.” —JACKIE JOHNSON

As Jolene mixes up a few colorful drinks, she reveals their liqueurs. “The Rum Runner has a light rum, a dark rum, banana liqueur and a blackberry liqueur, grenadine, and pineapple and orange juice. It is one of our top drinks.” Her personal favorite varies, ranging from “a good traditional Margarita, a Tropical Tease, and I love the Malibu, which is made with coconut rum, and it reminds me of the smell of sunscreen,” she says of the drink that also has pineapple, orange juice, grenadine, and cherries. Style photographer Nicole Hamel and I found the drinks Jolene prepared to be delicious. The Blue Lagoon offered a nice citrus flavor along with blue curaçao for its captivating color, and the tasty Tropical Tease was delightful, made with two rums, grenadine, pineapple, and orange juice. Jolene often hears compliments about Kalua’s atmosphere. She feels the same way. “I love the atmosphere, the customers, the water, the scenery. I just love it,” she says. “We have the snowbirds, the people who own retirement homes or timeshares at Tiki West; there is a wide variety people who come here. And any time there are events Tavares is having, Kalua is a hot spot, especially all of the events around the water with all the boat access, all the seaplanes. This is just a really nice spot.” The beach bar, owned by Randy Connor, also offers live entertainment. Sundays are among the most popular, featuring reggae music. “Reggae Sunday is insanely busy and draws hundreds,” Jolene says of the 2 to 6 p.m. entertainment. “It’s very upbeat, very exciting. Sanky and his crew definitely brings in huge crowds, and so do the other bands that play; they all bring in a good crowd.” IF YOU GO

KALUA BEACH BAR 181 S. Joanna Ave. Tavares, FL Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 352.609.5910 or visit kaluabeachbar.com

“I love everything about Reggae Sunday,” says Tavares snowbird Amy Cuddahee. “To me it’s just a great day to forget about your worries and enjoy the music, sunshine and cocktails. The view is pretty amazing, too.” “The thing I enjoy about Reggae Sunday is when Sanky and his crew are performing,” adds Cathy Hunter of Leesburg. “He has been here such a long time, and it’s like we’ve turned into a big family. Sanky always brings out the crowd and people just love him and his band.” Amy and Cathy are among many who enjoy listening and dancing to the music while savoring their favorite drinks and foods at the beach bar. “Their queso and chips and Buffalo chicken wing dip is off the charts delicious,” says Amy. In addition to a variety of appetizers, Jolene adds that the beach bar’s burgers are among the most popular. “Our burgers are amazing, so are the blackened fish tacos, nachos, the chicken Caesar wrap.” “All of their food is good,” adds Cathy, who relishes enjoying Kalua’s appetizers and entrées with the beach bar’s tropical drinks made with coconut rum, fruits and grenadine. The Malibu, Blue Lagoon and Tropical Tease are among her go-to drinks on Reggae Sunday afternoons.

Do you know a place where we can drink? Comment on this article or send story ideas to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

THERESA CAMPBELL

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FINAL THOUGHT

CO MMENTARY

Life changes You make plans and the universe laughs. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

’ve heard the saying “You make your plans and God laughs,” and I have found this to be especially true since I turned 25 last month, and the milestone birthday hit me somewhat hard, and had me thinking of where teenage-me would’ve expected I’d be at this age because I never thought I would be living in Florida, or still living with my parents. The one thing 15-year-old me would be proud of is my career, and that I’m doing exactly what I went to school for and what I’d hoped to be doing by now. When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2018, I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do career-wise, so I continued to waitress in Buffalo for about a year before deciding to stay with my parents in Florida to save money while I figured that out. At the time I thought I would be here for six months, a year max. Here I am almost two years later, still “figuring it out.” In the meantime, Lake County and Florida have grown on me, and there are other factors that have convinced

me to stay in the area at least a little while longer. For one, I appreciate the nature in Lake County, all of the festivals and events, and the community I’ve become a part of. My grandma also moved to Tavares last August, and as she just turned 75, I appreciate being able to spend time with her going to local festivals, and to a monthly writers’ group. I’ve also made quality friends here that I don’t want to say goodbye to anytime soon. Although times have changed since my parents’ generation in regards to when “young adults” get married, have kids, and even move out of their parents’ house (as all of those ages have been pushed back), I think it’s safe to say most of my peers still feel the pressure of running out of time, and the need to hurry up and get to where we think we should be. All that said, it’s safe to say the universe laughed at me, and my plans have changed. I just try to remember that if I’m not where I expected to be at this moment in time, it’s where I’m meant to be, and I should just go with it and understand I’ll get to what I’m working towards eventually. I have plenty of time.

Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

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VICTORIA SCHLABIG


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Style Magazine, Village Edition, June 2021  

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