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January 2018


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Beautiful Homes Begin Here!

Your bedding headquarters! 352.435 .6131 // // 8626 US Hwy 441, Leesburg Mon-Fri 9am-6pm // Sat 10am-6pm // Sun 12pm-5pm


“We were treated so well that we felt like we became part of the Plaza Cadillac family. Our salesman, Rick Jimenez, continued keeping in touch with us until he found the ideal car for us. He followed through on everything we requested, and he is an outstanding listener.” — MICHAEL AND BONNIE BOLTER WITH TIKA, THE VILLAGES

PLAZA C A D I L L AC 8893 US HWY 441, LEESBURG, FL 34788 // 352.787.1323 // PLAZACADILLAC.COM


tired of your relationship with reading glasses?

Meet Raindrop®, a solution you can enjoy full-time. Presbyopia, or age-related near vision loss, occurs when the eye’s lens loses moisture and flexibility, necessitating an annoying, on-again, off-again routine with reading glasses. Now there’s Raindrop, a tiny, transparent near vision inlay. Smaller than a drop of water, the FDAapproved Raindrop fits just beneath the eye’s surface, invisibly providing elasticity to the eye to improve near vision, even in low light. Placed by your Lake Eye ophthalmologist in about 10 minutes, Raindrop can restore near vision long-term. Lake Eye is the only regional provider offering Raindrop, so contact us to find out if you’re a candidate for this quick, safe, surgical procedure. It might be the last time you need to find your “cheaters” to read a menu or make a phone call. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?


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$150 Words from Lake County’s first Raindrop® recipient! “Dr. Wehrly implanted the Raindrop, which took less than 10 minutes. It was totally painless. I can read even tiny print now and have stopped using reading glasses altogether. Raindrop has been life-changing!” — Dana Gallo

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Board-certified ophthalmologists: SCOT HOLMAN, MD, SCOTT WEHRLY, MD and VINAY GUTTI, MD

Now at Precision Optics, purchase premium polycarbonate and anti-reflective lenses and save up to $150.00 OFF any pair of fashion-forward, designer frames. That’s right—select thin, lightweight poly lenses and crisp, scratch and glare resistant anti-reflective lenses for enhanced clarity and nighttime safety, and we’ll take up to $150.00 OFF your choice of frames.

Make 2018 stylish, savvy and smart— but don’t wait. This deal ends January 31st.

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352-365-2021 • *Discount applies to complete set of glasses, lens and frame, excludes all contact lenses. Discount is not available with insurance or vision plans. Discount does not apply for Maui Jim, Costa Del Mar and Fitovers. Sale ends 1/31/18.



Liz had ImageLift, Laser, and filler treatments. Results are typical and do vary.

Kathy had a Laser ImageLift. Results are typical and do vary.

YOU’RE INVITED TO FIND OUT! Double Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

Free ImageLift seminars are being held at the following locations in December and January. Meet the doctor and enjoy free food, books, *drawings and door prizes. Raffle drawings for free filler, a $995-$1200 value









FREE IMAGELIFT BOOK for first 20 callers! Limited quantities (Retail $14.95)


is a Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon as seen on:

*Patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hrs of responding to ad for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination, or treatment.

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Our FREE Annuities 101 is an exclusive, classroom-style workshop designed to teach you how annuities work. And YES, we’ll put it all in layman’s terms! With all the controversy and confusion surrounding these products, we are on a mission to educate YOU and “set the record straight.” No products will be sold or presented, this is strictly educational.

MISSION INN RESORT & CLUB 10400 County Road 48, Howey-in-the-Hills, FL 34737 *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.

JANUARY 2018 // VOL.14 NO. 3 // F e a t u r e s

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January 2018






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a m to ro d Su and aces, y yea Ever eople, pl n Lake an for cities for fun s tp ri go p abou hat occu e big plan here to a gator u t w h e s t d e g , s n n thi new ment, a , and to hat’s ts op out w ic devel estauran r m t o a n BASI re eco IS GER rts, g al. o L , CHR L p E s B n P M with ES A CA perso , THER and e OMBS s C S o E l M c STORIE



January 2018




d e pa r t m e n t s

68 74



22 26 28 30


#Trending Person of Interest Outstanding Student This ‘N That


62 66 68 70 74 77

The To-Do List In Concert Local Talent Out+About Social Spotlight Hi, Society!


89 A R O U N D T H E TA B L E

90 92 96 102 104

Quick Bites In the Kitchen Fork on the Road Saluté Dining Guide


16 From the Publisher 112 Final Thought

22 14





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From The Publisher

C o m m e n t s o r qu e s t i o n s ?

Our goal is to provide you with the best quality publication, so your feedback is vital.

Never a dull moment any people think

January is a bit of a downer after all the celebration and fellowship of the holidays. We at Style have to disagree this year. 2018 is going to be a year of change and growth for Lake and Sumter counties. When we began working on this issue, we thought we’d just list a few places, people, and changes in our area. We had no idea it would be a major project for our writers to be certain we got everything that’s happening this year in one magazine. The growth and developments in both counties are occurring on an almost-daily basis. In almost every town, there are signs indicating new businesses, housing developments, restaurants, and sports. Have you tried playing disc golf yet? No clubs, but plenty of hazards. I’ve been in Lake County all my life, and it gives me immense pride to see it becoming a place with such energy and progress. Sumter County is doing the same. When we see our counties working hard to increase businesses and jobs, and to provide a stable place to live and raise a family, we know we’re living in a good place. I also like to see the new year as a clean page where I can write my own story for the next 365 days. I want to set reachable goals with a sense of well-being and great expectation. I want to create my world so that my work and my family are in harmony without one overriding the other. I’m also thrilled at the thought of what will happen with Lake & Sumter Style in the upcoming months. Our editorial calendar is filled with interesting—and entertaining—ideas. Look for an issue offering suggestions for travel from here to any part of our state or another part of the world. Thinking about some renovating or updating your home? Watch for the do-ityourself issue. Of course, we’ll always have our favorites during the year—Business Women and Men of Style, the Hot Issue, and Extraordinary People. We’re already at work on these great stories and look forward to sharing with you the people, places, events, and excellent restaurants that make these two Central Florida counties the best places in Florida to live. To the new year,

Kendra Akers




At You r S e rv i c e


Hot Off The Press!

Sneak Peek

The latest editions of Lake & Sumter Style, Village Style, Healthy Living and Welcome to Lake County. BATTLING CANCER | A local woman is armed with a weapon—a positive attitude p.14

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J A N '18

November 2017




January 2018










Editorial // Design // Photography



Like learning everything about local physicians? This issue is just what the doctor ordered.





for ntile ians perce physic gy ally Urolonation




IT’S NO FISH TALE Lake County has the largest bass in the state! RAISING THE BAR The NTC is a gold mine for Olympians!

The skinny on negative-calorie foods.

DISC GOLF A new spin on an old sport!

Get yours

Coming in February:


SUBSCRIPTIONS: Order a subscription of your favorite magazine to be delivered directly to your home for just $81. Each subscription includes 12 consecutive issues of Lake & Sumter Style, Village Style or Healthy Living. Choose 2 or more magazines for $102 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 or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. BACK ISSUES: Order a single issue by mail for $7, or 2 or more single issues for $9. To pick up a back issue from our office, please call 24 hours in advance.

Mary Ann DeSantis Fred Hilton Joe Angione sales // marketing


Digitize your life.

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


Presented by


Scott Hegg DISTRIBUTION MANAGER digital social media

Garrett Reardon DIGITAL SPECIALIST Lake & Sumter Style is a proud member of

Florida Magazine Association

Leesburg Partnership

Leesburg Tavares Chamber South Lake of Commerce Chamber Chamber of Commerce of Commerce


Lake Eustis Area Chamber of Commerce

Sumter County Chamber of Commerce

American Advertising Association


Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2017 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” and “Special 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.

#Jaxon Strong

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Brandon Buell’s blog about his son, Jaxon, and the positive impact that Jaxon’s life is making around the world.

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January 2018



Prostate Problems? As men mature, the prostate grows from a walnut-sized gland to sometimes as large as an orange. This growth causes outflow problems from the bladder in the passing of urine, resulting in symptoms from a slow stream, getting up at night to urinate, or even worse—the constant urge to urinate, even to the point that urination begins before they reach the bathroom. These inconvenient, and often embarrassing symptoms, can be resolved by proper treatment of the enlarged prostate. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Dr. James Young is a very successful urologist who has been practicing in Lake County since 1982. “The treatment of BPH (an enlarged prostate) has always been my focus, and that is the primary reason I moved to Florida when I finished my medical training as Chief Resident of Urology at the University of Arkansas. I looked at Florida as being the largest ‘prostate ranch’ in the United States, so I began my practice from scratch in Eustis in 1982.” For many decades, the only treatment for BPH was a surgical procedure, the TURP, more commonly referred to by men as a “roto-rooter.” Dr. Young performed more 3,000 of these procedures, however they were very invasive, required anesthesia, hospitalization, and could have serious complications, including massive bleeding and at times, death. Then medications were approved that relieved symptoms but after a period of time, the medications lose their effectiveness or caused side effects, usually sexual in nature. There had to be a better way. In the late 1990’s a new procedure, transurethral




needle ablation of the prostate (TUNA) was approved by the FDA. “I was never a fan of jumping on new technology quickly because, as we know, not everything delivers the results as promised,” says Dr. Young. However, after the procedure was used for five years, Dr. Young began doing TUNAs, later known as Prostiva RF therapy. This procedure was done in the office under local anesthesia with few complications. The procedure worked by inserting wires into the prostate, then low frequency radio waves were transmitted through the wires and heated prostate tissue to 115 degrees Celsius. This heat was transmitted in a conductive manner (radiate from the wires) but the heat dissipated rapidly as it traveled away from the wires. The heat was reduced by the formula of 1/r2 with r being the distance from the wires. Basically, cores of prostate tissue surrounding the wires were destroyed. Dr. Young had tremendous success with Prostiva RF therapy and ultimately did almost 3,000 procedures. His success with Prostiva gave him the distinction of being placed on

Castle Connelly’s Top Docs list for five consecutive years. However, more than five years ago, Dr. Young heard rumors of a new technology that was similar in some ways, but completely different in others. This new therapy was FDA approved in 2015 and was known as Rezum. “Even though I have a reputation for not jumping on new technology, I completely understood the science behind Rezum, so as soon as it was available to me, I switched to this procedure immediately. The science driving this technology is fascinating. Using low frequency radio waves, water is transformed into steam and then nine seconds of steam is infiltrated into the prostate tissue, once again in the office under local anesthesia. The major difference is the heat is transferred in a convective, as opposed to conductive manner. As Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed.” So once the steam is infiltrated into the prostate, and returns to liquid, it releases all the energy that changed the water into steam. This is a tremendous amount of energy and destroys much

more prostate tissue than the conductive heat did conveyed by Prostiva. There is much less discomfort with Rezum and when patients leave the office (usually in under 30 minutes), they experience no pain what so ever. Since June 2016, Dr. Young has performed just under 300 Rezum procedures, almost twice as many as any other urologist in the United States and many, many more than any other urologists in the state of Florida. “The results have been so amazing and the patients have been so happy that notified me that based on my recent reviews and clicks on my site, I am now ranked in the top 100th percentile of all urologists in the United States. While I am very proud of that, it is also very humbling. I personally think this is biggest leap forward in the treatment of BPH that I will see in my lifetime.” ________________________________


Board-certified Urologist Practicing in Lake County since 1982 with extensive experience in evaluation and management of prostate problems.

COMPREHENSIVE CARE If you are a first-time patient of Dr. Young, you will receive a detailed examination. “When I see a new patient I perform physical examinations and properly evaluate the patient’s symptoms, thus diagnosing the underlying problem(s),” Dr. Young said. “Next, I describe to the patient what’s normal and then explain what is abnormal with him. Lastly, I teach him his treatment options. If I’ve done a good job of teaching, he will select the correct option for himself.” While prescribing medications for enlarged prostate can be done by primary care physicians, only urologists are trained to thoroughly evaluate the bladder and prostate (including ruling out prostate cancer), as well as providing extremely effective minimally invasive, office-based therapies as alternatives to lifelong medical therapy. With an office staff with nearly as much experience as

the doctor (many have worked with Dr. Young for 25 years), you don’t spend a great deal of time waiting to see him. “We pride ourselves in being timely in seeing our patients. We respect our patients’ time as much as we do our own. Patients appreciate this; many of our patients tell me I have the best office staff on the planet. I consider that a huge compliment.” So if you are waking up at night and have difficulty falling back asleep because you’re worried what may be wrong, then it is time to check in with Dr. Young and have him examine you. “Many men accept frequent bladder urges as part of aging. And while it is part of the aging process, it’s not like death and taxes. There is something you can do about it.”

James W. Young III, M.D. Nationally recognized board-certified urologist

PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING Annually over 50 years of age (At age 40 if family history or African American)

Introducing Rezum Therapy for enlarged prostate.

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This is hard to put into words

A long march for King

January is known for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a celebration of the civil rights leader. But much like the progress of that movement, the road to King’s holiday was long and arduous, taking 18 years before final approval. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan introduced legislation to create the federal holiday just four days after King’s assassination in 1968 at the age of 39. In 1973, Illinois became the first state to adopt a state holiday for King. Ten years later, Congress finally passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating the national holiday, which was first celebrated Jan. 20, 1986. This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 15, his birthdate, and communities throughout the region will honor King. In Leesburg, for example, the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade is scheduled to start at 11am Saturday, Jan. 13. The multicultural parade and march of walkers, floats, and groups will travel on West Main Street in downtown Leesburg. Call 352.552.7540 for information.




Here’s deeply disturbing news for anyone reading these words and for the people who write them: Emojis are the fastestgrowing “language” on the internet, with almost a third of global internet users classified as “emoji super-users,” according to Foresight Factory, a business that analyzes consumer trends. This number is predicted to double to nearly two-thirds in 2018. For people who still communicate in words, emojis are the small digital icons used to express emotions in electronic communications. The use of these icons extends beyond millennials and across age groups and demographics. A Foresight Factory web post states that emojis aren’t just providing a means of emotional expression that resonates—humans respond to them in a similar way to human facial expressions, a 2014 study found—they also quantify those emotions in a manner that’s ideal for data analysis that helps marketers and businesses. What does all this mean for the written word?

Ja m e s C o m b s’



This Honest Food, a holistic teaching kitchen, will open this month in Clermont. The company provides individual and group cooking lessons, as well as holistic seminars and healthy cooking boot camps. If I’m being honest, here’s what my meal plan would look like on the first day I attempted to eat healthy food. 9am: protein shake and oatmeal. Noon: chicken breast and asparagus. 5pm: grilled salmon and organic tomatoes. 9:30pm: two large and greasy “I-don’t-give-a-crap-anymore” pizzas. Here’s an interesting fact: More than 1.78 million Floridians have a concealed-weapon license. That number will startle some because they feel guns kill people. If that’s the case, can I blame my spoon for being obese?


A man known as “Minneola’s Superhero” was arrested after breaking into a woman’s car and attempting to pull her pants down. He’s considered a superhero because he dresses like Superman and waves at cars passing by. If he continues doing things like this, however, people will assume the “S” on his cape stands for stupid.


Some moron tied a quail’s legs to a block and left it under a tree near Florida Hospital Waterman. Fortunately, Tavares police officers were able to free the bird. It’s nice to hear heartwarming stories like this. I’m glad the police officers took the quail under their wings.


Lake County commissioners voted to ban medical marijuana shops. Hasn’t anyone told our elected officials that a joint a day keeps the doctor away?


Preserving Mount Dora’s charm The Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce will join city leaders and officials from Visit Mount Dora and Lake County Economic Development and Tourism to discuss partnerships and goals in keeping the area the best place to live, work, and play, according to the chamber website. The event will be hosted 5:30-8:30pm Jan. 25 at Lake Receptions, 4425 N. Highway 19A, Mount Dora. Tickets are available by contacting the chamber at 352.383.2165 or by visiting LEESBURG

New meeting place for 2018 Businesses that need a place in downtown Leesburg for corporate meetings for 20-plus people will soon be able to meet at Southern Gourmet & Café, 314 W. Main St., since the popular eatery has expanded its location with an additional 3,000 square feet of space. “There are lots of changes coming, a little at a time,” says Sandy Maddox, who co-owns the café with her son and husband. Sandy says the banquet/meeting room will be a new offering in 2018, and it will be set up in a secluded area behind the café’s new gift shop.

Walk or bike off the pounds Almost everyone resolves to shed some pounds after the holiday eating. Lake and Sumter counties abound with outdoor walking trails to make exercise more pleasant and better than watching treadmill televisions. Check for information on Lake County for Sumter County adventures.

January 2018


* #I TnR ETNhD eI N GK n o w


Broadway bound

Start the new year with a new pal Feeling blue after all the excitement of the holidays? Maybe you just need a good pal to hang out with you. Where do you find a new friend? At your local animal shelter.

Lake County Animal Shelter 28123 County Road 561, Tavares 352.343.9688 Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm Sat: 10am-4pm Closed every third Wednesday of the month for cleaning and training.

Tune radio, call/dial


Listening to radio



Human Society of Sumter County 994 County Road 529A, Lake Panasoffkee 352.793.9117 Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm Kennels: Mon-Sat: 9am-4pm Kibbles Pet Food Program Sat: 10am-2pm

Distracted teen drivers Navigation


Sumter County Animal Services Partnership Program Mon-Fri: 10:30am-4pm Sat: 10:30am-1:30pm

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,333 teenagers were killed in 2015 in the United States, and 221,313 teens were treated in emergency rooms for vehicle crashes. This chart may offer some reasons why. Be alert, wear seatbelts, and arrive alive!


Did you know? Before Lady Lake was incorporated in 1925, the Lady Lake Historical Society says the area was known as Conant, a thriving community named after Sherman Conant, one of the financiers of the Florida Southern Railroad. Structures in the town included a threestory hotel; the Osbern House, a ladies’ finishing school built in 1884; the McLean Farm; a post office; Conant’s General Store; and many homes. According to Lake County historian William T. Kennedy, the demise of Conant occurred because the promoters were snobbish and did not accept people who did their own work rather than hiring laborers or who sent their children to a public school, so many families moved to more congenial towns. The historical society says residents named Lady Lake after a lake east of town, and Conant became part of the town.

Conant photos courtesty Lady Lake Historical Society

In the midst of its 13th season, the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra will ring in the new year with well-known songs from Broadway shows. The orchestra presents two performances of “Broadway Baby,” at 7:30pm Jan. 11 at Epiphany Celebration Anglican Church, 1724 S. Bay St., Eustis, and at 7:30pm Jan. 12 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 13600 Caspian Lane, Clermont. Music includes songs from shows such as “Porgy and Bess,” “Showboat,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Music Man,” and many others. Made up of more than 60 professional musicians from all over the world, the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra is the resident professional orchestra of Lake County. Tickets are $15-$42 and can be purchased at For more information, call 352.589.1500.

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WHEN YOUR RETINAL HEALTH IS AT RISK SEE DR. MUGE R. KESEN SERVING PATIENTS IN THE VILLAGES & CENTRAL FL 1400 US Hwy 441 N. Sharon Morse Medical Office Building, Suite 352 The Villages, FL 32159 Tel: 352.643.8827 January 2018



Dick Campbell Foundation president



Leads as president of the Auxiliary Foundation of The Villages Regional Hospital. Enjoyed 30-year-career as psychologist, mainly helping attorneys and physicians. A Villages resident for 12 years, he moved to the Sunshine State from Pennsylvania.

How I became Auxiliary Foundation president: Members of the hospital board and Don Henderson, the CEO, asked me if I would put together a foundation for them. I was chairman of the fundraising group for the auxiliary at the time. It took me four months to make the decision, because I know how much work it takes to put something together. My handprints are all over this thing.

My life before The Villages: I was a psychologist. To me, it was fun to learn how people think. People are resilient when they start to believe in themselves, but when they start to blame someone, they dig a hole that they can’t get out of. In my practice, I encouraged people to be honest with themselves. Pet peeves: Life is too short for pet peeves.

My strength: Working hard. I’m very productive, but I’m only productive because of the people around me—a good team.

My weakness: Working too much.

If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead, it would be: Probably Jesus. I would ask him, “What’s going to happen to our country?”

Our goals: We want it to be the

Favorite TV show: I love

best it can be. Our goals are to keep growing. We took an auxiliary of 600 members and grew to 950 members. We took the amount of money the auxiliary generates from $1.5 million to over $3 million a year. We are blessed to have a talented staff and board members.

watching Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory.”

My motto: Be yourself. What I want people to know: I care about the community, and I want what is best for the community.

Hobbies: I like to read and travel.



Michael A. Freedman, DO Board Certified, Otolaryngology

Dino Madonna, MD Board Certified, Facial Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology

Judith Milstead, MD

Board Certified, Otolaryngology

S. Dwight Vaught, MD Board Certified, Otolaryngology

Chronic Sinus Conditions | Allergies Pain | Pressure | Nasal Obstruction




Kara Funke Age 18 // A RT MA JO R AT M I S S I S S I PPI STAT E U N I V ER S I T Y My life since Leesburg High School: I am on the team here at Mississippi State. I have a scholarship to run cross country, the indoor track, and outdoor track teams. I am also currently taking three art classes so I can try to get into the graphic design program.

What I do for fun: I love to run, paint, surf, shoot my bow and arrow, and read books.

Favorite fast food: ChickFil-A sandwich.

What I miss from home: My family, friends, cats, and the ocean.

My passions: I have a V I TA L


passion for running and God. And I’m obsessed with dogs and the ocean.


Daughter of Marcelle and Todd Funke of Groveland.

Goals for the future: To make the Olympics. I also want to open a cafe one day, where I feature my own art.

2017 Leesburg High School graduate.

Pet peeve: People who don’t

Was a regional qualifier for girls’ track at LHS. Won the National Gold Key Award for sculpture from Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, where more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted in 2017.




cover their mouths when they sneeze. And stepping in a puddle of water while wearing socks.

If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead, it would be: Jenny Simpson because she is an inspiration to all runners, and she is my running idol; she is an Olympian, and she is a Floridian.

Personal philosophy: My personal philosophy for life is to always stay humble. I want to focus on making myself better, and never thinking that I am better.

My inspiration in life: Jesus Christ.

Favorite quote: “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”—former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

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New rules from the King of the World Let’s straighten out four issues: actors, grandmas, lovebugs and toilet lids. STORY: FRED HILTON

W *

elcome to 2018! Happy

One of the great dilemmas facing the human race is what one should do with the toilet lid after one is finished with the facility.

Fred Hilton Fred Hilton spent 36 years as the chief public relations off icer/spokesman for James Madison University in Virginia and 10 years prior as a reporter and editor for The Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia. He is now happily retired in The Villages with his interior designer wife, Leta, their Cadillac Escalade golf cart, and their dog, Paris. (Yes, that makes her Paris Hilton).




New Year! That makes good sense to those of you who are reading this article in January of the new year of 2018. However, if you’re reading this in your doctor’s office or your dentist’s office, “Happy New Year” sounds weird since it’s probably November 2018 or March 2019. So disregard the fact that you know who won the Super Bowl and act like it’s the first week of 2018. Traditionally, this is the time when people make New Year’s resolutions. We all know what a waste of time that is. New Year’s resolutions are usually admirable things like losing weight, quitting smoking, or exercising more. The resolutions generally last until the second or third football game on New Year’s Day. Instead of New Year’s resolutions,

let’s focus on some new rules that will make all our lives better and saner. We’d never get a full agreement on new rules for everyone, so we need a benevolent dictator—a King of the World—who will make these decisions. Thank you, I will be glad to accept this important position. We’ll start with only four edicts. We can follow up with more later but there are four major issues that need to be corrected immediately.

SHOW SOME RESPECT TO ACTORS. YES, THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE! How many times have you seen a commercial on TV when the voiceover announcer somberly informs us that “These are not actors. They are real people.” How do you think that makes the poor actors feel? Actors are real people with feelings. Show them some love.

Where are the actors’ unions during these times of grave insults to their members? Call the Screen Actors GuildAmerican Federation of Television and Radio Artists. SAGAFTRA represents 160,000 professionals in the news and entertainment businesses. A cynic might question whether there’s any difference between news and entertainment, but that kind of snide remark is below the dignity of the King of the World. In any event, we must show some love to the misunderstood actors of the world. Begrudgingly, we’ll also extend recognition as real people to the worst actors of them all: members of Congress.


media concentrated on exposing evil and investigating covert actions by politicians and other organized crime. But no more. All the media does today is pick on grandmothers. Check your local newspaper or watch TV news. Time and time again, you’ll see stories that highlight bad things about grandmothers: “Grandmother Flashes Rose Bowl Crowd,” “Grandmother Knocks Off a Liquor Store,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” You never, ever see the word “grandfather” in a headline. It’s just “Man Bites Chihuahua,” even if the old coot is 96 and has 38 grandchildren. This is a problem that started with the Mainstream Media. However, it has now spread to the Upstream Media, the Gulfstream

Media, and the Down by the Old Millstream Media. All the grandmothers, grandmas, grammies, grannies, and nanas of the world need to join forces and picket news media outlets everywhere. Memaws of the world, unite!

MAKE THE LOVEBUG THE OFFICIAL INSECT OF FLORIDA Those of you who are trivia nuts may know that Florida already has a state butterfly—the zebra longwing, or Heliconius charithonia as we say after a few beers. It is acceptable to have more than one state insect. (Bug-crazy Tennessee has four state insects.) The ideal choice for a Florida state insect would be the cuddly lovebug. Twice a year, the lovebug swoops in on Florida to smash against our windshields and fly into our noses and hair. During all that time, the lovebugs are happily hooked up and flying around making baby lovebugs. Lovebugs don’t have long on this earth, even if they are happy. So let’s add a little more joy

to their short lives by making them the state insect. Then squash their guts flat.

SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THAT TOILET LID? One of the great dilemmas facing the human race is what one should do with the toilet lid after one is finished with the facility. Most males wimp out and leave the lid down, yielding to pressure from their significant others. It is time to fight back. Those of us who stand in the facility deserve to have the lid left up occasionally. Sometimes we’re in a hurry. The King of the World has a simple solution, one that is fair to all concerned. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, everyone leaves the lid down. And on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, everyone leaves the lid up. What could be more fair? Obviously, that leaves us with a problem on Sundays. In the best tradition of King Solomon, the King of the World has a simple solution: On Sundays, we all use the back yard.

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6 A memory book Preserving family history for many generations. Plus

10 A curable cancer A simple test or an effective vaccine can beat cervical cancer.

12 Curious charms A man learns about his wife’s past after her death.





Born and raised in New York City. Graduated from Fordham University with a degree in marketing communications. Reached the rank of captain while serving in the Air Force from 1962-1967. Writes a monthly column for Village Style magazine.

The village voice Joe Angione speaks out and sings out. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ

What do you like about writing? I like the teaching aspect of journalism. I believe I have a mission to improve America’s understanding of government, society, the military, religion, and other aspects of life.

What’s your writing background? I have been interested in writing from my high school days. I won creative writing (short story) competitions

while in the Air Force stationed in West Germany. I spent 35 years publishing magazines for various businesses and professions, including food retailing, restaurant management, cable television, human resources management, and for a broad spectrum of medical practitioners. I now publish my own internet newsletter, The Conservative Way, that has received an overwhelming response from conservatives locally and across Florida.

What are your favorite activities in The Villages? I don’t have many, except for physical training (keeping fit), writing, singing and performing onstage. From 1998 until 2006, I produced and performed in a concert series called “Sentimental Journey” that filled the Savannah Center for more than 25 performances and raised thousands of dollars for charities. I still sing on Sundays at the Hacienda Hills Country Club’s afternoon karaoke performances.

What issues are on the minds of Villagers? Good government is one; financial resources



is another. So is finding enough to do to fill their retirement days. Of course, many play lots of golf. But for those who don’t play, it can be tough to find meaningful things to do. But most important is what Villagers think about their health. They probably think too much about the down side of getting old and the afflictions that they, their friends, and neighbors suffer.

Favorite food? A good homemade hamburger, an authentic New York-style pizza, a tender New York strip steak.

Favorite performer? Probably Tony Bennett. People say my singing voice is like his.

Favorite TV show? “Blue Bloods.” It’s far and away the best series on television. It displays all of the good, solid, faithbased family values that I grew up with. In my mind, Tom Selleck is the personification of what an NYPD commissioner—or any official of any city— should be. We’ve lost the qualities portrayed by Selleck in our community leaders, and the nation is the worse for it.

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You are your most precious gift The new year is an opportunity to give more of yourself. STORY: JOE ANGIONE



A precious gift isn’t from a wallet or a fancy store. A precious gift is one that comes from one’s self.


e’ve survived another Christmas season perhaps a bit heavier and a bit poorer after spending money on gifts for kids, grandkids, spouses, friends, and relatives. I used to think as my wife and I got older, we would spend less on holiday gifts. After all, our children are grown, and our grandchildren, too. That meant no more expensive toys or sports items that we’d get a hug for on Christmas morning and might be broken or lost not long after New Year’s Day. But today, these gifts are replaced by high-priced cellphones and other electronic “geegaws” that become obsolete so fast that what you bought last year must be replaced this year with something far more expensive. I never regarded any Christmas item we gave anyone as a “precious” gift. They were things that pleased and brought a “thank you” and a hug. Even something that was urgently needed—a winter coat, braces for a grandchild’s teeth, or a helping hand to pay college tuition—didn’t rate as “precious.” A precious gift isn’t from a wallet or a fancy store. A precious gift is one that comes from one’s self. As human beings,


we have an immense capacity to love and to show love. But as gift-givers, we give things far more often than we give love. Love is your most precious gift. Giving love is the greatest offering you make. It seems so clear, as the old song says: “Love, sweet love, that’s the only thing that there’s just so little of….” And that’s because we don’t truly give love. We give substitutes or symbols of it. The world needs love—we all need love—and we need it in its most usable, most valuable, and purest form: caring, time, and attention given to one another. Devoting time and attention to loved ones isn’t easy in a world that makes incessant demands on our lives. It’s usually much easier to bestow things than to sit together to talk, reminisce, and share hopes and dreams. But, in the final analysis, most, if not all of us, will remember most fondly the good times spent together, the wonderful things done together, not the material things. It’s the loving relationships long gone, not the objects, that nearly always comprise our fondest, precious memories. Try to make 2018 the year you give more of yourself, and your time, to your loved ones.

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The story of their lives A young writer preserves the family history of a Villager whose wife no longer can recall a lifetime of memories. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI




or writers, coming up with an ending often is the most difficult task for any story. Doug Tharp has lived a 60-year love story with his college sweetheart, Claudette, or “Mitch” as he calls her because of her maiden name, Mitchell. After moving in 2000 to The Villages, the couple enjoyed dining out, spending evenings at the town squares, and indulging their love of travel by taking daytrips around Central Florida. But their story comes with a cruel plot twist: Those memories now elude Mitch, who was diagnosed in 2013 with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and since fall 2016 has resided at a memory care assisted-living facility. Instead of accepting a bleak ending, however, Doug decided he wanted to complete his longtime goal of documenting the couple’s story in a family history book. Doug, who turns 83 in January, teamed up on the writing project with a seemingly unlikely partner: Olivia Savoie, a 23-year-old English and history graduate from Lafayette, Louisiana. Olivia was inspired by her grandmother to write the story of their family history, and now she puts the finishing touches on people’s lives and loves as a writer. Together, they produced “Mitch and Doug’s Life Travels” for the Tharps’ four children, eight grandchildren, and generations to come. Part travelogue and part memoir, the 80-page book includes numerous family photos, as well as the stories of Mitch and Doug’s life together. Of course, Doug had always hoped to include Mitch’s input before that became impossible. For Mitch, it’s day when it’s light and night when it’s dark, but she has little awareness of much else, Doug says. Still, he visits her every day and now he has one tool the caregivers do not have. Doug plans to read the family history to Mitch. It’s a page right out of “The Notebook,” the Nicholas Sparks book and later film in which a man writes and relates his love story to his wife, who has

Alzheimer’s. But Doug doesn’t expect any Hollywood-style miracles. “I don’t think she’ll understand what I’m saying,” he says. “My guess is that she’ll just sit there and stare at me and probably won’t comprehend what this is—even some of the pictures I don’t know that she’ll remember—but I’m going to try.” Doug will revisit the many places they traveled during his eight years in the Navy and long career as an engineer primarily in the missile defense and railway industries: Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Europe, California, Texas, Colorado, back home to their native Pennsylvania, and then retirement in The Villages. He will show Mitch the photos of their adopted children, daughters Catherine and Elizabeth, and sons Ben and Bruce. A fifth adopted child died young. “Because we’ve had such a varied background and been to so many places, a lot of them before the children were born, I thought it would be nice to document, because once you’re gone, that’s all gone,” Doug says. “And I thought it would be nice if it were in writing. I had always thought that I would do it. But I could not have imagined anything that I would do would turn out to be something like this [book]. She’s just done a marvelous job.” Olivia started her business, Raconteur Story Writing Services, in 2016 after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She built her business around her love of history and writing. She also writes love stories for wedding anniversaries and tribute books for families who have lost a loved one, but the memoirs are her favorite genre. “I saw my grandmother try for 20 years to write her life story and never really put the whole story together, and that’s what gave me the idea to do this,” Olivia says. “I sat down with her for four hours and within four weeks gave her a book that was published, and after I saw what it did for my family, I just love doing that for other people and their families.”

Doug plans to read the family history to Mitch. It’s a page right out of “The Notebook,” the Nicholas Sparks book and later film in which a man writes and relates his love story to his wife,





on a Hawaiian island in 1969, he had a role in the Apollo 11 moon landing by keeping the transmission frequencies clear. Later, he worked in Colorado at the Transportation Test Center, which tested highspeed trains. Mitch, who encouraged Doug to adopt, spent much of her time raising the children and later taught home economics. Before her illness, she was an excellent teacher, avid reader, politically astute, a lover of travel, and a giver who always wanted to help other people, Doug says. The couple came full circle by returning to Pennsylvania, where they both took jobs at PSU, Mitch running food kitchens and assisting at-risk children in outreach programs in the College of Agriculture, and Doug assisting small businesses with technology in the College of Engineering. After retiring to The Villages, Doug spent a couple of years as a boat captain cracking corny jokes on the Jungle Cruise in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and he has worked for many years in The Villages’ golf division. Doug and Mitch served as neighborhood representatives for The Villages Homeowners Association, and Doug rose to president. Mitch also worked in the Sumter County supervisor of elections office. The circumstances of life took the couple on an adventure that wasn’t planned, Doug says. “Our fondest memory was being together and being able to see some of the wonders of the world,” he says. “We’ve had a wonderful life.” Meeting recently at Doug’s Village of Polo Ridge home, Olivia brought him a bound edition of the finished manuscript. Mitch and Doug’s son Bruce designed the cover with passport stamps representing all the places the couple lived and visited. “It was so exciting to be able to bring you your book today,” Olivia says. “It’s so important to leave a family heirloom and to capture your story because, like [Doug] said, when you’re gone, you’re gone. You have to get your story out while you can, but not everyone is a writer and capable of doing that or at least not capable of doing that without a lot of years of heartache and years [spent] on it.” While Doug and Mitch’s story is not over, the family history book completes another chapter for Doug. “I’ve already gotten something out of it,” he says. “Just seeing a dream that I had come true is very gratifying to me.” And even though the memories have faded for Mitch, her life story with Doug doesn’t change. It’s written in Doug’s memory, and now it’s written on the page.

Photo: Fred Lopez

She and her husband, Joshua, moved in June 2017 to the Orlando area, unaware that a treasure trove of potential stories awaited her nearby in The Villages. Olivia had not heard of the 55-plus community but she wanted to move to Florida because of her affection for seniors, not usually a trait of the stereotypical millennial. “Ever since I was a little girl, I adored older people and I loved volunteering at retirement communities and I ran out of them in my town,” Olivia says. “So when my husband was looking for a job and wanted an adventure, I wanted Florida. I just wanted to be around older people and with what I do, that worked well, of course.” She put an ad in a local paper, and Doug saw it—one in search of a story, the other searching for someone to finish his story. Olivia spent two three-hour sessions with Doug, using a 150-question list as a guideline and typing every word as he spoke. She spent another couple of hours organizing photos and numerous hours writing, completing the project in about two months. She writes in first person from the point of view of the storyteller. “When I saw the first draft,” Doug says, “I got the distinct feeling when I was reading it that I was talking. She had a knack to put me right in the middle of this. I think when my kids read this, this is going to be Dad talking.” “The whole point is, 100 years from now, you want your great-great-grandchildren to know this is how he told it and this is his story and this is him talking,” Olivia adds. “It’s personal, getting in his head and writing.” The couple’s journey began in Pennsylvania when Doug, from Shamokin, and Mitch, from Verona, met at Penn State University and became sweethearts. Doug joined the Navy, and they married in 1957 while he was in training in Pensacola to pilot helicopters. His naval stops included San Diego in an antisubmarine warfare squadron, and Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, where he tested missile defense systems that were forerunners for the Patriot missile used years later in Iraq. After leaving Kwajalein and the Navy in the mid1960s, the couple took a two-month pleasure trip to Europe, sailed on cruises and visited the Panama Canal, and traveled to national parks in the western United States. Doug went on to work for companies that developed missile defense systems—some projects were “very, very top secret,” he says—and as a NASA contractor






Things you should know about cervical cancer Cervical cancer, which most often is caused by a sexually transmitted virus, is very curable when treated early. STORY: LEIGH NEELY

The best way to screen for cervical cancer is a Pap test. It can be done quickly and painlessly in your doctor’s office during a routine physical.



here has been a lot of information in the news, in public service ads, and most likely from your doctor about the importance of being aware of cervical cancer. In fact, January is Cervical Cancer Month and is set aside to create more awareness of the disease. The truth is, cervical cancer is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent with regular testing and a vaccine and to cure. The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus and that’s why it’s so easy for the human papillomavirus (HPV) to be passed between sexual partners. According to Beth Jernigan, cancer center administrator for Central Florida Health Alliance, the American Cancer Society has recommendations regarding the vaccine for HPV. Beth has a master’s of science degree in nursing and is a registered nurse,


an oncology certified nurse, and a certified tumor registrar. “Routine HPV vaccinations for girls and boys should be started at age 11 or 12,” Beth says, “though it can be started as early as age 9.” The vaccinations also are recommended for females 13 to 26 years old and for males 13 to 21 years old who have not started the vaccines or who started but did not complete the series. Males 22 to 26 years old also may get vaccinated. It is important to know for those 22 to 26 years old, however, that vaccination is less effective in lowering cancer risk at older ages. HPV vaccinations also are recommended through age 26 for men who have male partners or for people with weakened immune systems or HIV infection if they have not previously been vaccinated.

Cer v gyn ical ca ecol nce wit h re ogical r is the c vac cine gular t ancer easies and estin to pr t g e to c ure and a vent .

Here are seven things you should know to avoid and treat cervical cancer: 1

Around 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer every year. This occurs most often in women 30 years old or older. However, all women are at risk.

suggest more tests. If you are between 30 and 65, you also should get the HPV test to determine if the virus is present. The HPV test is not recommended for women under 30.


Like other cancers, several factors put women 5 at risk to get cervical cancer. HPV is a virus that is easily passed from person to person through sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral sex). It causes an infection that, if left untreated, can lead to cervical cancer. Other risks if you have HPV include smoking, taking birth control pills for longer than five years, or giving birth to three or more children. However, a vaccine is available for those ages 11 to 26 that aids in preventing cancer. It is licensed, safe, and effective.


Symptoms of cervical cancer usually do not appear until the disease is in advanced stages. These include bleeding or discharge from the vagina. Of course, these are also symptoms of many other problems, but should always be checked by your doctor.

How often should you get a Pap test? Between ages 21 and 29, every three years; between ages 30 and 64, get a Pap test and HPV test together every five years, or a Pap test alone every three years; after age 65, ask your doctor if you still need a Pap test. If you have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix, no Pap tests are needed. If you had a hysterectomy because of an abnormal Pap test, do not stop getting tests until you have received three normal results. Though it’s not common, if you have a hysterectomy and keep your cervix, have regular Pap tests until age 65.


The best way to screen for cervical cancer is a Pap test. It can be done quickly and painlessly in your doctor’s office during a routine physical. Screening should begin at age 21. If the Pap test reveals changes in your cervix, the doctor may


To protect yourself from HPV, always use a condom when having sexual intercourse. The best way to prevent catching HPV is to be monogamous or abstain.


For more information, see cancer/cervical-cancer, which also provides other resources. You also can get information from the American Cancer Society at cervical-cancer.




‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper’


How we remember things is a significant element of the book.


By Phaedra Patrick. A poignant tale of true love. STORY: DIANE DEAN


ow many of you have a charm bracelet? Is it a reflection of your interests and activities in your youth? Those questions initiated the discussion facilitated by Ann Schooley at the Bookworm Book Club in The Villages. “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper,” by Phaedra Patrick, uses a charm bracelet to take readers on a journey. A year after the death of his wife, Miriam, Arthur continues his rigid routine of rising at the same time each day, wearing the same outfit, and watering his plant named Frederica. Even the interruptions by his friendly neighbor Bernadette bringing casseroles are unwanted and often ignored. When Arthur discovers Miriam’s charm bracelet, he sets off on a journey to discover Miriam’s life before they met, one he had absolutely no idea existed. During her youth, she traveled to India, France, and London. Travel itself is foreign to Arthur until he follows the chain of experiences and adventures of the characters that peppered Miriam’s life. He meets tiger lover Lord Graystock; a caring homeless man; and a French wedding boutique owner, Sylvie, who shockingly labels Miriam a murderess. There’s also a novelist Francois, a possible lover; illegal immigrant Sebastian; and an Indian doctor. The more Arthur encounters these unique men and women from Miriam’s youth, the more he reconnects with his children, his neighbors, and friends and opens himself to new clothing and adventures. Miriam’s love of art creates a situation where Arthur poses nude for an art class, which is totally out of character for him. How we remember things is a significant element of the book. Arthur does not see himself as a very good husband or father. However, he begins to see himself in a more positive light as the book progresses. He ventures beyond his patterns of sameness and steps out of his comfort zone.


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The question of why Miriam never revealed her colorful past to him was answered by book club readers with the thought that she wanted to let him be who he was, or possibly to protect him from feeling inadequate. Miriam’s change of lifestyle showed her love for him. Many other forms of love, including sibling, friend to friend, neighborly, and parent to child, emerge in the book. Change and growth occur throughout our lives. Arthur’s journey, following the charms on the bracelet, ignites his journey of development at age 69. At a time when many people are settling in,

he is welcoming new adventures. He also recognizes some of his strengths as a comforter, a guider, and a supporter for others. The author paints effective pictures of scenes, places, and characters as the story keeps the reader moving along, eager to discover the significance of the next charm. The book club found it an enjoyable read and an interesting discussion. I wonder how many of its readers pulled out their own charm bracelet and took a trip down the memory lane of their lives?

1 The Rooster




3 The People



About the author

5 The Midnight

This is Phaedra Patrick’s first novel, released in 2016. It is optioned to Hollywood for a movie. Her second novel, “Rise and Shine Benedict Stone,” came out last year. She prefers to write about “characters undergoing transformation.” Then she introduces obstacles on the journey to make it more interesting. Her website under her name has a list of writing tips for authors and information about her books. Her Facebook page features a video of her in her British home.

A delightful story of a lonely man who discovers a charm bracelet belonging to his deceased wife, Miriam. This sets him on a journey leaving his regimented life to spread his wings and discover the secrets of Miriam’s former life. If you like charm bracelets and the stories behind each charm, this is the book for you. —Gail Feind, Pennecamp


6 Artemis BY ANDY WEIR

7 Year One

Member comments: After despondent widower Arthur Pepper discovers a charm bracelet belonging to his late wife, he not only discovers the surprising life his wife led before marrying him, he also learns a great deal about himself. A delightful, charming coming-of-age story. —Shari Greifner, Bonnybrook



The clever deconstruction of the novel by the facilitator, Ann Schooley, resulted in an outstanding conversation that was truly enjoyable. I wonder what would be on my or even my husband’s charm bracelet? —Marilyn Fleming, Sanibel If you like touching love stories replete with a few quirky characters and some very interesting albeit unlikely scenarios, then you will devour this novel. You will delight in the laugh-out-loud portions of the novel and find yourself shedding a tear or two for Arthur at other times. This is a charming debut novel, and I eagerly look forward to more from this talented British author. —Kathy Porter, Rio Ponderosa

8 Tom Clancy

Power and Empire


9 Uncommon

Type: Some Stories BY TOM HANKS

10 Two Kinds


of Truth



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Growth continues in Lake and Sumter counties Both counties are thriving as new residents and businesses arrive daily. STORY: LEIGH NEELY


rowth in Lake and Sumter counties has been steady and prolific. Many empty buildings are being filled with new shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. All of this is carefully monitored by city and county governments to ensure the beauty of Real Florida remains the prominent feature.


Chainsaw carving by Chad Gainey, Photo: Betsy Reed


Construction work on a new public safety complex at the intersection of West Caroline Street and Lake Shore Boulevard is expected soon, according to City Administrator John Drury. The complex will house the city’s police, fire, and emergency management facilities. The architectural design was financed with a state of Florida grant. After the damage incurred by Hurricane Irma, the seaplane base and marina in Tavares is being rebuilt. There was extensive damage to the docks and fuel systems and several boats sank, but salvage is completed. The Ruby Street Entertainment District, including the Ruby Red Brick Promenade, will be finished this year. Next on the list of future projects is a site for a new performing arts building.

The Community Redevelopment Agency recently added art to Cadwell and Larkin parks, according to Karen Howard, CRA coordinator. Rot and bad limbs on trees in the parks were cut away, and chainsaw artists created animal scenes with the remains of the trees. More money is budgeted for additional carvings to continue them for years to come. The city is working with the Umatilla High School Digital Design Team to create URL codes for the carvings so people viewing the trees can find information about the artists at The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is resurfacing State Road 19 through Umatilla and adding bike lanes. Umatilla Municipal Airport’s 13 hangars are occupied and have a waiting list. Construction began for three additional hangars and restroom facilities. Sites for future construction are being funded by FDOT. There also is an FDOT initiative to purchase two hangars at the southwest end of the airport on private property.

MOUNT DORA From the office of city manager of Mount Dora comes news about the Wekiva Parkway (State Road 429) project, which will connect the parkway to State Road 417 to complete the beltway around Orlando. While protecting natural resources is imperative, the project includes widening seven miles of State Road 46 in Lake and Seminole counties; rebuilding the U.S. Highway 441/State Road 46 interchange in Mount Dora; shifting the County Road 46A connection to State Road 46 to allow wildlife to move safely between habitats;

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providing non-tolled, one-lane service roads that parallel the parkway; and adding a multi-use trail along portions of the parkway in both counties. In Mount Dora, the new exit ramp is near the Wolf Branch Innovation District, pleasing city government. The certification is ongoing, and indications are Mount Dora is ahead of schedule with development and marketing. According to commission meeting notes, Leslie Campione, vice chairman of Lake County commissioners, proposed a plan to ask FDOT to pay for improvements to help Mount Plymouth better prepare for the traffic resulting from this change. The remaining commissioners are on board with this project, and once the plan is prepared, it will be among the county’s priorities for the Florida Legislative session beginning this month.


LEESBURG CRUISING THE MALL ViaPort Florida Mall has been purchased by Village Lake Promenade, according to Mark Stephensen, marketing director. The Pompano Beach company specializes in renovating and revitalizing retail properties. The mall will resume its familiar name of Lake Square Mall as a new façade is built and inside renovations begin. Meir Benzaken is owner of the company and has reported there will be at least five new tenants, and plans are in the works to add seven standalone stores to the property.

Public Information Officer Derek Hudson reports that Leesburg has numerous projects in process:

U.S. HIGHWAY 27/441 GATEWAY This project includes landscaping improvements and a gateway feature at the intersection. The FDOT awarded a $250,000 grant to help fund the project, and the approved budget for the city is $689,500. Construction should be complete in late spring.

The central downtown business district as well as residential neighborhoods to the north and east are scheduled for redevelopment, according to the city’s 2016 Redevelopment Plan. This will incorporate a 1.5-square-mile area, which also includes many vacant properties available for mixeduse development.

DIXIE AVENUE Work began in August on the FDOT Dixie Avenue Complete Streets project, which runs from U.S. Highway 27 to Main Street. Improving access to the road for all drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists is the primary goal of the project. It will include enhancements such as a concrete median to separate opposing traffic, road resurfacing, and improvements to sidewalks and landscaping. The total cost is approximately $4 million, and construction should be complete in late summer.




A NEW RESOURCE CENTER Last summer, construction began for the Leesburg Resource Center, which will soon be completed. The multi-purpose facility has meeting rooms, computer-training space, a kitchen, resource offices, and a central meeting hall. It is intended to be a family-friendly place offering services and enhancing education and employability skills for residents. This project was done through partnerships among nonprofit organizations, government agencies, churches, and civic groups.

LEESBURG COMMUNITY BUILDING For Phase III of the Venetian Gardens Master Plan, the final design for a new one-story community building has been approved. The 27,000-square-foot building includes a lobby, meeting rooms, a grand ballroom (seating 485), and an outdoor porch. Design completion is expected by this winter. This also makes way for restaurants and a marina upgrade. The estimated budget is $5.69 million.

SKI BEACH ENHANCEMENTS In addition to a new pedestrian bridge connecting Rogers Park to the other islands, Phase II of the Venetian Gardens Master Plan includes a paved road, parking, boat ramp, boat dock, truck and trailer parking, public restrooms, sidewalk decorative fencing along Lakeshore Drive, decorative lighting, landscaping improvements, and a pair of padready restaurant building sites.

THE VILLAGES AND LEESBURG Leesburg is in the process of clearing the way for The Villages to acquire 1,685 acres in a sale that should close in early spring. This sale should bring a significant tax-base increase, more jobs, and “Villages-style development.”

LEESBURG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT The airport is becoming multimodal with the addition of a seaplane ramp to allow access to the airport from Lake Harris. This creates more business opportunities for airport tenants that provide services to amphibious aircraft. Completion is scheduled for early to mid-spring.

WILDWOOD Construction is progressing on HarborChase of Wildwood, a beautiful assisted-living community which is expected to open this spring, according to its website. The assisted-living and memory-care community at 7046 Powell Road will feature spacious courtyards and porches, a rooftop terrace, living rooms with hearths, and beautiful countryside views. There also will be a full-service salon, bistro, cocktail lounge, and chef-prepared cuisine. The largest credit union in northeast Florida, VyStar, is the latest addition to the mixed-use development Trailwinds Village on County Road 466A. Anchored by home improvement giant Lowe’s, the site will include an Aldi, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, and Circle K gas station. There’s space for two more anchor stores, and plans for the west end of the property include 10 small office buildings and a three-story storage building. The east side will include medical pads or parcels, according to the website of the Barclay Group, which is working with property owner Tommy Word of Word Family LLC in Gainesville.

CLERMONT The first phase of Clermont’s master plan will be finalized with Victory Pointe Park opening in the spring, says Tracy Jacim, director of communications. This also includes Downtown Waterfront District projects. In addition, a number of new businesses will be opening in the area. Lucky’s Market opens in March, making Clermont the only city in Lake County with a national credit tenant organic store. Homegoods, AtHome, First Watch, Growler USA, Home 2Suites, and Vista Radiology also will open this year. The ribbon cutting for the South Lake Hospital campus expansion will be held this summer, and Lake-Sumter Collegiate Health Science Academy graduates its first class.

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Frost’s foresight

Definition of visionary: a person having or showing clear ideas about what should happen or be done in the future. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ


ome of Leesburg’s city leaders and business entrepreneurs tout Tom Frost as an enterprising, imaginative, innovative visionary with great ideas for downtown Leesburg. Tom is not just talking the talk. He purchased and renovated the building at 214 W. Main St., site of the stylish Renew Day Spa, and he bought other properties with the goal of bringing more businesses and luxury-finished apartments downtown. “Leesburg has more upside potential,” says the developer who has been behind several successful ventures, including Sarasotabased Datum Technologies, an IT services company that manages both restaurant and corporatelevel technology throughout the United States. Tom relocated from Sarasota to build a Lake County home for his growing family. He sees Leesburg’s close proximity to The Villages and other sites as a prime feature. “Leesburg is the epicenter,” he says. “When you draw the lines, you realize where else could I be that you’re this close?” From a geographic perspective, he notes Leesburg is near Florida’s Turnpike and close to Interstate 75, which makes it ideal to travel to Orlando and the major theme parks in a short time, along with being just an hour away from Daytona and other beaches, and a reasonable drive to Tampa and Jacksonville. He’s eager to be part of revitalizing more of Leesburg’s downtown, and he says the work will be done 50,000 square feet at a time in the downtown




corridor of Main Street from U.S. Highway 27 to Beacon College, and also Magnolia Street. Future work for pedestrians and cyclists would be done in the corridor east to Venetian Gardens. “We have acquired 201 West Main and 205 West Main, and in those two buildings we are going to be building a coffeehouse and a full-service restaurant,” Tom says. “Our goal is to bring an edge into everything but at the same time be historically significant.” One idea coming to fruition is the Evander Lee restaurant, named for the founder of Leesburg. “And what we want to do with the menu is identify the menu items from yesteryear,” he says, mentioning meatloaf and fried chicken as possibilities. “We are going to try to do our research to find old recipes and try to resurrect those items.” He also believes it’s vital to have businesses in place with a health perspective, including a yoga or fitness studio. Part of the overall plan with the Renew Day Spa building is to renovate the second-story space, which he believes is one of several “under-utilized” sites that could be potential housing opportunities for people who want to live downtown. “There is a great revitalization everywhere throughout the country to add luxury-finished apartments above these retail locations,” Tom says. “By bringing people downtown to live, then we can really enhance the retailers’ ability to make money, stay in business, and stay open more hours. Traffic begets traffic and that is a good thing for retail.”


He believes affordable luxury apartments with hardwood flooring, nice finishes, fixtures, and amenities are needed. “We are underway with those projects,” he says. More apartments are in demand among downtown workers and Beacon College staff members, he says, adding he’s also had regular coffee conversations with city officials Al Minner, Mike Rankin, and Bob Bone about Leesburg’s downtown. “A lot of times, people are antigrowth or anti-revitalization for some reason or another, and it seems that everyone is the same mindset,” Tom

says of local leaders. “We have had a really warm reception from the city government. They like our vision, and we are willing to adapt our vision to fit what people in the city feel is best.” Mike, Leesburg’s economic director, welcomes the excitement Tom brings to the city along with Property Manager Bruce Kirkland. “It’s refreshing to see an entrepreneur come in and see some real value in a community, and his organization has stepped up and invested in some buildings,” Mike says. “It is real encouraging when you see somebody new to the area coming in and investing in the area and they are incorporating the bones

in the community into what they want to accomplish, so it builds a level of excitement throughout some of the commercial brokers and the property owners that they see new monies coming in for commercial development. It’s a good, contagious thing.” Mike believes downtown Leesburg will be vibrant again. “The romance of living downtown, shopping downtown, entertaining downtown is going to become a reality again in Leesburg,” Mike says. “There’s a really good synergy in all aspects to see monies, investments, equity in ideas being put back into the downtown area. It’s really exciting.”

“Our goal is to bring an edge into everything but at the same time be historically significant.” —TOM FROST

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Good eats

Plans for new restaurants always are on the table. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ


he American pygmy shrew, the blue whale, the hummingbird, the giant weta insect, and the star-nosed mole are considered to be the most ravenous eaters on the planet. Villagers aren’t far behind. They love to eat and aren’t afraid to admit it. As The Villages continues to grow, the population grows and the appetites grow, so more and more restaurants are needed. New to the scene are Cody’s Original Roadhouse at Mulberry Grove Plaza on County Road 42 in the north end of The Villages, and Habanero’s Mexican Grill in Southern Trace Plaza off County Road 466. Both restaurants were announced in May 2017 by the developer and have been on the drawing board for some time. Both sites also were busy with activity late in 2017 in preparation for their openings. Habanero’s has a prime corner location at the plaza that totals 5,000 square feet and includes 250 seats inside, 40 patio seats outside, and a full liquor bar. Designer and contractor Rick Flohr expects Habanero’s to be a new “hot spot” for Villagers because he’s seen steady business next door at Beef O’Brady’s restaurant. “They pack it at lunchtime and the bar’s always full, so you know there’s a need for a bar here,” Rick says. “People like to have good food and have a beer.” Villagers also can look forward to the upcoming opening of Bowlbar, off County Road 466 at Buffalo Ridge Plaza. Serving grains, greens, noodles, and soups, Bowlbar has an “Eat Great, Be Great” philosophy, according to its website. Diners can expect wholesome, nutritious food not typically found at quick-




service restaurants—such as roasted vegetables, Vietnamese rice noodle salad, Korean beef BBQ, and Mexican street corn—and all the menu items, including homemade cookies and brownies, are 100 percent gluten-free. Nearby at Buffalo Ridge Plaza, the new Metro Diner appears to be thriving in the former Perkins Restaurant location it took over last year. At Pinellas Plaza, on the south side of County Road 466A, curious passersby have noticed the new fare in the location of the former Evergreen Buffet. China Star and Fujiyama Express, which have the same owners, opened side-by-side within weeks of each other last fall. They offer Chinese and Japanese takeout food for customers on the go. The Villages never stops evolving, and numerous other restaurants opened their doors in the past year. The most notable was Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar at Lake Sumter Landing, part of the TV celebrity chef’s stable of namesake eateries. Guy appears on the Food Network as host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and other shows. The restaurant opened in August and has been serving its own style of standout American fare ever since: Trash Can nachos, Buffalo wings, Big Bite burgers, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, ribs, steaks, and more. While The Villages continues to define urban sprawl, Tavares continually upgrades its small but blossoming downtown area. Two new restaurants are on the horizon. BTW, which stands for burgers, tacos, and waffles, hopes to fill a late-night craving void. The owners are steadily remodeling their

building, a former A&P Super Market at 115 E. Main St., which is within steps of their other venture, Brü Tap House. Just east of downtown at 1080 E. Alfred St., a “Coming Soon” sign announces Havana 1959, which will serve authentic Cuban cuisine. Lovers of Italian food have discovered two new spots in Leesburg. Rodello’s Italian Restaurant, serving dishes such as lobster ravioli and salmon saltimbocca, opened in the fall at 26736 U.S. Highway 27. Johnson’s Pizza Pi, dishing out tasty and flavorful pizza and grinders, opened at 4120 Corley Island Road in a small business center off U.S. 27. In Mount Dora, the owners of Las Palmas restaurant announced plans to renovate a building on Lake Dora and open a restaurant called Boathouse on Lake Dora sometime in 2018. The city of Clermont has seen a flurry of restaurant activity over the past year, and much more is on the way in 2018. The 790 West project is a major downtown redevelopment of a block of Minneola Avenue. The street will get three new businesses, Suncreek Brewery, Savoree Handcrafted Salads & Sandwiches, and Michael’s Ali Coal Fired Pizza, along the soonto-be constructed Clermont Legacy Loop Trail that will take users of the South Lake Trail into downtown, the project’s Facebook page states. A build-your-own-burger franchise, Burgerim, plans to open in the 2500 block of U.S. Highway 27. The restaurant will offer takeout and delivery service for a menu that has a variety of buns, toppings, and sauces for the burgers, its website states.




Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar at Lake Sumter Landing, part of the TV celebrity chef’s stable of namesake eateries. GUY FIERI’S AMERICAN KITCHEN + BAR

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The wide world of sports in Lake County New plans in works for volleyball, golf, fishing, and disc golf. STORY: JAMES COMBS


e already know Lake County draws high-caliber triathlon events and is home to the National Training Center, one of the most state-of-the-art facilities of its kind in the country. However, plenty of other exciting things are happening on the local sports scene.

VOLLEYBALL IS SPIKING UPWARD Featuring 21 professional courts, the $400,000 sand volleyball complex at Hickory Point Park in Tavares is the largest in Florida and the third-largest in the United States. It has hosted prestigious tournaments such as the Florida USA Volleyball Beach Series, the first Florida high school beach volleyball state championships, and the ROX VB Series National Championships. Now, the facility will receive an upgrade. The 4,000-square foot Hickory Point Beach Fieldhouse will be built adjacent to the sand volleyball courts and is expected to open in spring 2018. It will feature locker rooms with showers, restrooms, meeting rooms, a training room, and a concessions area. “It’s very exciting to have a state-of-the-art complex right here in our backyard that draws both high-caliber beach volleyball tournaments and world-class volleyball players,” says Steve Bishop, executive director of the Florida Region of USA Volleyball.




BONUS SHOT Mission Inn Resort & Club will serve as one of four qualifying sites for the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s international development tour. The tournament at El Campeón golf course will be held Jan. 9-12. Officials expect that each qualifying tournament will have 120 players vying for PGA Tour Latinoamerica membership, according to a press release. The organization will award membership to the top 35 finishers and those tied for 35th. The other qualifying sites are Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort in Mexico, Club Los Lagartos in Colombia, and Pilara Golf Club in Argentina.


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SWING INTO ACTION Christmas came early for residents of The Villages as two nine-hole golf courses—Gray Fox and Red Fox—opened in October at the Village of Fenney. Gray Fox, a par-28 course situated in the Fenney Springs wetlands, sprawls across three islands, providing golfers with moderately challenging shots, as well as a scenic trek through nature. Red Fox, a par-28 course featuring a two-loop course design, offers various water features. Source:

GIVING DISC GOLF A WHIRL In 2017, city leaders from Leesburg, Eustis, and Mount Dora approved new disc golf courses. This means the Lake County Economic Development and Tourism Department is closer than ever to creating the Lake County Disc Golf Trail, a series of six, 18-hole, championship-caliber courses built in city and county parks. The golf trail means Lake can host prestigious tournaments and world championships while becoming one of the sport’s premier destinations. “If we could get the world championships here, that would mean 10,000 hotel rooms right away,” says Joe Runnels, who serves as tournament director of the Lake County Disc Golf Club. The game is similar to golf, except participants attempt to get a disc into the hole—the hole is a metal basket on a five-foot pole—in as few throws as possible. The sweet sound of plastic disc on metal chain means participants completed a hole and can move to the next one. Unlike golf, there are no balls or clubs. Instead, aerodynamic discs of varying weights serve as putters, midranges, and drivers. And the biggest obstacles are not bunkers and sand traps but rather trees and bushes.

HOOKED ON FISHING? Lake County continues reeling in some big fishing tournaments. Here’s a small sampling of tourneys coming to the area in the next few months:

FEB. 3: Harris Chain of Lakes: Bass Pro Big Bass Tour FEB. 22-25: Harris Chain of Lakes: Fishing League Worldwide Tour MARCH 24: Harris Chain of Lakes: Bassin Buddies Invite MAY 12: Clermont Chain of Lakes: Bassin Buddies Invite





GO PARK IT The 141-acre South Lake Regional Park, which will be built off State Road 50 between Clermont and Groveland, will likely enter the construction phase in 2018. The park will include running trails, bicycle trails, hiking trails, eight softball fields, four baseball fields, and a dog park. “This will be a destination,” County Commissioner Sean Parks says. “Also, the cost is minimal because nobody is buying land. We’re simply using what we already have.”

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Jaw-snapping fun in Wildwood

Few things symbolize Florida as much as alligators, and visitors to GatorWorld in Wildwood have an opportunity to see these fascinating creatures up close. STORY: JAMES COMBS // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ


tanding on an elevated wooden platform, 15-yearold Mattigan Peddigree of Pennsylvania uses a bamboo cane pole to lower a turkey hot dog into the murky water below. As the snouts of adolescent alligators emerge to the surface, their black slit pupils fixate on the snack. Within seconds, one of them leaps from the water, slams its powerful jaws shut, and consumes the food. The teenager is awestruck. She smiles as her grandmother furiously clicks her camera to capture this rare


interaction between human and alligator. Every day is feeding day at GatorWorld Parks of Florida, a 15-acre preserve and drivethrough park in Wildwood with more than 400 rescued alligators. For visitors like Mattigan, it’s an opportunity to receive an up-close and personal look at the state’s most popular reptile. “Feeding an alligator by using a cane pole helped me realize how strong these animals are even as babies,” Mattigan says. “I’ve never seen an alligator before, and I cannot wait to go back and tell all my friends about this. These are really fascinating animals.” Indeed, alligators carry a certain mystique. They’ve been around 200 million years and are as much a part of Florida as oranges, palm trees, and hurricanes. In fact, they are central to the state’s identity. There’s a toll road named Alligator Alley. Hundreds of businesses have “Gator” in their names. The state’s flagship university uses the alligator as its mascot. With that kind of publicity, it’s no surprise alligators evolved into something more than expensive handbags. They became popular tourist attractions. After all, visitors to the Sunshine State want to be amused and awed, and coming within close proximity to one of

nature’s fiercest animals fulfills that desire. The animal’s popularity was the driving force behind local businessman Don Buckner’s decision to open GatorWorld Parks in October. “For me, the idea was born in 2000 when members of the Orlando Tourism Commission informed me that the top three items on Florida tourists’ to-do list were visiting Disney World, going to the beach, and seeing an alligator,” says Don, owner of Okahumpka-based Vac-Tron Equipment, the country’s largest producer of industrial vacuum equipment. “I also went to the welcome center on the FloridaGeorgia line, and employees told me the most common question they receive is, ‘What’s the best way to see an alligator?’” After 17 years of careful planning, Don feels he came up with the perfect answer to that question. The simple drive-through concept at GatorWorld allows visitors, in the comfort of their car, to drive down a gravel road shaded by oak trees and past four double-fenced compounds where alligators of all sizes reside. Some gators are seen cooling off in specially constructed pools that simulate their natural environment, while others bask in the sun to control their body temperatures. Motorists are allowed to stop

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and photograph the animals but must remain inside their vehicle. Following the driving tour, visitors can stand atop a raised platform and dangle a pole over a swirling collection of hungry young alligators and enjoy the excitement of petting and holding an adolescent alligator. If they prefer interacting with more cuddly animals, there’s a petting zoo stocked with bunnies, Nubian goats, and miniature cattle. And no trip to GatorWorld is complete without a picture alongside Al, the park’s 13foot mounted alligator estimated to be 80 years old at the time of his death. For the record, the largest alligator ever caught was 15 feet, 9 inches long. All these activities can be enjoyed in less than half a day. “Location, time, and cost—those are three hurdles we eliminated by opening this park,” says Don, who




in 2000 was awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in Florida. “We don’t have alligator shows or anything like that. We provide a quick, simple, and economical way to see an alligator. We are more like the old roadside attractions you used to see up and down Florida’s highways.” Those Florida-centric roadside attractions, known for their boldcolored signs, attempted to lure motorists off the road with venomous snakes, colorful macaws, and dazzling mermaids. Many began disappearing in the 1970s when theme parks replaced the wonders of nature with white-knuckle thrill rides. However, alligators continued drawing big crowds, as evidenced by the 400,000 annual visitors to Orlando’s Gatorland. Seeing an alligator was definitely on the bucket list of Colleen Hoang, a New Jersey resident who visited GatorWorld in early November. For her, the highlight was watching her

7-year-old son, Cameron Hoang, pet an adolescent alligator named Abbie. With its mouth taped shut, Abbie remained perfectly still while nestled comfortably in the arms of a park employee. Cameron, a little apprehensive at first, used his index finger to poke the baby alligator. After a few minutes, he worked up the courage to gently pet the animal using his entire hand before posing for a photograph with Abbie in his arms. “There are few places you can actually go to hold an alligator,” Colleen says. “If you tried it out in the wild, you’d get hurt. I think it’s great that they have such a controlled environment, and the best thing is you’re guaranteed to see an alligator when you come here.” Savannah Mosher, a resident of upstate New York, came to the park with a bad case of gator fever. Watching documentaries intrigued her, but she never had an opportunity to see one in the wild or in captivity. After completing the driving tour, she was mesmerized by the reptile’s sheer size. Some alligators in the park weigh more than 500 pounds.

ator. g i l l na a nd e a e s p u o ay t d to see w l a mic you use o n o d ec actions ER, OWNER n a , e BUCKN ttr pl a —DON m e i ” . s d dsi ays ck, i a w u o h r q g i ide a e the old rida’s h v o r p k o “We e more li down Fl r We a

“I’ve seen alligators on television, but seeing them up close like that gives you an entirely different perspective on how massive these animals truly are,” she says. “Being around alligators is something new for me. The only animals I see in upstate New York are chickens, cows, and sheep.” The reptiles leave park employees equally curious and awed. Just ask Mariam Flack, an 18-year-old homeschooled senior from Howey-inthe-Hills who opted against bagging groceries and serving fast food in favor of working alongside alligators. “This is the first job I’ve ever had,” she says excitedly. “I love being around alligators because they’re so powerful and mysterious. However, it can be unnerving when I have to grab a baby alligator out of the pen for petting because their mouths are not taped.” The other exciting aspect about her job is answering questions and providing visitors with fun-filled facts. Did you know, for instance, that an alligator can run 30 mph for 20 yards? Some more useful information: electrical tape can keep a large alli-

gator’s mouth shut because its upper jaw muscles are considerably weaker than the muscles used to snap the jaw shut. Just don’t try this at home. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Here’s another interesting fact: All alligators at GatorWorld were purchased from alligator farms, where they are sold for their hides and meat, or from trappers, who euthanize alligators when they are deemed nuisances. Don isn’t merely introducing these animals to the public; he’s also giving them a second chance at life. The animals receive a daily feeding of food pellets, which look similar to dog food and are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. “We rescue them from euthanasia,” Don says. “That’s why we call ourselves a sanctuary or preserve. Alligators are a big part of Florida’s heritage, and even though they’re not on the endangered list, we feel good about saving a part of Florida’s heritage by saving these animals. They receive good care here. It’s by God’s grace that I’m able to do this.” Knowing these animals are not being euthanized is reassuring for

alligator enthusiasts such as Dennis Spafford of Inverness. “GatorWorld is a great asset because the species is being protected and nobody harms them here,” says Dennis, who took his grandchildren from New Jersey to the park. “I think it’s important to protect alligators and let people enjoy the beauty of these magnificent animals because I don’t know what the future holds for them.” This much he does know: The allure of Florida’s screaming theme parks and five-star beachside hotels has not dampened man’s curiosity and intrigue over the alligator, one of the few remaining links to the age of the dinosaur.

352.462.9500 492 W. Highway 44, Wildwood Check website for current hours of operation

January 2018


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Livin’ in the future

It’s 2018 and the only thing that has changed in technology is almost everything! STORY: LEIGH NEELY


id you know during one day in September last year Apple introduced six new gadgets? The following week, Google introduced four new gadgets. Have you noticed how many local churches, businesses, festivals, events, magazines, newspapers, golf courses, and everything else have their own app? You even can report litter violations with the Report Litter app.

VIRTUAL REALITY IN LAKE COUNTY Despite the surge of nostalgia, technology continues to change every day. Mind Immersions is a new company in Clermont where kids and adults can discover virtual reality experiences. According to the website, it’s the first virtual reality entertainment center of its kind. It has a two-player arena and a real-motion virtual reality chair. Scheduled to open this month, it’s at 2410 E. Highway 50.




New developments are happening daily. Research is ongoing for electronic skin, smart gloves, glucose sweat sensors, wearable stethoscopes, asthma monitoring patches, smart bandages, smart clothing, and electrocardiogram monitoring, according to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, “Future Wearables in Healthcare: R&D Portfolio Areas and Technology Road Mapping.”


In researching new technology, it soon became clear there are way too many local apps to list here. So, you’re encouraged to search out apps for the community, church, business, parks and recreation department, school, college, fire department, police department, or whatever other venue you might need. Visit the Apple or Android app store today and download the Lake & Sumter Style and Healthy Living online magazine app for your mobile device.

GREAT ESCAPE Another new form of entertainment is Mind Masters, 1457 E. Highway 50 in Clermont. This is an escape-room game that can be set up for adults to play or for family play. Owned by father and son, Don and James Canavan along with Trista Fouts and Manolo Hernandez, Mind Masters has already become known by setting up tents at various city events to introduce the games. The games feature a room a team must escape, a particular item that must be found, or a puzzle to solve. “We’re not wanting this to be too difficult for people to enjoy,” James says. “We want everyone to solve our room and get the whole story.”

THE NEW COLLEGE TRY Now among the many programs offered by Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg is an associate degree in industrial management technology, according to a recent press release. The IMT degree is for students completing postsecondary adult vocational programs, and it offers a complementary program of academic coursework to prepare them for leadership opportunities in their career. “Lake County has a long and rich manufacturing heritage,” says Robert Chandler, executive director of Lake County’s Agency for Economic Prosperity. “And the manufacturing sector will most definitely continue to play a critical role in Lake County’s ongoing goal to diversify the local economy.”

POWER TO THE PEOPLE Is anything more frightening than knowing you’re stuck somewhere and not going home for a while, but your phone is only 39 percent charged? Not to worry. With PowerCore Charge Tabs, you have instant access to power. No need for an outlet, just plug it in to your iPhone/iPad or Android device or any Micro-USB tab powered device. The PowerCore Charge Tabs are precharged for instant use with up to a four-hour charge. With the biodegradable shell, they’re especially good for long flights or car trips. Buy them in packs with one, three, six, or nine. There is a power switch to increase their 18-month shelf life and they have 1,200 mAh.

WORLD BOOK NEVER HAD THIS It’s so exciting—now you not only have to worry about remembering the word on the tip of your tongue, you also must remember the emoji. And if you’re not sure which emoji to use, just look it up at Recent surveys indicate millennials are more expressive with thoughts than words. However, it might be wise not to use emojis on a résumé.

TECHNOLOGY AND AGING Researchers in technology are looking to help seniors by monitoring the person and the place, according to a recent study by Aging and Technology. Knowing most older adults wish to continue living at home, the goal is to let them remain active, self-sufficient, and aware with the aid of technology. Here are 10 future trends predicted to help an aging population:

1. Talking street signs 2. Cars that drive themselves 3. Doctors on Skype 4. Remote patient monitoring 5. Online medical records 6. Caregiver robots 7. LED lights on everything 8. Smart homes that age with owners 9. Sensors on almost everything 10. More apps to track a wide range of body functions/needs

January 2018




A new ‘Golden Age’ Classic train travel returns to the Golden Triangle. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ


uch like the holidays, the Polar Express has left town with the change of the calendar, but train lovers still can ride the rails in Lake County. The Royal Palm Railway Experience tourist train rolls between Tavares, Mount Dora, and Eustis, a pairing of the Golden Triangle and the “Golden Age” of travel aboard classic railcars. The daytime rides, which began in October before a six-week holiday break for the Polar Express, return in mid-January on Wednesdays through Sundays. Evening dinner train service initially starts Saturdays and may also expand to Fridays, says Neil Bagaus, spokesman for Orlando & Northwestern Railway, which markets the Royal Palm brand. Morning brunch trains and seasonal events also are in the plans. The Royal Palm venture is designed to re-create travel “reminiscent of the famous streamlined passenger trains that once served Florida,” with vintage diesel locomotives, dome cars, and other preserved equipment, a promotional release states. The trips primarily are for entertainment with narration onboard. “This will be the finest tourist train experience ever offered in Florida,” Neil says. “Our fleet of airconditioned equipment will allow our passengers to experience the very best of classic mid-century modern style.” The railway and the city of Tavares struck a deal in July 2017 with Florida Central Railroad, the owner of the tracks. The city’s former steamengine train, the Orange Blossom Cannonball, closed down a year ago after the railroad terminated its contract with the operator.




“America’s Seaplane City” isn’t likely to change its name to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” but restoring the rail offerings is a boon for Tavares, City Administrator John Drury says. “Expanding the city’s economic base to include the Polar Express is lock-step in sync with the city’s goal of creating the downtown’s entertainment district as a destination,” he says. “It really punctuates the ‘entertainment’ portion of the entertainment district in a very family-friendly way.” The Polar Express, operated by Rail Events Inc. in cooperation with Warner Bros., recently wrapped up a successful run of mostly sold-out rides during the holiday season. Using about 40 actors from Disney World, Sea World, and other theme parks to play the characters, the ride re-created Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 book (and the 2004 film) about a boy who takes a magical Christmas Eve train ride to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa. The one-hour roundtrip included singing, dancing, a reading of the book, treats, Santa Claus, and gifts of silver sleigh bells, catering to children and other fans who often wore their pajamas on the train. That’s a tough act to follow, but more fun is around the bend. Seasonal specials will include a Valentine’s Day dinner train ride with entertainment, and murder mystery rides also are planned, event director Joey McCollough says. Negotiations for licensed events similar to the Polar Express were ongoing in late 2017, he says. The daily Golden Triangle trips also will bring new visitors and consumers into each of the three stops on the route: Tavares Union Station, 305 E. Ruby St.,

Mount Dora Historical Railroad Station, 341 Alexander St., and Eustis Band Shell, 250 Ferran Park Drive. In Tavares, the Polar Express not only brought excitement to downtown, it generated interest in the regular tourist rides as well for people such as Kathy Rouse and Ronald Ellis, snowbirds from Pennsylvania. “We’ve ridden it before when they had the steam engine and we’ve ridden trains in other areas,” Ronald says. “We probably will ride (the new train) for the fact that you can get on and off and ride all day.” The daytrips are run on the same train used for the Polar Express but with far fewer coaches. While the Polar Express had 12 coaches and capacity for 600 passengers, the daily rides carry 80-120 people to maintain a comfortable environment, Joey says. The Royal Palm Railway Experience uses a quilt of railcars from around the country, so assembling the train was no easy task, Neil says. Three locomotives and 15 passenger cars were brought in over a period of weeks from other states, including Illinois, Indiana, and Mississippi. Many of the railcars have been restored to their original 1950s appearances. Leesburg residents Tony Burkett, whose grandson thinks he looks like the conductor in “The Polar Express,” and Elaine Cruthers saw the November debut of the Express in Tavares. They also plan to catch the daily train. “I think it would be a blast,” Elaine says. Schedules and pricing for the Royal Palm Railway Experience can be found on the company’s website,

“This will be the finest tourist train experience ever offered in Florida.” —NEIL BAGAUS

January 2018


. w ne TITLE H


Crowning moment Sisters make history as Miss Leesburg and Teen Miss Leesburg. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ


va Henderson, 16, a junior at Leesburg High School, and her sister, Chloe, 14, a freshman, have been very close growing up, participating together in dance classes and cheerleading, and now they’re donning sparkling tiaras and representing the city of Leesburg at local events. “Little kids run up, hug us, and say, ‘Oh, princesses!’ It’s fun to watch,” Eva says. “So, we take our crowns off and let them wear them.” The daughters of William and Melonie Henderson achieved a milestone last September at the 31st annual Miss Leesburg Scholarship Program by becoming the first sisters in the pageant’s history to win their respective titles at the same time. Eva was crowned Miss Leesburg, and Chloe won Teen Miss Leesburg. Their pageant “sisters” are Alex DeLand as Junior Miss Leesburg, Reese Bryan as Little Miss Leesburg, and Whitany Parrett as Tiny Miss Leesburg. “They strongly wanted to do this,” Melonie recalls of her daughters entering the pageant together. Even when Chloe was an infant and Eva was a toddler, they were inseparable. “When their car seats were next to each other, Eva would always hold Chloe’s hand,” Melonie recalls. The sisters practiced for the pageant by brushing up on possible civic events questions. “Being in the pageant is all about confidence,” Eva says. “You have to ooze confidence. We helped each other with our walks, and I told Chloe more of what to do: sit up straight, smile, look at the judges, and we practiced by asking each other questions like we were being interviewed.”




“It helped me a lot,” Chloe says. Eva recalls being inspired by the Miss Leesburg program in seventh grade when her friend, Ainsley Farfaglia, held the title of Junior Miss Leesburg. “I remember when she won. I was like, ‘I want to do this!’ I wanted to go out, wear the crown, and do everything,” Eva says, impressed by the volunteer service projects the titleholders perform. Among the Miss Leesburg activities: hosting a Diaper Drive for the Pregnancy Care Center and local day cares; collecting nonperishable foods for a Christmas food drive; gathering school supplies for needy children; collecting coats and jackets through the Miss Leesburg Jacket Drive; and participating in Head Start projects. They also take part in the Leesburg Christmas Stroll, Downtown Partnership Boo Bash, Leesburg Center for the Arts events, and Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Chloe says her favorite activity so far has been joining her pageant sisters to volunteer at the Brookdale Leesburg assisted living facility, where the girls “adopt a grandparent” to visit monthly and during holidays and special occasions. Melonie notices her daughters are more social as Miss Leesburg titleholders. “It does a lot for both of them,” she says. “Already, I see such a difference in Chloe, just in confidence and the ability to be out there meeting new people in the community and doing different events that she may not normally get the opportunity to do. They’re helping others, and it’s a chance to get out there and see what our community

is all about, and to be involved in different functions. It keeps them active.” Linda Watts, director and founder of the Miss Leesburg Scholarship Program and Florida’s Hometown USA Program Inc., says the Henderson sisters are committed to their responsibilities. “Chloe and Eva are excellent youth role models for the city of Leesburg,” Linda says. “They are doing a great job and we are very proud of them. It is special to have sisters together the same year and to see them working as a team.” The sisters believe their Miss Leesburg duties have strengthened their close bond. “What I admire about Chloe is she’s very strong-willed and very, very kind. She will put everyone before herself; she has the biggest heart of anyone I know,” Eva says. “Eva is beautiful, nice, and funny,” Chloe says of what she adores about her oldest sister. The teens also have a younger sister, Lily, 12; and a brother, Liam, 10. Eva and Chloe aspire to go to college at the University of Florida, and both are appreciative of the awards they will earn after their year-long reigns end in September 2018. Eva receives a $5,000 college scholarship, and her pageant sisters get $500 each. The Miss Leesburg Scholarship Program notes on its website that $165,000 has been awarded to young girls since 1997. “It’s such a gift,” Eva says. “The best thing about being Miss Leesburg is meeting and getting to know people in the community, and it can definitely help in the future. We’re making more friends.”


January 2018


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On the Scene

The places you don’t expect to see.


January 2018


* TOHnE TTOh- DeO SL cI S eT n e

January JAN. 8-MARCH 16

Play ball!

Registration for Fruitland Park recreation basketball (ages 5-15) at Camp Geneva on Monday and Wednesday, March 26-May 16. Spring T-Ball (ages 4-6) playing at Veterans Park, Tuesday and Thursday, March 27-May 17. For information, call 352.360.6734.

JAN. 1-11

He done her wrong “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” is at The Studio Theatre Tierra del Sol, 806 San Marino Drive, The Villages, at 2 and 7pm. Frankie’s a waitress; Johnny’s a short-order cook. Romance ensues. For tickets, see JAN. 1-29

Share the love It’s Love Week and by running in the Love Run 5K at 8am Saturday, Feb. 10, you can share the love with your community. $20 for early registration and deadline is noon Monday, Jan. 29. $30 to register on event day. 506 W. Berckman St., Fruitland Park. See love-week-5k-run to register. JAN. 6-7

Arts and crafts Don’t miss the 17th annual Spanish Springs Art & Craft Festival on




JAN. 6-7

It’s 1835 again In Bushnell, see Dade’s Battle Reenactment & Trade Fair. This is the battle that sparked the Second Seminole War. History buffs will love it. 9am-2pm both days at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603. Admission: $5 adults; children 6 and under free. Call 352.793.4781 for info.

JAN. 13-14

Main Street in The Villages town square. 10am-5pm both days and no admission charge.

and Bessie Smith. Tickets are $40-$85 and available at JAN. 11

JAN. 6, 13, 20, 2 7

Music and wine Every Saturday in January, Lakeridge Winery hosts its famous Music Series with live music on the outdoor stage and inside at the wine & cheese bar upstairs. In addition to wine, there’s beer, soft drinks, and food available for purchase. Admission is free. Noon4pm. For info, call 800.768.9463, ext. 219. 19239 U.S. Highway 27 N. in Clermont. JAN. 9

Me and Bobby McGee “A Night with Janis Joplin” at The Sharon, Spanish Springs Town Square in The Villages, celebrates Janis and her biggest musical influences like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta,

No business like show business “Broadway Baby” is presented by the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra at 7pm at Epiphany Celebration Anglican Church, 1724 S. Bay St., Eustis. Hear hits from “Porgy and Bess,” “Showboat,” and many other great shows. Get tickets at floridalakes JAN.12-13

Baby, oh, baby “Dirty Dancing—The Classic Story on Stage” is live and exploding with great music and romance. Show times are 7:30pm Friday and 2 and 7:30pm Saturday at The Sharon in Spanish Springs Town Square, The Villages. Tickets are $50-$100 and available at

The Highwaymen ride again! The annual Mount Dora Florida Highwaymen Art Show & Sale is from 11am-5pm at the Donnelly Park Pavilion at the corner of 5th and Donnelly. Admission is free. Call 352.383.4050 for info. JAN. 21

Just in time A unique concert presented by Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune will bring Broadway to The Villages at The Sharon in Spanish Springs Town Square. Tickets are $60-$125 and available at JAN. 22

Jack of the jungle Enjoy an awe-inspiring program from Jungle Jack Hanna at The Sharon in Spanish Springs Town Square, The Villages. Show: 7pm. Tickets $25-$100 with $100 meet-and-greet

Farmer’s Markets Saturdays The Saturday Morning Market on Leesburg Towne Square, 8am-1pm Brownwood Farmer’s Market 2726 Brownwood Blvd. Wildwood, 9am-1pm Tuesdays Lady Lake Farmers Market Lady Lake Log Cabin 106 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 9am-1pm e’s Ther o do! t e r o m .64 d on p ue Contin

January 2018


Ongoing Events 1st Saturday Wine Tasting Stroll Starts at Maggie’s Attic on Alexander St. and 4th Ave., 6-8pm 2nd Friday Art Splash Features artists and performers on the sidewalks of downtown Mount Dora., 6-8pm 2nd Friday Movie in the Park Free family movie starts at dusk Donnelly Park Downtown Mount Dora 3rd Wednesday PAWS Reading Dogs, W.T. Bland Library, Mount Dora 3rd Thursday Mount Dora Food Trucks, Downtown Mount Dora

add on with limited availability. See

7pm at The Sharon in Spanish Springs Town Square, The Villages. Tickets: $20-$80, available at

JAN. 24

Life is a cabaret Come to the “Cabaret” at Savannah Center, 1575 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages. Showtimes are 5 and 8pm. Tickets/$19 balcony; $28/ table ticket (10 per table). BYOB and snacks. Proceeds benefit The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation. Go to for more information.

The Villages. 7pm. Tickets: $50-$150, available at JAN. 27

JAN. 25

Goals for the new year The city of Mount Dora, Visit Mount Dora, Lake County Economic Development & Tourism, and the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce will discuss partnerships and goals. 5:30-8:30pm. Get tickets at or call 352.383.2165.

Make your own kind of music “Gobsmacked” is an amazing a cappella show with beatboxing, beautiful harmonies, and incredible arrangements. At The Sharon in The Villages at 7pm. Tickets: $20-$55, available at

JAN. 26 JAN. 24

Sweden’s beloved orchestra The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1912 and is one of the oldest orchestras in Sweden. Show:

Skywriter Spend an evening with the great Art Garfunkel and his “beautiful countertenor” voice at The Sharon in Spanish Springs Town Square,

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: or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

JAN. 29

12 singers singing Chanticleer features the perfectly blended voices of 12 men who are called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by the New Yorker. Appearing at The Sharon in The Villages at 7pm. Tickets: $20-$40, available at


4th Saturday Classic Car Cruise-In, Downtown Eustis

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: or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

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Phil Dirt and the Dozers

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Defenders of Daisies

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Dr. Paul

Kalua Hale Beach Bar, Tavares



Pam Tillis

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Elvis Tribute

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



A Night with Janis Joplin

The Sharon, The Villages



Jeff Whitfield

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Connie Smith

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Chris Ryals Band

Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg



Sawyer Brown

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Da Boys

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Chris Ryals Band

Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg



The Simple Cavemen

Yalaha Bakery, Yalaha



Tribute Quartet

Leesburg Church of the Nazarene, Leesburg

1/14 1/15 1/16

7:30pm 7pm 7pm

Defenders of Daisies Glenn Miller Orchestra Art Garfunkel

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares The Sharon, The Villages The Sharon, The Villages



Jeff Whitfield

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Johnny Lee

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Mickey Gilley

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Ruth and Max Bloomquist

Leesburg Center for the Arts, Leesburg



The Simple Cavemen

Yalaha Bakery, Yalaha



BJ Thomas

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Defenders of Daisies

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Helsingborg Orchestra

The Sharon, The Villages



Jeff Whitfield

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Jason D. Williams

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Pat Boone

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale



Da Boys

Ruby Street Grille, Tavares



Bobby Bare

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale




The Sharon, The Villages



Bellamy Brothers

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

Bands subject to change. Email to submit an event. Submissions must be received by the ninth of the month prior to month of the event (example: Oct. 9 for Nov. issue).




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Life’s a party Mount Dora rocker has nothing but fun on solo record. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ


odd “Noize” Voss boldly announces who he is on the opening track of his first solo CD: a “Cool Rocking Daddy” with a blistering guitar. The Mount Dora musician also tells listeners what’s important to him in the fun-loving title song: “Girls, Guitars, Motorcycles, and Cars!!!” (with three exclamation points because one just won’t do). “The title song says it all,” he says. Noize—most people know him by the nickname a bandmate slapped on him—released the disc in December 2016, thanks to free recording time from friend Kim LaFleur at Palladium Sound in Sanford and donations from around the world on gofundme. com. After decades of traveling in bands, the solo project was a labor of love. It all started with a Kiss concert in the 1970s. Born in Racine, Wisconsin, halfway between the music scenes of Milwaukee and Chicago, Noize saw the boisterous, pyrotechnic, painted-face band perform at a nearby ice rink.

“Girls, Guitars, Motorcycles, and Cars!!!” can be purchased at,, or by emailing




“There’s not a better way to be introduced to rock ’n’ roll,” he says. “When they came out, they looked 10 feet tall. I had seen pictures, but until you saw them live, you weren’t ready for it.” The next day, Noize grabbed a guitar that had been gathering dust under his bed, and a lifelong obsession began. His band later played shows with Chicago up-and-comers Cheap Trick, and he became acquaintances with guitarist Rick Nielsen. Noize’s song “Loving Arms” is an ode to Milwaukee and those nights of heading home from a gig to a waiting love. He’s now played 1,500 gigs and his résumé reads like “The Noize Heard ’Round the World Tour”: The States, Canada, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and shows for troops in the Middle East. When Noize decided to make the CD, he was influenced by another KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. He didn’t want to write about doom and gloom—he wanted a party record. On the eight tracks, Noize’s guitar and Gene Katko’s drums produce a big sound with riffs and beats reminiscent of those ’70s influences, with an echo of rock pioneers. “Better Days” is a catchy standout melodically and lyrically, and perhaps a theme song for Noize to get through recent personal hardships: “I will sing my way out of this one/All I want are better days.” And he’s making the most of his days in “Say Hey,” the CD closer. There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s not going anywhere: “Life’s a party I ain’t leaving.” “Music is such a passionate thing for me,” Noize says. “I can’t go a day without it.”


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Off the beaten path Discover the worlds of Faulkner, Twain, and Uncle Remus. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS





he best part of travel is discovering unexpected gems, whether it’s a city, an attraction, or a piece of history not on your original itinerary. The unanticipated surprises are often the most memorable and the ones you’ll be talking about for years. This month, we are taking you to some places off the beaten path that you may not have thought about visiting.

Photos courtesy of Visit Oxford


Although consistently ranked among America’s best small towns, Oxford, Mississippi, isn’t usually perceived as a tourist destination. After all, college football pretty much dominates when the Ole Miss Rebels tackle other SEC teams. Traditional collegetown hoopla permeates Oxford on football weekends, but the historic city has a lot more to offer, especially for the non-football crowd. No trip to Oxford is complete without a stop at Rowan Oak, the antebellum home of author William Faulkner. It was the internationally known Faulkner who first discovered his own “little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about.” In a 1955 interview, Faulkner said, “I will never live long enough to exhaust it.” Faulkner created a cosmos of his own and called it Yoknapatawpha, a fictional place but certainly based on the environs around Oxford.

He even drew maps of the imaginary county, where some of his best-known books—“The Unvanquished,” “Sanctuary,” “The Sound and the Fury,” and “Light in August”—were set. Faulkner’s home, christened Rowan Oak after the Celtic legend of the magical rowan tree, is furnished much the way it was during his tenure there from 1930 to 1962, when he died. My favorite room was the study, where he wrote the outline of the novel “A Fable” on the walls. The 33-acre Rowan Oak estate includes Bailey Woods, a pristine natural area with trails linking the home to the University of Mississippi Museum. It’s about a 20-minute hike to the museum, which is home to world-class art collections from Greek and Roman antiquities to 20thcentury masters, including Georgia O’Keeffe. The regional collection of folk art featuring Theora Hamblett, a Mississippi native who gained national prominence

with her vibrant landscape paintings, is worth the hike alone. The city’s literary heritage apexes in Oxford Square where not one, but three independent bookstores successfully co-exist. I know firsthand how easy it is to while away an entire afternoon on the upstairs balcony of Square Books, a place where authors such as John Grisham, Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, and the late Willie Morris were frequent guests. On Thursday nights, don’t miss the rollicking Thacker Mountain Radio Hour at Off-Square Books, where the shelves are rolled back to make


Oxford, MS


room for 100 or so guests of all ages, from college freshmen to retirees. This old-style radio show with a house band, readings by authors (some famous, some up-and-coming), and musical acts has guests hootin’

January 2018


* OOUnT +TA BhOeU TS c e n e

and hollerin’ during the not-tobe-missed event. Although the show is broadcast on public radio, nothing compares to seeing it live. Finally, for craft cocktails and a magical view


overlooking downtown Oxford, head to The Coop on the fourth floor of Graduate Hotel. Memories of college life will return quickly with room keys resembling student IDs and a few décor items


I grew up reading Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer,” so I naturally thought he lived on or near the Mississippi River. I was quite surprised to learn he wrote those books in





reminiscent of dorm life. After a day of literature, art, and music, it’s good to be reminded that this still is a college town at heart. See

Elmira, New York, at his summer home called Quarry Farm. During a trip to Finger Lakes, New York, a planned detour led me to Elmira College, where I spent time inside Twain’s writing study. The octagonal structure was moved to the campus in 1952 from the farm. USA Today named Twain’s study the No. 1 Literary Attraction in America, and visitors line up to have their photos taken at the mantel just like the famous Twain photo. The real treasures, however, are the exhibits inside Cowles Hall. Family photographs, historic artifacts, and even

Oxford Square photo: Paul Gandy; Museum photo courtesy of Visit Oxford; Twain Study exterior and interior photos courtesy of Elmira College; Twain bust and typewriter: Mary Ann DeSantis; Uncle Remus photos: Tony DeSantis


one of Twain’s typewriters are packed inside the exhibit room that is open by appointment. The real-life Samuel Clemens spent his happiest years in Elmira, where he married a local girl, Olivia Langdon, whose family was quite prominent. They, along with their children, are buried at nearby Woodlawn Cemetery, where visitors often leave a cigar on the author’s gravestone. See


Joel Chandler Harris did not achieve the fame of Mark Twain or William Faulkner, but his role in preserving oral history of black slaves in southern Georgia is undeniable. As a 14-year-old “printer’s devil” at Turnwold Plantation, Harris listened to the tales that were handed down by slaves. Uncle Remus was a composite character drawn from several local slaves who shared the stories with him. “Years later, Harris reached into the storehouse of his


memories and wrote those stories in the newspapers he worked for as an adult,” says Georgia Smith, who has worked as a tour guide for 11 years at the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonville, Georgia. “Without Harris, many of those stories would have been lost forever.” The stories became “The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit,” a beloved children’s favorite although the stories had deeper meanings, Georgia says. And those stories were printed in 27 languages, with many foreign books on display at the museum.

The Uncle Remus Museum is an original slave cabin brought to Oak Street in Eatonville in 1963 to educate visitors about the life and work of Harris by using historic storytelling, period artifacts, and dioramas of the Uncle Remus characters. See



Mary Ann DeSantis Mary Ann DeSantis has written for Style publications since 2006. She was recognized with first-place Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards for Travel Writing in 2017, 2016, and 2012.

January 2018



Down to a fine art Mount Dora Arts Festival showcases nationally acclaimed artists. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL


ows of white tent booths filled with fine art, oil paintings, jewelry, watercolors, acrylics, clay, sculptures, and photography will dot the downtown streets of Mount Dora when the city kicks off Florida’s festival season and attracts more than 250,000 visitors—many by busloads—to Lake County. The 43rd annual Mount Dora Arts Festival is scheduled from 9am-5pm Feb. 3-4. Visitors can see and purchase works from 285 artists chosen from more than 800 applicants from around the country and Canada, according to Kristina Rosenburg, marketing director for the Mount Dora Center for the Arts, host of the festival. The popular two-day juried show has been ranked No. 7 among the 200 best art festivals nationwide by Sunshine Artist Magazine. “We are seeing some new artists who haven’t applied before, so we are thinking the reason why is because we are

The 43rd annual Mount Dora Arts Festival

Feb. 3-4




now rated No. 7 in the nation. A lot of people are now recognizing us,” Kristina says. “This is the highest we have ever been rated.” She is thrilled the local festival received a higher placing than art shows in Fort Myers and Naples. “We beat some big ones,” she says. The festival also awards more than $20,000 to artists winning best of show, judges’ choice, and the various “best of” prizes in different categories—another aspect that draws artists to Mount Dora. “We are still one of the top ones to offer the most awards,” Kristina says, adding artists also cherish exhibiting in Florida at a time when it’s colder in the northern states. “Some of the artists say they love the hospitality,” she says. “They love the setting and backdrop of Mount Dora; the festival is kind of their little escape or vacation away.” Mount Dora native Gary Hopcraft, a board member of

the arts center, remembers the first festival in 1975 was a small street gathering of art lovers. “I remember the merchants donating to help get the festival going each year. We were doing this because it was all about the art,” he says, recalling one year the festival didn’t happen because organizers forgot to notify the Department of Transportation about needing to close Donnelly Street. “What I really love about the art festival is seeing people I have worked with through the years,” Gary says. “It’s a chance to see old friends.” Artist John Wayne Jackson, from Black Mountains, North Carolina, made a new friend at last year’s festival after Seamus McGovern, 7, surprised him with a handmade ribbon—the Kids’ Choice award—for having artwork that was the young boy’s favorite. John was deeply moved. “I have a wall full of awards. Best of show, best of

sculptures, just a wall full, and in 18 years, you accumulate those,” John says. “I never had an award that touched me and moved me like when Seamus McGovern walked up to me and said, ‘I have something for you. I decided you’re the best of show,’ and he gave me this handmade ribbon. It was just the most amazing thing. It made my show.” The child returned with his parents later in the day and made his first art purchase with his own money of a little rainbow piece the artist had for sale at his booth. John says the handmade ribbon remains his favorite award. “I am going to move all of my ribbons around and put his right in the center where it belongs,” John says. He will return to the Mount Dora festival in February for the seventh time. Kristina says the Kids’ Choice was a new award last year and it will be offered at the 2018 festival, too. In a special Kids’ Art Zone area of the festival, children will be able to decorate blank ribbons with markers, crayons, stickers, and sparkles. The goal is for children to appreciate art and give the ribbons to the artist of their choice.

“Some of the artists wore their ribbons from the kids, while others put them in their booths so people could see they got a kids’ award. It was one of the cutest things we have done in a while,” Kristina says. The festival also will feature local and regional entertainment in Donnelly Park, food, and merchants welcoming visitors to town. Kristina takes delight in hearing of people who fall in love with Mount Dora while strolling the streets. “Some people like the art festival so much that they see great artwork and all this little town has to offer that they want to live here,” she says, adding it’s perfectly understandable. “With a nickname of Festival City, it draws people to Mount Dora.”


January 2018


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Around the Table


Heads and trails. SEE MORE on PG 91

January 2018


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Ta b l e



Have you seen Lenny?

Dinner over easy Sometimes it’s just fun to have breakfast for dinner. Everyone knows places like Denny’s, Bob Evans, Perkins, Cracker Barrel, and iHop serve breakfast all day, but if you’re looking for the “hometown” touch to your meal, try these favorites: Wolfy’s, 918 N. 14th St., Leesburg; Haystax Restaurant, 15939 U.S. Highway 441, Eustis; The Highland St. Café, 185 S. Highland St., Mount Dora; and Flapjack Johnny’s, 7432 Highway 50, Groveland. A big breakfast for dinner could be a treat for the whole family!

OK, Lenny, did you bump off five guys? And just where is Lenny anyway? In December 2016, plans were announced for a new Five Guys Burgers, along with a Chipotle restaurant and Aspen Dental, at the former site of Bojangles restaurant, 10430 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg. A new building went up and Aspen Dental moved in, but a city spokesman has no information on the whereabouts of Five Guys or Chipotle. The city received plans, however, for Lenny’s Grill & Subs at the same site. Lenny’s subs look delicious and the place is open 24 hours—except Lenny wasn’t there despite a Facebook page stating the sub shop would open in October. So be on the lookout for Lenny. TAVA R E S

Country goodness A small restaurant’s packed parking lot often is a sign of good food, and Mary’s Kountry Kitchen, 15945 County Road 448, Tavares, attracts locals and passersby with tasty old-fashioned, American favorites. It’s worth saving room for Mary’s scrumptious desserts, including Peanut Butter Reese Lasagna or Coconut Bomb Cake. Yum! MOUNT DORA

Mount Dora: Tasty and flavorful It’s not a free lunch but it will fill you up for the afternoon. Taste of Our Town is a guided tasting tour of food and wine in Mount Dora that also includes local history and scenic highlights. The tour stops at charming restaurants, quaint food shops, and wine bistros every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each month. The threehour tours start at 2pm at the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, 341 Alexander St. The cost of $49 per person includes seven to eight food tastings, a bottle of water, and exclusive discounts to local restaurants and establishments. For tickets and more information, go to or call the chamber at 352.383.2165.




More food products in 2018 A larger array of Stonewall Kitchen food products is now available at Southern Gourmet & Café, 314 W. Main St., Leesburg, which has increased in size to accommodate additional merchandise. “We have everything from appetizers, barbecue items, salsas, jams, and salad dressings,” says Sandy Maddox, who owns the café with her husband and son. “Stonewall Kitchen is known for their Maine blueberries, and we have lots of blueberry products in pancake and waffle mixes, blueberry syrups, blueberry toppings for ice cream, blueberry jams and jellies, and even in drink mixes of blueberry pomegranates.” Sandy says a variety of gift baskets will be available, too.

Slow cooker time! January is National Slow-Cooking Month, and that’s an easy way to increase meals at home. They use less electricity than an oven, and because of the long, low-temperature cooking, they tenderize lessexpensive cuts of meats. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences offers the following slow cooker recipe for barbecue ribs:

Barbecue ribs



Better late than never

Anyone who lives in Tavares knows it’s slim pickings if you want to find a late-night meal. That’s why a lot of people anxiously awaited the debut of BTW, 115 E. Main St., billed as the “the newest and coolest eatery yet.” BTW, which stands for burgers, tacos, and waffles, is expected to stay open late to attract night owls. A “BTW” storefront sign went up in the summer, and interior artwork was added in the fall as construction moved slowly. But hungry diners can check out the restaurant’s progress at WILDWOOD

Suds and sips If you’re a man who enjoys his brew, but your lovely lady prefers wine, here’s the perfect place to try local microbrews and wine—Backyard Barn Winery & Microbrewery. Not far from The Villages, the farm-based business is at 1945 E. County Road 462 in Wildwood. The family-ownedand-operated business makes small-batch, handcrafted wine and beer. You can enjoy it at the bar or in one of the pergolas with the delightful fire pit.


3-4 pounds of baby back or country-style ribs 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional 1/2 teaspoon pepper, optional 2

onions sliced

16-24 oz. bottle barbecue sauce (depending on how saucy you like your ribs) Directions

Place ribs in slow cooker with other ingredients and cook on high for one hour. Turn to low and cook for eight hours.


Ta b l e


Cream of the crop


Chefs share favorite recipes that make them swoon. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ, VOLKAN ULGEN


hefs in Lake and Sumter counties whip up delicious meals and desserts that diners love to savor, so what do they love to make in their own home kitchens? For Style readers only, the following local chefs graciously shared recipes of the foods they thoroughly enjoy.






From Bakery Chef Brandy Roach Bakery at 1884 Restaurant in Eustis

Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients:


2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar


teaspoon baking soda



teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp water


cup butter


tsp vanilla


3/4 cup light brown sugar Directions:

Mix your flour, baking soda and the kosher salt. Set it aside. In another bowl mix the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat until light and fluff y. Add your vanilla, water, and eggs into this mixture. Beat again until light and fluff y. Add flour mixture, mix until combined, then add 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Bake at 325 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, just until barely cooked but they look slightly undercooked.


From Chef Giovanni Manco of Gio’s Deli in Oxford and Giovanni’s Ristorante in The Villages

Rigatoni Gio’s (Note: Giovanni did not provide measurements, and just like many great cooks, he tosses ingredients together to create his favorite dish).



Chicken, cut into strips

Olive oil

Fresh bell peppers, cut into strips

Salt and pepper

Cherry tomatoes

Rigatoni pasta


Shaved Parmigiano

Fresh garlic Directions:

In a 12-inch sauté pan on medium heat, you will add fresh garlic and olive oil. Add chicken and bell peppers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let evenly cook. While chicken is cooking, add rigatoni pasta to salted boiling water and cook al dente. Once chicken and bell peppers are cooked through, add pasta, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Mix together and let all get heated through. Serve with shaved Parmigiano on top. Buon appetito!

January 2018



Ta b l e


From Chef Kathi Vincent Miz Kathi’s Cotillion Southern Café in Wildwood

Shrimp and cheese grits Ingredients:

4-6 extra jumbo shrimp

1/3 cup heavy cream

Dash of black pepper


bell pepper, any color



1/2 teaspoon lemon juice from lemon


large mushroom

Couple dashes of Dixie Dust (Miz Kathi’s house seasoning dry rub)


slices of bacon for bacon drippings and garnish


cups cheese grits, recipe below Couple dashes seasoned salt



teaspoon green onions for garnish


teaspoons Chardonnay white wine

strip bacon for garnish


Prepare grits (recipe below) at least 2 hours ahead. Grits should be thick to allow stable foundation for shrimp, veggies and wine sauce. Prepare the shrimp by peeling, deveining, and removing tails. Cut bell pepper into julienne slices. Slice mushroom into 4 to 6 slices. Dice 1 onion. Fry 6 slices thick-cut bacon and save the drippings. Cut lemon in half, remove pits. Place 1 cup prepared grits in soup bowl. Now you are ready. Cooking time for the following is about 6-7 minutes. Using an 8-inch fry pan on medium-high heat, add bacon drippings and shrimp. Stir until shrimp starts to turn pink. Do not allow shrimp to burn. Add 4-6 bell pepper slices, mushroom slices, and 1 tablespoon diced onion. Continue to stir. Do not allow veggies to burn. Add 1 teaspoon wine and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Wait a minute, then add 1/3 cup cream. Continue to stir to allow cream to come to a boil. Add 1 more teaspoon wine. Cook until sauce thickens 1-2 minutes. Just prior to removing from heat add black pepper, Dixie Dust, seasoned salt. Stir, remove from heat and pour over grits. Garnish with bacon bits and green onions. Enjoy!

Cheese grits Ingredients:


cups water



cup grits, quick cooking (not instant)

tablespoons butter, melted



cups half and half

heaping cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish

1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon Dixie Dust (Miz Kathi’s house seasoning and dry rub)

1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper 1

strip bacon, fried and crumbled for garnish


Bring water to a boil. Slowly add grits to boiling water while stirring. Reduce heat to very low. Stir until smooth and there are no lumps. Add seasoning, melted butter, half and half. Cover and simmer for at least two hours. Add cheese, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted. Note: Always season your grits while they are cooking. If you wait until they are already cooked, you can’t get enough salt in them.





From Chef Jessica Flinn Gourmet Today in Leesburg

Bucatini Carbonara with blue cheese and artichokes Ingredients:


pound bucatini pasta (you can use any long pasta fettucine, linguine, spaghetti, etc.)

1/2 pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds (or smaller if you have really long asparagus) 2 3

tablespoons olive oil garlic cloves, minced


ounces chopped artichoke hearts

1/2 cup dry white wine 1


cup crumbled blue cheese (gorgonzola would work here as well)


1/2 teaspoon salt 3

large eggs, beaten to blend


slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces


cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces) tablespoon chopped fresh basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. You will need your water ready to add pasta while sauce is being made. In a large pan or Dutch oven, cook cut bacon until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon. Add olive oil to pan with bacon grease and reduce heat to medium low. Add artichokes, then garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add wine and stir until wine reduces by half. Meanwhile, add pasta to pot of boiling salted water. Add 1/2 cup blue cheese, cream, crushed red pepper, black pepper and salt to the artichoke mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. When you have about 3 minutes left of your pasta cooking time, add the asparagus to your pasta water. Finish cooking until pasta is tender but still firm to bite. Drain the linguine and asparagus well, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. Add hot pasta and asparagus to sauce and toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add eggs to pasta and stir vigorously. Add bacon, 1/2 cup blue cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and basil and toss to incorporate. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if desired. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over pasta and serve.


From Executive Chef Jerry Vejseli Olive Branch Mediterranean Italian Grille and Bar in Mount Dora

Chicken broccoli Franchaise Ingredients:


chicken breasts


large broccoli spears Olive oil Flour Egg batter


ounces chicken stock or broth

1/2 fresh lemon Butter Fresh parsley Salt and pepper Angel hair pasta or rice pilaf


Clean 2 breasts of chicken and 2 large spears of broccoli. Start a frying pan with generous portion olive oil to cover the bottom. Dip the chicken and broccoli spears in flour and then in eggs. Once frying pan is hot, place chicken and broccoli in the pan to cook. For the sauce: In another frying pan, take 4 ounces of chicken stock/broth, add 1/2 of a squeezed fresh lemon, one ounce of butter and 1/2-ounce roux (made from equal parts of flour and butter mixture) and heat. Keep stirring and add in fresh parsley and a touch of black and white pepper. Back to the chicken, pour 2 ounces of white wine during the cooking process of the chicken and broccoli. Cook to golden brown.   Serve over 6 ounces of angel hair pasta or rice pilaf by placing the chicken and broccoli on the pasta or rice and ladeling the sauce over the top.

January 2018


* FAOrR Ko OuNnTdH ETRhOeA DTa b l e



D *

Dining at Pisco Sour is not just having a meal, it’s an epicurean experience. 96



on’t be surprised if you’re greeted by the owner of Pisco Sour. Jorge Bracamonte loves to come out of the kitchen and talk with his guests. He is very proud that the restaurant food is fresh and prepared onsite. Helping him fulfill his dream of owning his own restaurant are his son and daughter, Tony and Erika. We began our meal with some excellent fried calamari served with a side of golf sauce that certainly whetted our appetites. Though one of my dining companions tried the famous Neptune Clasigo Ceviche, the two women at the table went for more traditional fare. He assured us it was very good and eventually convinced us to try some. OK, it tasted good. I had lomo saltado, tenderloin strips with garlic, onion, sweet pepper, and normally

cilantro, but I asked that it not be added to my dish. This is served on a bed of steak fries with a side of rice. It was excellent. My other coworker had quinoa risotta with a mix of diced vegetables including lima beans and huacatay, which is a Peruvian black herb. Also delicious. Along with iced tea and Coke products, you can also have marcuyá, which is very tasty, or Inca Kola, the national Peruvian soda. Desserts were alfajores, a delicate cookie dusted with powdered sugar, and pionono, which resembles a jelly roll but is filled with manjar blanco. Wonderful! Dining at Pisco Sour is not just having a meal, it’s an epicurean experience. By the way, pisco sour, the drink of Peru, is also on the menu.

Pisco Sour Peruvian Restaurant // 100 E. 4th Ave., Mount Dora // 352.735.8106



The best worst-kept secret STORY: CHRIS GERBASI // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ


uy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar opened in August in The Villages with little fanfare so management could control the crowds expected at a new restaurant attached to a “celebrity chef” from the Food Network. That probably was a good strategy. It doesn’t take much to send Villagers into a feeding frenzy, and if everyone knew how good the food is at Guy’s, pandemonium would reign on Old Camp Road. So, don’t tell anybody that the meatloaf and six-cheese macaroni is exactly what anyone could hope for: a generous portion of juicy beef-and-pork meat with sweet brandied mushrooms and caramelized onions, paired with ultra-creamy mac and cheese. Keep it to yourself that Guy’s Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce makes the meatloaf even better— yes, I went there. Guy’s holiday secret was a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich unlike any sandwich you’ve seen.

Thanksgiving dinner was wrapped up in one giant hoagie concoction: smoked turkey breast, Swiss cheese, sausage-cornbread stuffing, cranberry jam, lettuce, tomato, kettle chips, and—wait for it—donkey sauce. Who knows where donkey sauce comes from, but it definitely added a kick. Just between us, the pounded, “pankocrusted” chicken tenders appetizer with three dipping sauces was delicious—must be the panko. And the mint chocolate chip ice cream in Oreo crust pie topped with whipped cream was as sweet as can be, but don’t let that get out. Keep everything on the down-low. Maybe you’ll see Guy, maybe you won’t. A hostess says she got a phone call and a man said, “This is Guy.” She replied, “Guy who?” Oh, that Guy. Yes, it’s that guy from TV and he’s brought “Flavortown” to The Villages. Don’t cause a panic.


(Out of a possible 5)

Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar 1045 Old Camp Road, The Villages 352.633.3018 Hours: 11am-10pm Sun-Thurs; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat

Fork Report:

Casual dining. $$ Seated promptly (lunch hour) WAIT FOR MEAL: 10 minutes OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY STARTERS: ($6.95-$13.95): Trash Can Nachos, roasted garlic hummus, pulled pork sliders, sashimi tuna won-tacos, mussels frites, Dragon Chili Bowl. ALL-DAY MENU: ($7.95-$29.95): variety of chicken wings, bacon mac ’n’ cheese burger, hot pastrami Reuben, jumbo crab cake, the Big Dipper roast beef, Motley Que pulled pork shoulder, fully loaded chicken pot pie, cordon bleu pasta, ribs, steaks. How Fork On The Road Works Our reviewers are objective and unbiased. This is not a paid feature. Our reviewer makes one unannounced visit and we pay for our meals.

January 2018


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There’s nothing else like it Rodello’s Italian Restaurant adds a different twist to authentic cuisine. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE


odello’s Italian Restaurant is bringing a whole new experience in Italian cuisine to the Leesburg area. Rodello’s serves authentic Italian dishes made from scratch with pasta, olive oil, and other ingredients imported from Italy. One of the partners in the new business is Chef Amadeo. After 17 years of honing his culinary skills while working for other people at Italian restaurants, Chef Amadeo decided to open his own restaurant. Rodello’s does everything a little bit different and a little bit better. Since the restaurant opened in November, Chef Amadeo has strived to create new dishes for diners who crave something unique. “Every day, I try to learn new dishes and new presentations, because presentation is very important,” Chef Amadeo says. The team behind Rodello’s fine dining experience also includes Executive Chef Severino, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando and moved up the ranks during 20 years of cooking at some of the best restaurants in Central Florida. “Everything I know, I try to put into the dishes in different flavors and different styles,” Chef Severino says. “Everything on the menu is Italian-inspired but with a different twist.” For example, Rodello’s Fiocchi alle Pere is pasta stuffed with four cheeses, topped with diced pears and roasted pistachios, and served

with a lemon cream sauce. Rodello’s meatballs are made with three meats: veal, ground lamb, and ground beef. Other specialties include personal pizzas, fried calamari, and charcuterie. Chef Amadeo also brought in former co-worker Mari Cade as general manager. Mari supervises a staff of 28 employees, pays the bills, and does most of the ordering. She also hopes to stage events such as wine tastings and dinners like a Taste of Italy, with special dishes not found anywhere else. A courtyard may be used for patio seating and entertainment, Mari says. The courtyard is one of many features at Rodello’s unique location on U.S. Highway 27. The beautiful building resembles an old Spanish mission, and the interior has been remodeled with a large dining room, custom-made wooden tables and chairs, and décor that adds to the Italian atmosphere. Rodello’s has a large wine locker and a full bar in a lounge where customers can get cocktails, coffee and dessert, or just relax. Chef Amadeo jumped at the opportunity to team up with business partner Raudel Torres, who has 20 years of restaurant experience and sees great potential and a great staff at Rodello’s. Early in his new business venture, Chef Amadeo also is optimistic. “We feel good, we’re working hard, so everything’s coming along,” Chef Amadeo says. “So far, so good.”

* Everything I know, I try to put into the dishes in different flavors and different styles. —CHEF SEVERINO

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 U.S Highway 27, Leesburg 352-319-8093 Hours:

11am-9pm daily

* FAOrR Ko OuNnTdH ETRhOeA DTa b l e



A firm believer in generous amounts of toppings makes David’s pies far superior to chains.

Pi that’s infinitely delicious STORY: JAMES COMBS // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ


y and large—and by that, I mean a large handmade thin crust with a magical blend of carbohydrates, cheese, and a smattering of vegetables—Americans love pizza. In fact, pizza is every bit an American staple as apple pie. When a new pizza restaurant opens locally, one becomes exceptionally curious.

That’s why I headed to Johnson’s Pizza Pi, a Leesburg-based pizzeria where the unpretentious atmosphere and décor won’t impress but the food certainly will. It’s important to note that owner David Johnson is not a Johnny-come-lately in the world of pizza making. He spent 15 years working for corporate giants Domino’s and Pizza Hut. “I observed and learned as much as I could from each chain,” says David, who fulfilled a lifelong dream in July when he opened his own restaurant. Now, he’s adding personal touches to craft the perfect pies. A firm believer in generous amounts of toppings makes David’s pies far superior to chains. The thin-crust Full Circle Pi came loaded with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black olives. By ordering thin crust, diners enjoy more of what’s good about pizza—cheese, sauce, and toppings. However, pizza is not the only star here. My dining partner described the pizza supreme grinder as “pizza in a sandwich” and was impressed that “cheese was oozing out, and the bun was toasted and crunchy with a nice touch of garlic butter on top.” Diners should strongly consider ordering cheese bread; the long, thin slices drip with melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese are accompanied with marinara sauce. If you’re like most Americans, your mouth waters at the thought of golden brown crust and cheesy goodness. Johnson’s Pizza Pi is a great place to satisfy that craving.

Johnson’s Pizza Pi // 4120 Corley Island Road, Suite 300, Leesburg // 352.801.7250

So much more than assisted living! Meet Gary, Osprey Lodge’s bus driver –voted one of our top employees by residents and associates! From driving the bus for resident appointments and trips, to playing a round of pool, or performing an impromptu ballroom dance, Gary is a big part of “Lodge Life.” He makes our residents feel special every day! Come get a taste of lodge lifestyle yourself. Schedule your tour today and receive an Osprey Lodge signature gift as our way of saying “thanks for getting to know us.” Call Ruth Cantillon at 352.253.5100

Osprey Lodge, 1761 Nightingale Ln, Tavares, FL Assisted Living Facility #11259

January 2018


* SAArL UoTuÉ n d

T h e Ta b l e

So many wines, so little time A few days in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region is just the tip of the glacial iceberg. With more than 100 wineries, it’s impossible to visit all of them, but you can discover award-winning wines with a little planning. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS


hoosing which wineries to visit in Finger Lakes, New York, is not an easy task and recommending only three or four wines to drink is downright impossible. As the largest wine-producing region east of California, the Finger Lakes American Viticultural Area (AVA) is far reaching, and wines run the gamut from the region’s wellknown rieslings to completely unexpected varietals like cabernet francs or dry amber vignoles. First, the size: 9,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of New Hampshire, is more than visitors can cover in just a couple of days—or even a week—especially when touring the region’s other sites and historic attractions. The 11 freshwater lakes, formed by glaciers thousands of years




ago, are home to four distinct wine trails that provide an easily navigable way to travel through the area. Many people who have never been to the area believe the wines from the Finger Lakes are all rieslings, and sweet ones at that. Indeed, there are some sweet, lighter wines, especially around the Canandaigua Lake Trail, a 41-mile-long route that runs from south of Rochester to Naples, New York. The 16-mile lake often is called “the playground of the Finger Lakes” because of the many recreational activities available, both in the summer and winter. The picturesque town of Canandaigua—which means “the chosen spot” in the language of the native Americans who inhabited

the region—is a great place to start a wine expedition. The town is home to the New York Wine and Culinary Center, a must-do stop if you are a firsttime visitor to the area. The nonprofit center is designed to educate visitors and create excitement about New York’s varied beverage, agriculture, and culinary industries. Start in the tasting room, where you can compare Finger Lakes wines side-by-side with wines from New York’s other AVA regions, such as Long Island or Lake Erie. Then take a wine pairing or a cooking class in one of the center’s state-ofthe-art classrooms. Finish up with lunch or dinner at the Upstairs Bistro overlooking Canandaigua Lake. The Bistro servers guided me through some of the best wine and cheese pairings I’ve ever

had—and not a single one included a syrupy-sweet wine. Melissa Knoblauch, Canandaigua’s community relations manager, acknowledged that Finger Lakes’ sweet reputation was not entirely wrong because many people wanted sweeter wines. But winemakers have perfected their techniques to make serious wines. “They said, ‘We have shown you that we can make what you like; now let us show you what we like,’” she says. And with that, the evening at the culinary center ended with a Chateau Frank Celébré Sparkling Rosé, a well-balanced Crémantstyle wine made from pinot meunier grapes.

A taste of history No trip to the Finger Lakes is complete without a tasting at Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines in Hammondsport on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. Dr. Frank, a plant science professor originally from the Ukraine, is often called the “father of Finger Lakes winemaking” for his work with Vitis vinifera vines, which led to the region’s production of world-class

European-style wines. Six generations later, his family still runs the winery that bears his name. While the Dr. Frank tasting room is a happy, delightful place, especially on weekends, plan your trip so you can experience the 1886 Reserve Tasting Room, especially for the Barrel Series Experience for only $35. On weekends from June to October, four Dr. Frank wines are paired with foods created by local chefs and served in the 1886 building, which Dr. Frank’s son purchased in 1980, next door to the winery. Reservations are definitely needed because the event is first class with sit-down service in a dining room surrounded by beautiful artwork. In addition to the food pairings, another highlight of my October Barrel Experience was tasting the Dr. Frank Lemberger wine from a barrel in the cellar. Lemberger grapes are native to Austria and produce a medium body red wine that pairs well with salmon and strong cheeses. After leaving Dr. Frank’s large-scale winery, I had a brief stop at the boutique Keuka Lake Vineyards, open only 11 years and

already getting 90-plus ratings on some of its wines from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. Former Peace Corps volunteer Mel Goldman and his wife planted their grapes in 1998. “I once worked in a kibbutz where they grew grapes… and I never forgot that experience,” says Mel, who is more often working in his vineyard than in the tasting room. “We visited Burgundy and Napa, and discovered Finger Lakes in 1992. I like that wineries here are ‘pioneers’ because we are not close to a major metropolis. People don’t realize we are six hours from New York City.” That has not, however, deterred many New York restaurants from discovering Keuka Lake Vineyards and serving Mel’s wines. In addition to Canandaigua Lake and Keuka Lake Wine Trails, two other larger wine trails offer even more winetasting experiences. Both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes have their own American Viticultural Areas completely contained within the Finger Lakes AVA. For a complete listing of wineries and wine trails, visit

WHAT “SALUTÉ” BROUGHT HOME: Keuka Lake Vineyards Dry Amber Vignoles, 2016: Specializing in small lots of wine, Keuka Lakes is one of the few offering the dry amber vignoles that has a bright orange color. Although there are hints of orange peel and tropical fruit flavors, the wine is known for its dry tannins and crisp acidity. $30. Keuka Lake Vineyards Estate Grown Dry Riesling, Evergreen Lek Vineyard, 2015:This single vineyard is planted near evergreen trees, giving this tart wine lots of minerality and slate flavor. $27. Dr. Konstantin Frank 2015 Lemberger:A cool climate grape, the Lemberger is wellsuited to the Finger Lakes steep hillsides. The aromas of black pepper and sour cherry are complemented with medium tannins and long finishes. $22.

Mary Ann DeSantis Mary Ann DeSantis is a fellow of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, Napa Valley, and recently received certification from the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). An award-winning journalist, she has written for Lake & Sumter Style since 2006.

January 2018



A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE

Dining in your city Astatula Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940 Astor Blackwater Inn Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US State Road 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 State Road 40 352.759.3551 Bushnell Chuck’s Odd Cuples Café 117 W Belt Ave 352.568.0408 Hong Kong Restaurant 2229 W CR 48 (352) 568-8888 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877 Waller’s Restaurant 138 Bushnell Plaza 352.793.2592 Clermont 801 City Grille 801 Montrose St. 352.394.6911 Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988 Bubba’s Catfish 1800 S. Hwy. 27 352.708.6142 Calabria Ristorante 13900 County Road 455 407.656.5144 Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Corelli Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924 El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884 Flippers Pizzeria 2523 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.242.2214




G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900 Green Garden 1790 E. Hwy. 50 352.243.2077 Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.242.1910 Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565 Lyn’s Ice Cream & Sandwich Shoppe 824 W. Montrose St. 352.536.9935 Napolis Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Robata Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 The Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.4808 Troy’s Cuban & Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295 Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225 Eustis 1884 Restaurant & Bar 12 East Magnolia Ave. 1.800.856.1884 Dam Smoker Barbeque 36721 County Road 19A 352.357.6555 Haystax Restaurant 15439 Hwy. 441 352.489.0510 Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 King’s Taste Bar-B-Que 503 Palmetto St. 352.589.0404 Maria’s Latin Dinner 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.5555

LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256 Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. County Road 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 Great Pizza Company 23 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.357.7377 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929 Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001 Valentina’s Sandwhich Factory 132 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.408.9608 Fruitland Park Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575 ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227 Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 Groveland Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999 James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050 Ikaho Sushi Japanese 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988 Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. State Road 33 352.429.2997

Howey-inthe-Hills JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600 Lady Lake Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 Lady Lake 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 The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. 514 Hwy. 441 352.614.9000 Leesburg Bloom’s Baking House and Restaurant 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004 Cafe Ola 400 N. 14th St. 352.365.0089 Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377 Chesapeake Bay Grill 4467 Arlington Ridge Blvd. 352.315.0066 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442 Cuba Pichy’s 10401 US Hwy. 441 352.365.2822 Dance’s BBQ 1707 South Street 352.801.8885 Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989 Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 County Road 44 352.365.2177 God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447 Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739

Habaneros 3 Mexican Restaurant 10601 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.315.1777 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Irene’s Ice Cream Sandwiches and Deli 4120 Corley Island Rd. 352.315.1118 Jamaican George 2402 W. Main St. 352.455.1898 Johnson’s Pizza Place 4120 Corley Island Rd., Ste. 300 352.801.7250 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 County Road 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Ms. T’s Place 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Osaka 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293 Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680 Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565 Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093 San Jose Mexican 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174

Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840 Southern Gourmet 314 W. Main St. 352.409.7512 Stavros Pizza 755 N. 14th St. 352.326.4202 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The 24 Tap Room 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.315.0198 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turner’s 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Two Old Hags Wine Shoppe 410 W Main St 352.435.9107 Vic’s Catering 352.728.8989 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777 Wrapsody 712 W. Main St. 352.801.7239 Mascotte Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093 The Surf Bar and Grill 650 Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Minneola Jack’s Barbecue 100 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.2673 Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232

Mount Dora 1921 by Norman Van Aken 141 E. 4th Ave. 352.385.1921 Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668 Barnwood Country Kitchen and Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903 Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Bocce Pizzeria 925 E. First Ave. 352.385.0067 Breezeway Café 411 N. Donnelly St. 352.702.7898 Cecile’s French Corner 237 W. Fourth Ave. 352.383.7100 Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Eduardo’s Loko Tacos Mexican Restaurant 226 Alfred St. 352.742.1181 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444 J.K. Thai & Sushi 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.5470 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 One Flight Up - Coffee, Dessert & Wine Bar 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.758.9818

Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669 PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092 Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555 Sidelines Sport Eatery 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433 Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 Zellie’s Pub 4025 N. U.S. Hwy. 19A 352.483.3855 Sorrento Del Franco Pizza Place 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Gi Gi’s 25444 State Road 46 352.735.4000 Tavares Angelo’s Italian Restaurant 2270 Vindale Rd. 352.343.2757 Buzzard Beach Grill 12423 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.5267 Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137 Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313 Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 County Road 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

Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829 Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744 The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585 The Villages Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 Bavarian Brewhaus 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.399.5516 Bravo Pizza 1080 Lake Sumter Landing 352.430.2394 Chengs Chinese and Sushi Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678 China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965 City Fire Brownwood & Paddock Square 352.561.2078 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 RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.2930 Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939 Sakura 265 Colony Blvd 352.205.7393 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800

VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887 Umatilla Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145 Gator’s 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969 Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555 Nicky D’s Pizza 325 N. Central Avenue 352.669.2400 Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 State Road 19 352.669.3922 Quarterdeck 801 Central Ave. 352.669.4662 Shanghai 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004 The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535 Umatilla Tavern 605 N. Central Ave. 352.669.1325 Wildwood China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223 Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577 O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077 Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109 Yalaha Yalaha Bakery 8210 County Road 48 352.324.3366

Country Club Restaurants Clermont Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118 Howey-in-the-Hills Mission Inn Resort El Conquistador Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3101 Mount Dora The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Villages Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208 Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627 Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evan’s Prairie Trail 352.750.2225 Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077 Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200 Legacy Restaurant Nancy Lopez Country Club 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475 Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501 Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499 Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005 Wildwood Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293

January 2018



A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE

Barnwood Country Kitchen and Smokehouse

tion! a c Lo ours w e N and H

Barbecue, American (Traditional), Southern // 3725 W Old US Hwy 441, Mount Dora // 352.630.4903 Sun & Tue-Thur: 7a.m.-3p.m., Fri-Sat: 7a.m.-8p.m., Closed Mon // // Mouth-watering barbecue. A family-like atmosphere. Old-fashioned service. Those are three qualities that patrons of Barnwood BBQ and Country Kitchen in Eustis experience upon each visit. Owners Dan and Elaine Backhaus have discovered that the recipe behind delicious barbecue is cooking meats low and slow over smoldering wood. That method has served them well, both for their restaurant and food truck business. Diners can also purchase Barnwood’s delicious, award-winning barbecue sauces and special seasonings. Popular breakfast items include a ham-and-cheese omelet, smoked sausage omelet, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and a variety of breakfast combinations. The restaurant’s equally delicious lunch items include a three-rib sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, beef brisket platter, smoked country sausage platter, mushroom Swiss burger, and grilled Reuben sandwich. Burgers, soups, and salads are also available. Be sure to top off your meal with one of Barnwood’s popular desserts, which include fruit cobbler and dark-chocolate brownies Awards: Lake & Sumter Style magazine’s No. 1 BBQ Restaurant, Best Judged Chicken, Best Judged Ribs, Best Judged Brisket (tie), and thirdplace in Best Judged Pork (April 2015) Top Entrée (pulled pork), Lake Eustis Chamber of Commerce food contest (2015 and 2016).

The Country Club of Mount Dora 1900 Country Club Blvd., Mount Dora 352.735.4059 Come enjoy a great meal at the Country Club of Mount Dora overlooking the beautiful greens of the golf course. We serve lunch daily and breakfast on weekends. Be sure to bring your appetite for our half-pound burgers made your way, thick cut Reuben sandwiches, delicious Greek salad, and much more. We serve a full breakfast menu every Saturday and Sunday including Eggs Benedict, French toast, omelettes, and much more. Come join us!

Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant Open seven days a week: 11am–9pm // Food, Spirits, Music, Sports 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441, Leesburg // 352.253.2442 // Cousin Vinnie’s is located on U.S. Hwy. 441 across from Home Depot. Owner “Cousin” Vinnie Vittoria and his family have created a unique atmosphere by combining a sports bar with a family restaurant. As soon as you walk into Vinnie’s you will immediately notice why they are famous for outstanding comfort food and service! They have been voted BEST WINGS in Lake & Sumter County every year since opening in 2008. In 2017, Vinnie’s was also voted BEST SPORTS BAR. Every Monday Night from 6 – 10 they host Texas Hold’Em Tournaments, Tuesday night is “Family Night” from 5–8p.m. when kids 12-and-under eat free. Wednesday night is “Trivia Night” when the fun starts at 6:30p.m. with prizes given to the top 3 teams. Thursday from 6 – 8 is Bingo! Every Saturday watch your favorite college team (including the SEC Package) while enjoying appetizer specials and $2 domestic draft beers. On Sundays, they offer “The Sunday NFL Ticket,” catch any game… any time while Domestic Buckets of beer are only $15 and Domestic Pitchers are only $7. A few menu items offered are (never frozen) killer ½ lb. burgers, personal pan pizzas, amazing rib-eye cheese steaks, healthy wheat wraps, fresh homemade salads, 16 awesome appetizers and their signature deep fried Ice Cream and Snickers Bars! Cousin Vinnie’s also offers, free Wi-Fi, great music, and an enthusiastic staff ready to exceed your expectations.




Gio’s Deli and Mercato 3975 County Road 201, Oxford // 352.748.5558 Mon-Wed 10A.M.-6 P.M. // Thurs-Sat 10 A.M. -8 P.M. Buon Appetito! There’s no need to travel to Italy to enjoy scrumptious homemade breads, pasta, fresh sandwiches, meats, cheeses, desserts, pastries, and foods from an Italian market—it’s all available here at Gio’s Deli, where our chef Giovanni earned his culinary degree in Italy. After opening Giovanni’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in The Villages in 2004, Gio has expanded with the deli bringing more of the old world to The Villages area to enjoy! Gio’s can cater a special family meal of lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken parmigiana or baked ziti, or call us when you need a special party platter or desserts for a social gathering. We get raves over everything from our homemade cheeses, bruschetta, and sweet treats of cannoli, lemon mascarpone cake, cheesecakes, strawberry tiramisu and more. Come check us out!

The Goblin Market Restaurant & Lounge 331-B Donnelly Street (Rear Alley), Mount Dora // 352.735.0059 // Lunch: Tue–Sat 11am–3:00pm // Dinner: Tue–Thu 5–9pm, Fri–Sat 5–10pm, Sun 11am–3:30pm Nestled on a back alley in downtown Mount Dora, the Goblin Market Restaurant has been charming locals and tourists alike since 1996. The restaurant, housed in a renovated warehouse, features three intimate, book-lined dining rooms and a full-service lounge furnished in soothing, muted tones with tasteful modern art. The private, tree-shaded courtyard and garden patio are open year-round for al fresco dining. Low lighting and “new age” music add the finishing touches to the restaurant’s casual elegance. Owners Vince and Janis Guzinski embrace a simple philosophy of offering the highest-quality products, served in a unique and romantic atmosphere by a personable and attentive staff. The Goblin Market’s wine list and menu represent a refreshing mix of ideas from its culinary team. The diversified origins and background of each member ensure exciting menu offerings and nightly selections. Join us for our new “lighter fare” dinner menu, gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches. Tuesday–Thursday from 3–9pm (regular dinner menu also available).

Guru Restaurant and Catering 2400 S. U.S. Hwy. 27, Suite 101, Clermont // 352.241.9884 Monday-Saturday 4pm-10 pm // Closed Sun. Guru Restaurant and Catering is the “go-to” place for a wide array of mouthwatering Indian fare, everything from appetizers, clay oven-baked Indian breads, Biryani specialties, chicken, seafood, lamb, beef entrees, and 12 different vegetable dishes for vegans to enjoy. Many diners rave about our Chicken Tikka Masala, featuring boneless chicken cooked in a clay oven, dipped in tomato sauce with onion, and flavored with aromatic herbs. All of our chefs are renowned for their creative combinations of spices and sauces, so let us cook for you!

January 2018



A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE

La Palma 1690 Citrus Blvd., Leesburg // 352.323.1444 // Open Daily 11:00am – 9:00pm // Lunch Specials: 11:00am – 3:00pm Owner Raudel Torres invites you to a delicious dining experience at the La Palma Mexican Grill. The recipes used for these unique dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Mexico, combined with culinary inspirations and trends from California and Louisiana. Flavorful, homemade Mexican entrees such as Tacos Azteca, Carnitas, Fajitas, and Tamales and much more are timeless and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. Sit in the comfortable dining room or enjoy the outdoor view on the new patio deck. Fast and friendly service, reasonable prices, and three-for-one margaritas all day every day mean exceeding customer expectations. In addition to in-house service, catering is available for large parties, or meetings. Daily specials available on the website, ts! hi Nigh Mariac hts from ig Tuesday n d kids an m p -8 6pm ! r) eat free e d (10 and un

Mom & Dads 304 U.S. Hwy. 441, Lady Lake // 352.753.2722 Tue-Sat 4pm–9pm // Closed Sun & Mon This little place in the heart of Lady Lake is a local favorite. All the food at Mom & Dad’s is authentic and homemade, from the famous sauce to pastas to the incredible desserts. Made from scratch in-house ravioli and lasagna. Many diners automatically order Spaghetti al la Bruzzi, which is the house specialty. This baked spaghetti has a meat sauce, mushrooms, and three cheeses. Add to that the homemade bread Papa prepares every day, and you’ve got a memorable meal. You can’t stop with the entrée, however. Mama’s homemade cakes are amazing! Moist and delicious German Chocolate, creamy, luxurious Red Velvet, Cannoli, and who doesn’t love Spumoni. If you’re looking for a great Italian dinner that will remind you of home and all the goodness of eating there, try Mom & Dad’s. Mom & Dad’s also offers a full gluten free menu featuring pizza, lasagna, ravioli, and desserts all made in-house from scratch.

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 U.S Highway 27, Leesburg // 352-319-8093 // Open Daily: 11am-9pm Chef Amadeo Avila invites you to enjoy authentic and fresh Italian cuisine in a friendly, comfortable dining environment at the new Rodello’s Italian Restaurant. The recipes used for his dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Italy— the restaurant is named for a city in the old country—with new culinary inspirations that Chef Amadeo has learned during many years in the restaurant business. Flavorful, homemade Italian entrees such as Pistachio Crusted Lamb, Salmon Saltimbocca, Lobster Ravioli, Shrimp Risotto, and many others are classics and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. New York Strip Steak and Filet Mignon are cooked to perfection. The lunch menu features personal pizzas, calzones, subs, and pasta. Sit in the spacious dining room or enjoy drinks or desserts like delicious gelato in the cozy lounge, which features a full bar, wine menu, and an array of specialty cocktails. Always look for new specials on Chef Amadeo’s menu, available on the restaurant’s website,




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

Valentina’s Sandwhich Factory 132 E. Magnolia Ave., Eustis // 352.408.9608 // Open daily 8:30am-7pm Valentina’s Sandwich Factory, which opened in 2017 in downtown Eustis, offers an eclectic dining experience with a mix of homemade Italian, South American, and Mediterranean dishes with fresh herbs and ingredients. Valentina’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a charming, casual dining environment. The menu includes a wonderful variety of delicious salads, soups, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages, including an array of teas, a selection of French and Italian wine, and Spanish sangria. The Argentinian roast beef sandwich, Aztec chicken soup, Argentinian empanadas, Mediterranean couscous, waffle crab cakes, baked brie, avocado toast, limoncello cake, and classic tiramisu are among the unique items. The new menu for breakfast, served from 8-11am, offers a variety of omelets (prosciutto, mushroom, chorizo, and Spanish), Japanese pancakes and skinny pancakes (grain free), South of the Border burritos, and a Norwegian breakfast of scrambled eggs and salmon over toast or bagel. Valentina’s features live music on Fridays.

Yalaha Bakery 8210 State Road 48, Yalaha // Open daily 8am-7pm // 352.324.3366 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 A German Bakery Like No Other!

January 2018



PHILIPPE GAMAIN KRISTIN CUSTER TANYA HAUGABROOK Astatula Elementary Beverly Shores Elementary Carver Middle

ERIN LACHUT Eustis Elementary


2019 Lake County Teachers of the Year

LINDA GOODEN Clermont Elementary

KACY WOLFE Eustis Heights Elementary


KELLY RALEY Eustis Middle

BETSY LANCY NICOLE CARRASQUILLO Imagine South Lake Lake County Virtual School

CATHY JUDD Lake Hills School

REBECCA MENDOZA Lake Minneola High

DEBORAH MICKENS Mascotte Elementary

RUTHANNE BALL ELIZABETH “LIZZ” SCHLOTTER PHILIP PORTER Mount Dora High Mount Dora Middle Minneola Elementary

CARRIE DIAZ DEE DEE BITTER GLENDA DUNSON Sawgrass Bay Elementary Seminole Springs Elementary Sorrento Elementary

CHELSEA BERNIER Treadway Elementary

GAYLE THURSTON Triangle Elementary

DUSTY P. BRONSON South Lake High

MEGHAN BLESSING Umatilla Elementary

SAMANTHA MARTIN KIMBERLY HACKETT Clermont Middle Cypress Ridge Elementary



LISA CRANDALL TRENITA HOLLADAY BRIDGITTE MARSHBURN JENNIFER CREECH Fruitland Park Elementary Grassy Lake Elementary Gray Middle Groveland Elementary

SONYA ROSENGLICK Lake Technical College

SARAH T. BALTINUS Leesburg Elementary



ASHLEY LUCROY Spring Creek Charter

BRYAN M. TOTTEN Umatilla High

CARISSA FILKIN Tavares Elementary

EMILY LOGAN Umatilla Middle


ROSEMARY PILONERO Villages Elementary

RAJESHREE DESAI Lost Lake Elementary

KATHRYN MATARAZZO Round Lake Elementary

LISA JOHNSON Tavares Middle

JASON LANCY Windy Hill Middle

Just like Mama used to make

Gio’s Deli and Mercato Italiano serves up authentic products from Italy. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Italians and Italian food lovers have discovered a little piece of the old country at Gio’s Deli and Mercato Italiano in Oxford. The business has been open for almost one year and “the word is quickly getting out that it’s a place to come experience,” owner/operator Giovanni Manco says. After graduating from culinary school in Napoli, Italy, Giovanni moved to the United States in 1999 to bring the authentic Italian cuisine to his family’s restaurant. It was during this time Giovanni learned all the avenues of the restaurant business. In 2004, he opened Giovanni’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in The Villages with the help of his wonderful family and staff. As Giovanni was always looking for fresh, real Italian ingredients and products for

the restaurant, the idea of a specialty market and deli was born—now Gio’s could offer imported products that cannot be found anywhere else! Cured meats, cheeses, spices, olive oils, pasta with unique cuts, canned goods, and fresh mozzarella are just some of the items you will find when you step into the deli. It’s like walking into an old Italian mercato. Just the aroma of the freshly baked breads and pastries alone will take you back to the time when your mama was baking and cooking sauce all day! For customers who truly miss Italy, Gio’s Deli and Mercato honors Italian celebrations of the saints and other holidays by making special desserts like St. Joseph zeppalas, pastiera grain pie,

struffoli, pasticciotti, tiramisu, and cannoli. People are excited for Gio’s to be here. “Finally—a real authentic Italian deli!,” customers say. Customers also can dine in for lunch or take it to go. A variety of salads like antipasto or Julie’s salad; sandwiches like the Italian combo or the classic homemade sausage peppers and onions; pizzas; and specialty sandwiches like the Gio Signature or The Godfather are just a few of the items offered. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after 4pm, come experience dinner at Gio’s Table, offering a variety of sauté dishes including chicken, veal, seafood, and pasta. And make sure you always save room for dessert! “Don’t forget the cannoli!”

* The word is quickly getting out that it’s a place to come experience Gio’s Deli and Mercato Italiano 3975 County Road 201, Oxford 352.748.5558 Hours:

Mon-Wed: 10am-6pm Thur-Sat: 10am-8pm Sundays: Closed

January 2018



F i na l T h oug h t

All apologies Freedom of speech means always having to say you’re sorry. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI


omewhere in the public eye… What a week I’m having! It’s hard to escape the spotlight these days. Every move and every word is recorded, repackaged, and regurgitated. Be careful what you say out there. Who knew a crack about transgender squirrels would bomb at the Humane Society luncheon? “I would like to publicly apologize for my insensitive remarks about the transgender squirrel community. As we all know, all squirrels matter….” That was Public Apology No. 1. Never should have jumped on the #MeToo bandwagon. You’re bashed if you’re an accuser, you’re bashed if you’re the accused. A newspaper columnist wrote that stories about mere “unwanted advances” trivialize reports of actual sexual assaults. Oh, OK, I thought a movement was taking place, not a game of “My trauma is worse than your trauma.” Sorry.


Do something out of line and the morality police come knocking, but take a stand for morality and you’re called a hypocrite.




Of course, I should’ve known better than to retweet that joke from Louis C.K. But how was I supposed to know he stole it from Bill Cosby? (Cheap joke. Mea culpa) But I couldn’t possibly have anticipated that saying, “You look very nice today” would result in a lawsuit. “I regret that my sexually neutral comment was misconstrued. I never had any intention of perverse flattery.” (I know, I’m trivializing. I apologize). Oh, sure, you’ve got a case against me for that peek at my privates that went viral, but it was an accident. The phone slipped while I was apologizing to Weight Watchers. “I apologize to the Anti-Nudity League for my ill-timed fleshy display….” Do something out of line and the morality police come knocking, but take a stand for morality and you’re called a hypocrite. You can’t win. You can’t choose sides anywhere anymore. In today’s hostile climate, who’s to say which moronic,

Neanderthal group is the “good” one and which is the “bad” one? And that’s just at the sports bar. I took a selfie of my touchdown dance and a fan from the other team targeted my head. Then a traffic stop on the way home was posted on YouTube (I only jokingly said to the officer, “Don’t taze me, bro.”) “I’m mortified by my actions and will make a substantial donation to the police fund….” All we do is apologize, and apologize for the apologies. Everyone has become judge, jury, and emoji issuer for everyone else. With greater means of communication comes greater responsibility, and not all points of view in opposition to your own require an apology. After a proper period of deep reflection, however, I have decided to enter treatment to escape the public eye. Clearly, I can’t make the right choices. At least that’s what everybody keeps telling me. Sorry.

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Photographed on location at Tuscawilla Art Park, Ocala FL






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STYLE Magazine, Village Edition, January 2018  
STYLE Magazine, Village Edition, January 2018