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Reflecting our thriving community


New Businesses Bring Exciting Offerings

Why Victory Pointe is Downtown's 'Game Changer' 1

Reflecting our thriving community.





Drone Photos




Advice & Ideas


Founder & Editor Kathryn Deen Designed & Illustrated by Gabi Zuniga


Letter from

the Editor Dear readers,

I love Clermont. I love its abundance of adventuresome hills, glossy lakes and moss-laden oaks. I love its plentiful parks and preserves. I love its families and family friendly events. Its darling pets. Its savvy business owners and ambitious students. Its emerging downtown. My love of Clermont led me to launch Clermont Magazine one year ago. And in that year, I’ve become even more enamored by this beautiful city and its amazing people. In about 115 website posts, and through the generosity of 27 incredible contributors — from a recent high school grad to a Pulitzer-nominated journalist — we’ve been able to: • Preview new businesses opening • Introduce you to some amazing people • Share expert tips to enhance your life • Give you drones-eye views • Show 360 video footage And it’s been such fun! Thank you for: • Visiting our website (all 21K of you) • Following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter • Subscribing to our e-newsletter • Entering our monthly contests • Advertising with us Thank you for being part of Clermont Magazine. I’m grateful for each of you. Please enjoy this special, one-year edition of Clermont Magazine with a look back on some of our favorite stories and photos. From the Heart of Clermont,

Kathryn Deen


Of Clermont



Q+A with Fred Sommer, the ‘Godfather’ of Triathlons Fred reflects on 35 years since bringing triathlons to Clermont, his recent USAT award + more.

By Michelle Craske In 1974, about 2,500 miles west in San Diego, a new sport was born. And it would eventually turn Clermont and South Lake County into a worldwide sports destination. The sport involved swimming, cycling and running. These were not triathletes. There was no such thing at the time. None were into cross-training, a term not yet coined. Most didn’t own racing bikes, and some were marginal swimmers at best. Yet they had an adventuresome spirit to come out after a hard day’s work to participate in a new athletic event. Over the next several years, the sport began to flourish in Southern California, but it was in 1977 when a barroom debate in Hawaii created what would quickly become one of the toughest endurance races in the country, the Hawaii Ironman. Worldwide recognition of the sport of triathlon fueled the growth of triathlon across America and eventually sparked the interest of a local college guy, Fred Sommer. Thirty-five years ago, he found Sommer Sports, a multi-5K-runs to 140.6-mile triathlons, in the Lake County area. Fred remains the CEO and master mind visionary behind the scenes at every event. Fred sat down with Clermont Magazine to explain how he got into the sport of triathlons and what led him to host his own right here in Clermont.

Q: What inspired you to host a triathlon in Clermont? After completing my first triathlon in Orlando I was hooked, but there was a major problem: Only a few triathlons existed in Florida at that time. I was in love with a new sport, but the opportunities to race were few and far apart. As a lifelong resident of Clermont, I thought to myself, this would be an ideal location for a triathlon. We’re smack dab in the center of Florida, we have a beautiful lake and public beach for the swim and there are miles upon miles of roads for the bike and run with little or no traffic present. My friends thought I was crazy for undertaking such a task with no event organizing experience whatsoever. Q: Wow! With little to no experience as a race director, how did your first event go? On Oct. 4, 1984, the Great Clermont Triathlon was born, and 384 triathletes raced a triathlon in the sleepy community of Clermont for the first time. The race was a tremendous success and I immediately started making plans for next year’s race! Q: What was the most challenging part of putting on triathlons during the early years? The early days of triathlon were like the wild wild west. The distances and formats were not standard, race staging equipment was still being developed and trialed, rules

were just being created, and race scoring was primitive by today’s standards. Q: Did you notice any changes in Clermont after you began hosting triathlons? Absolutely. Once athletes came to the area, they fell in love with Clermont and an increasing number decided to make it their permanent home. It was a triathlete’s paradise, especially with the varying terrain and numerous roads available for cycling. This eventually led to the addition of new facilities in Clermont, such as a new hospital and the National Training Center. Clermont was truly the top triathlon destination in the world. Where else could you train, race triathlons of all distances have your body and physical abilities tested be professionals and seek the best medical treatment possible for sports injuries, all in a single location?! Clermont! Compile that legacy with Clermont’s natural beauty, the miles of existing trails world class training facilities its beautiful downtown waterfront and Clermont now had a new identity, the “Choice of Champions!” Q: You have been hosting triathlons for 35 years now in Clermont. What do you see in the future for the city? The future is great for Clermont, and I’m super excited. The historic downtown is being revitalized, with new shops and restaurants on the way, the Victory Point and Triathlon Beach project opens this summer and will bring events closer to downtown and enrich the athlete experience, the cross-Florida Trail will soon become a reality, and more hotel rooms and housing options are being planned that will help keep athletes in town longer, and entice them to stay forever. Q: Your goals and dreams have had a major impact on the City of Clermont and the sport of triathlon. You were recently selected by the governing body USAT as the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. How does this feel knowing that you have helped shape the city and sport? It feels good! Without the vision to stage Clermont’s first triathlon nearly 35 years ago, Clermont would be a different community today. Because of one man’s dream, the future could never be brighter for Clermont than it is today.

Fred at the award ceremony in 1984 for the first Clermont triathlon.



CHAMPION SPOTLIGHT: OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST ‘VCB’ The Clermont resident just released an inspirational book. By Kathryn Deen

There once was a girl who could outrun all the boys in her town. Now, Veronica Campbell Brown, 36, can outrun almost anyone in the world. You may have heard of “VCB.” The three-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field happens to be a proud Clermont resident. Veronica’s claims to fame include eight medals for Jamaica across five consecutive Olympic Games — from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016. (That makes her No. 3 on the Olympic all-time list for number of medals!) Plus, she dominated at the IAFF World Outdoor Championships in 2011 with a gold and two silvers, bringing her total to 11 medals. Through the years, she has won the World Youth, World Junior and World Senior competitions.

Now, the sprinter is using her platform to give back and inspire other women to achieve their potential. Among her accomplishments, she just released her second inspirational book, continues to grow her foundation and is ramping up her public speaking engagements. Veronica’s new work, “Inside Out: Activate the Power Within You,” has been a few years in the making. The Christian Faith Publishing book is packed with Biblical lessons, as well as personal stories from Veronica’s athletic

triumphs and trials. “I talked about love, mental capacity and purpose,” she told Clermont Magazine during an interview at Palatlakaha Park, where she conditions when she’s not training at Montverde Academy. In order to be prosperous, we have to love what we do and love each other,” she said. “Only the strong can overcome challenges, and it’s important to know your purpose and work toward maximizing it.” For Veronica, writing started in high school on a personal level. She’d journal prayers and words of self-encouragement. An avid reader, some of the authors she took inspiration from include T.D. Jakes, Juanita Bynum and Cindy Trimm. “I understand the benefits of inspirational materials, so I want to play my part in inspiring as many people as I can,” she said. In part, Veronica credits her positive mindset for her success, including her most momentous accomplishment — becoming the second woman in history to defend her 200-meter Olympic gold medal. “My career has been a blessing and I’m very grateful for all that God has allowed me to accomplish,” she said.


Coming from the small town of Trelawny, Jamaica, Veronica is thankful for all the people who supported her path to the world stage. And she makes a point to pay it forward. That’s why she started the Veronica Campbell Brown Foundation in 2010 to mentor disadvantaged girls in Jamaica, as well as to fund their high school tuition. “Education is very important,” she said. “I know sports participation is just for a period in ones life, and at the end of the day, education is imperative for building a strong generation.” She hopes to grow the foundation in the coming years.

ribbean, including Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada and the Cayman Island. As for her favorite place to travel? “It’s always fun to compete in Jamaica because the fans are extremely energetic, supportive and passionate at the sport,” she said. When they’re not on the road, they train in Montverde. She also likes doing circuits at Lake Palatlakaha Park and jogging the hills of Clermont. “The hills are very good for training,” Veronica said. “I enjoy hill workouts. They pose a challenge, but in the end are well worth it.” The Browns love recharging at their favorite Clermont hangouts — catching a meal at Golden Krust, Akina or Crispers, jogging Waterfront Park and picnicking by the water. “It’s relaxing down there at the waterfront,” she said. “We love the scenery.” As for her other major source of support in her career? Veronica looks up to fellow Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey. “Merlene has been my inspiration and role model throughout my career,” Veronica said. She holds the world record for the 200-meters indoors, and she arguably has the longest career as an international sprinter; Merlene earned a record nine Olympic medals spanning seven Olympic games and boasts 14 World Championship medals. “She’s a great person, a good friend and an exceptional athlete,” Veronica said. “I admire her determination and strong will.”



A coach is a critical part of an athlete’s success, and Veronica found her current one in a unique way. Veronica met Omar Brown in high school in Jamaica. They attended college together at the University of Arkansas, both competing in track and specializing in the 200-meter sprint. (Omar medaled in the 200- and 100-meter at World Youth Championships and dominating the 200-meter at the 2006 Commonwealth Games before injuries slowed him down.) They fell in love and married in 2007, and it wasn’t until several years later that he became her coach. “Omar has helped me along the way,” Veronica said. “He’s very passionate, very knowledgeable and very patient. We learn how to balance our relationship — one side is business and one is personal, and we learned how to separate them.” Together, they travel all over the world to make her competition circuits. They may start with local races and then hop to places such as Shanghai, Doha, Czech Republic, Monte Carlo, Zurich, Oregon and New York. She also races around the Ca-

Veronica’s generosity pours out from her strong faith. The member of One in Christ Ministries in Clermont was raised in a Christian home. For her, running has always been spiritual. “My mother taught me the value of having strong faith in God,” she said. “I grew up studying my Bible.” “I realized that God has given me a special gift, so I have always worked hard on improving it,” she said. Her faith carries her through life’s lows, like when she gets training injuries that set her back for months. “There’s a reason for every injury,” she said. “There must be a lesson in it.” And she credits Christ for all the victories along the way. “I feel satisfied with what God has blessed me with,” she said. “Anything else I achieve now, I consider it a bonus.” What’s left on her wish list? Growing the foundation, ramping up her motivational speaking in the community, and having kids.


Favorite quote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13 -Greatest accomplishment: defending her 200-meter gold at the 2008 Olympics -Favorite local restaurants: Golden Krust, Akina and Crispers -Clermont hangout: Waterfront Park -Go-to splurge: Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin ice-cream



Twirling with Tiaras Junior Miss Lake County 2018 Reigns from Clermont By Kathryn Deen

Sayuri Velez-Chang’s journey to the crown was a quick one. The current sixth-grader broke onto the pageant scene only a year ago and immediately won over the judges. Most recently, Sayuri, 11, was awarded Junior Miss Lake County Florida 2018 — one of few Clermont residents to claim the title. Clermont isn’t exactly known for its pageant participation — yet. The Windy Hill Middle School student is fired up to continue competing and hopes her Clermont peers will join her. For Sayuri (pronounced “sigh-you-ree,” meaning heavenly in Japanese), it all started with baton twirling. She began practicing baton in kindergarten with the Tri City Dance Twirlers and has been competing individually for three years. Her twirling coach, Emily Pelton, (former Miss Teen Florida United States 2014) encouraged her to enter try beauty pageants. She won her first competition, Sunburst Beauty Pageant, locally in 2017 and then took 1st runner up at the State level. She also placed in the Denim and Diamonds Pageant in Lees-

burg and 2nd runner up in Hometown USA. Her pageant success adds to her hefty twirling accolades. In February, Sayuri returned for the second time to compete in Twirl Mania International Championships at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Sayuri won her division of 2018 Novice Miss Twirl Mania out of 38 girls age 11-12, performing to “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez. In 2017, she placed 4th in the Novice Miss Twirl Mania age 10-12. She also took Silver in the Novice age 11-12 Solo Champion in the 2017 FL Sunshine State Games for Baton Twirling. Her toughest twirling moves are the toss illusion and the threespin catch. Sayuri practices daily, usually in her yard but favors the pavilion at Waterfront Park in Downtown Clermont. But it’s so much more than a competition for this grounded 11-year-old with a big heart. For one, she doesn’t treat the other contestants as competitors. “I get to make new friends with my pageant sisters,” Sayuri told Clermont Magazine. “It’s really fun.” Building relationships and practicing sportsmanship are just a

couple ways she benefits from pageants, her mom, Sue Chang-Velez, said. “Her self confidence has been boosted up,” Sue said. “It helps her with her posture. It gives her an open mind.” And then there’s the community service aspect. “It’s not just about the beauty,” Sue said. “It’s also about helping the community. She loves volunteering and doing community service.” Sayuri has volunteered in a variety of ways, including making pet beds for animal shelters, assembling meals for Puerto Ricans post-Hurricane Irma, and fundraising for Parkland victims after the recent school shooting. “I like helping people,” Sayuri said. When Sue isn’t driving her daughter to volunteer or to practice, road tripping across the state or country for beauty pageants and twirling competitions, she serves at The Garden Grill Restaurant in Walt Disney World’sEpcot, where her husband, Hector Velez, cooks. Sue tries to keep the pressure off of her daughter, a high achiever who’s also an A/B Honor Roll student, as well as a member of Student Council, AVID Club and Chorus.

“The minute it’s not fun for you, it’s not fun for me and we do something else,” Sue tells Sayuri, who aspires to be a news reporter. Sue hopes there will be a Miss Clermont one day for Sayuri to compete in, if she’s still up for it. “We’ve seen this town grow from orange groves to traffic lights – and hopefully, pageants,” said Sue, a Clermont resident of 16 years. “It’s a matter of getting the word out and educating people that it’s not just about the beauty. The whole point is to do community service and help out the town.” And who wouldn’t want that?



Athlete Spotlight: Competing with Dual Purpose

Diane Travis will compete in the USAT National Duathlon April 7. By Doris Bloodsworth

Diane Travis runs like she lives – with purpose and passion. It’s how she trains every day, not just for one sport, but for two, becoming a world champion duathlete, a demanding sport that requires running, cycling and running again without a break. On March 11, she took first place at the Las Olas Duathlon in Fort Lauderdale, where she placed first for women over 40. At 64, she took 4th place overall against women more than half her age. It’s how she has built one successful career after another, from her days as an executive at Johnson & Johnson to an innovator in the telecom business to a savvy realtor, first at Stirling Sotheby’s International Realty before founding her own agency on one of Clermont’s highest points. It’s how she ran a successful campaign for city council in 2014. It’s also how she has become a passionate advocate for bicycle safety, leading the annual Ride of Silence, part of an international tradition to honor those who were killed while riding bicycles on public roads. Her family says Travis was competitive from an early age in Chicago, where she was a standout player on her high-school’s state championship volleyball team. Travis graduated from Governor’s State University and took up racquetball, becoming a city champion.

As her career soared, she married and divorced and lived in Texas and Minnesota before moving to Central Florida. She discovered Clermont and moved here in 1989. “I fell in love with the beautiful lakes and hills and with the people,” Travis said. It was the perfect place for her to train in her newest sport, duathlons. It was through racing that she met and fell in love with Harry Nickell, known for his big smile and his unofficial title of “ambassador for bicycling and triathlons.” The happy couple became engaged and moved into their dream home at Blue Springs Reserve. He worked as a construction project manager, while she sold real estate. They trained together. He competed in triathlons, while she ran in the companion duathlons. “We just did everything together,” Travis said. In 2010, Travis went to their cabin in North Carolina to prepare for Thanksgiving while Nickell stayed behind to ride in Clermont’s Horrible Hundred bicycle ride. He planned to bring their two dogs up to the cabin as soon as the race was over.But he never made it. As Nickell rode on the shoulder of Highway 27, an 84-yearold driver struck and killed him. Travis had not even unpacked her suitcase before learning of the news. As she opened her luggage to find something to wear home, she found a card from Harry. “I just want you to know that I really love you, and I can’t wait to see you with the dogs on Tuesday,” he had written. At Waterfront Park, where the couple had spent so many happy hours, Travis donated a polished granite bench to memorialize Nickell. It is the start and finish point for the Ride of Silence.

Since the tragedy, Travis has become one of the state’s leading voices for bicycle safety. She was asked to be the keynote speaker and to hand out awards at Bike Florida’s annual conference. Other milestones since then include winning a gold medal in the USA Duathlon and a silver in the world competition. She was honored as a Grand Masters Duathlon Athlete of the Year finalist. She also ran and won a seat on the city council. And so, as she rides her bicycle or runs through the trails and hills of Clermont, attends grand openings or cheers on her team of realtors, people are bound to see a certain intensity and passion. It’s the rare kind that only comes from a lifetime sharpened by tremendous success and tremendous loss. It’s the kind that makes world champions.


Pets Of Clermont

Check out some of the most darling pet residents of Clermont! Cat photos by Kathryn Deen | Dog photos by Madisen Garcia


Downtown Clermont

Drone Photos By Brett King

Take in the beauty of Clermont from above with these captivating drone photos.

The track at the National Training Center

Sunrise over orange groves by South Highway 27 17

A Mickey Mouse inspired forest off South Highway 27

The Citrus Tower at sunset

Sunset at Lake Minnehaha

Orange groves and clayroad in South Clermont 19

Orange groves near Lake Louisa State Park


Places 23


Clermont’s City Manager shares the hidden impacts of the new park, which opened July 27. Story & Sunrise Photos by Kathryn Deen Grand Opening Photos by Larry Oskin Stroll the scenic grounds of Clermont’s newest park and marvel at the possibilities. On the west side of Downtown, the $10.2-million Victory Pointe Wetlands Park offers landscaped walking paths, cascading ponds, a boardwalk, a 40-foot observation tower and an event pavilion. Clermont’s 24th park is a lovely outdoor destination to take in views of Lake Minneola with family and friends. Victory Pointe, which held its grand opening July 27 with 400 guests, also will host community events and will boast a new start/finish line and awards area for athletic races. Clermont Magazine captured the excitement and fanfare at the grand opening, which included a presentation by the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team. Victory Pointe will increase foot traffic downtown and will shift activity from the east end (Waterfront

Park) to a more central location to bring businesses more customers. “It’s exactly what we envisioned,” City Manager Darren Gray told Clermont Magazine. “I have goosebumps just thinking about it.” It’s all part of the City of Clermont’s $30 million master plan, adopted in 2015 and fully funded to revitalize the Downtown-Waterfront District. And it all traces back to one incredible leader and his passion for the residents. Darren became City Manager in 2012 and decided to take an unconventional route. Before hiring a consultant, he led three years of thoughtful visioning sessions, which drew over 1,000 residents to express their deepest desires for Clermont’s future. As an aside, the “Clermont Choice of Champions” phrase was inspired by a resident’s comment

at one such forum. “They wanted that heart and soul back in the Downtown, so we looked at, What can local government do to help spur that?” he said. With Darren at the helm, GAI Consultants’ Community Solutions Group conceptualized those dreams into a plan that’s already been recognized by the Florida Redevelopment Association and Lake-Sumter MPO. “We have one of the best downtowns in the country,” Darren said. “Six square blocks and it’s expanding even more — and 2 1/2 miles of waterfront property on one of the outstanding lakes in Florida, and a trail that runs right by it. So you can’t ask for anything more.” Victory Pointe is the first major project completed for the master plan. And its inaugural event

is a round of three bicycle races sponsored by Fondo Cycling Circuit USA on Sept. 30. Clermont was one of six U.S. cities chosen by the renowned company. “It will show what this event area can do,” Darren said, mentioning the push for new rowing, sailing, biking and running events at Victory Pointe, too. But Victory Pointe’s impact goes way beyond the surface — literally. Below the 10-acre park lies a regional stormwater drainage system. This elaborate, cutting-edge project alleviates Downtown’s businesses on the west side from having to pay for and make space for stormwater drainage on their own property. “It’s a great benefit to businesses,” Darren said. It was a welcome addition indeed. Onsite stormwater requirements made sites in west Downtown 15 percent less functional than in other parts of Down25

town that are served by regional ponds. And the City’s stormwater ponds were at capacity. Now, the western properties’ rain water can feed to Victory Pointe’s centralized system. And that means those businesses save the cost and space of having to install stormwater drainage on their own properties. (The State of Florida requires businesses to take care of this.) The cost savings of the City’s system can bemonumental for small businesses. “It can make or break them,” Darren said. “That’s a huge incentive in this city. It’s very essential for development and redevelopment.” As for space savings, on-property drainage can eat up perhaps a fourth or a third of your plot, Darren said. In fact, the stormwater utility solution means Downtown business owners can use and develop more of their properties, creating $18 million to $26 million in incremental residual land value, according to the City. And that could help add over $200 million in indirect market value to the area through the redevelopment and eventual build-out of properties in west Downtown.

Needless to say, it’s been a big selling point for developers seeking a desirable piece of property for their hot new real estate projects, Darren said. On the commercial side, new boutique shops, breweries and craft food spots have already lined up to take advantage of the stormwater perk. Darren attributed it to being a big selling point for soon-toopen Suncreek Brewery, Michael’s Ali and Savoree, for instance. Local residential developers also are upping their games Downtown. While about 650 residents currently live Downtown, the stormwater incentive is attracting more housing projects that will naturally lend themselves to more regular foot traffic to the shops and restaurants. A 2-acre condominium project was just approved for 17 units Downtown, Darren said. “Having more people living Downtown really helps its viability and sustainability,” Darren said. Inspired by the economic analysis that supported that sentiment, the City Council approved an increase in the density of residences Downtown from 12 units per acre to 40 units per acre. And builders looking to develop 25 units or more per acre will be required to contribute to the area with public art, trails or other enhancements, Darren explained. Overall, Victory Pointe brings to life the master plans’ goals to preserve and protect Lake Minneola and the Clermont Chain of Lakes. It plans to support vibrant, walkable and bikable spaces; help the private

sector thrive; and make Downtown a destination. Environmentally speaking, a filtration system will purify the stormwater before it drains into the lake. “It will significantly reduce the nutrient level in Lake Minneola, which helps all the Chain of Lakes here,” Darren said. “It’s already low, but it will decrease it by over 30 percent. When the nutrient level is low, the water is clean, which is very good for the environment and for our residents and people who enjoy the lake. It’s a win-win.” It all sets Clermont up to be one of the state’s “hottest investment opportunities,” attracting a mix of commercial office space, hotels, apartments/condos, entertainment, urban living and environment, Darren said.(In case you’re wondering about parking, a garage is already in talks to supplement the 1,200-plus spaces already Downtown.) “We’re starting to see the changes happen that we discussed just a few years ago,” Darren said. “I truly love this community and I have a passion for it. There’s so much potential.” And that’s thanks not only to the city for championing the project using the One Penny Sales Tax, but also to donors like Lake County Government, St. John’s River Water Management District and the Sate of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection for helping fund the project. “The implementation is so challenging but so rewarding,” Darren said. “Everyone is committed and is

working together to make this a success.” Clermont already is one of Florida’s fastest-growing cities, known for its business-friendly environment. (Wallet Hub ranked it the 2017 “Most Business Friendly” small city in Central Florida.) Victory Pointe will only build on its progress.And that, my friends, is why Darren calls Victory Pointe “The Game Changer” for Downtown Clermont. Beyond Victory Pointe, the master plan also will include these improvements that are scheduled for completion by 2022: • Clermont Legacy Loop Trail to bring bikers into the downtown core • An enhanced City Hall Park Plaza with shade, seating and games • Champions Wi-Fi Trail, providing free, open access to the City’s fiber-optic high-speed Internet along the South Lake Trail • A 19-block area with re-development incentives, such as grant-matching programs for commercial enhancement, food and related services; and community arts and culture, established by the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency • Meet Us in the Middle Plaza down by Lilly’s on the Lake to mark the exact center of the Coast-to-Coast Trail (101 miles from the east and west coasts of Florida)



Corelli’s Brings Old Italian Flavors to 2nd Location By Larry Oskin

Corelli’s Italian Restaurant is bringing old Italian flavors to a second location. Corelli’s Italian Pantry opened last month in downtown Clermont, at 732 Montrose St. You can expect many successful years of family tradition, popular recipes, delicious sauces and scrumptious New York style pizza. Owners Giuseppe and David Affrunti started their first Clermont restaurant and wine bar in 2013 in the former Kmart Shopping Center, at 1042 East Highway 50, near the intersection of U.S. 27. Giuseppe says, “We will always focus on being good, better and best. Don’t let the good rest, so that the good gets better and the better is best!” While having other previous family restaurants in Georgia and Fort Lauderdale, Giuseppe’s son David wanted to open his own new location here in Central Florida. David moved to the area as an avid Disney fan. The rest of his family joined him in Clermont and sold off their other locations. The downtown location of 2,000 square feet (a bit cozier than the 3,400-square-foot original restaurant) will initially feature sandwiches, subs, soups and salads with specialty and gourmet pizzas before growing into a full-service menu. The new spot will also feature fresh hot and prepared frozen foods for take-out. This will include appetizers, soups salads subs sandwiches calzone Stromboli and a full complement of family-style dinners and desserts. All non-pasta entrees are served with a side of pasta and garlic rolls. They have a special large children’s pizza pie. There’s even gluten-free pizza.

The downtown location is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; whereas the original Highway 50 restaurant is open the same hours Mondays through Saturdays but is closed on Sundays. The new spot even has a pet-friendly outdoor patio. Both locations feature live music, with saxophone, classic guitar and accordion.

Corelli’s Favorites Corelli’s Italian Restaurants feature family recipes and traditions started in the kitchen of Mama Corelli, David’s mother. They provide a mixture of Sicilian and Neapolitan flavors. You’ll find large family-style portions at reasonable prices. My favorites are the pastas, meatballs, pizzas and antipastos. They are proud of their large Two-Slice Pizza Special deal. Look for new Senior Specials for eat-in or take-out at the downtown location. Plus, pastas and lasagna are quite a deal, with dinners-to-go starting at $7.99. If you love the flavors at Corelli’s, you’re in luck. You can buy their family recipe sauces, oils dressings and seasonings when you shop their pantries. These specialty products are manufactured here locally and in Europe, so you can bring their flavors home. Also, wine enthusiasts will delight in a diverse selection from across the U.S., Italy and beyond.

Catering Claims to Fame Corelli’s began catering from their South Florida location for notable guests, including Eastern, American, Delta and private charter airlines, Hollywood stars, major movie production com-

panies, celebrities and professional sports teams. They have helped feed Kevin Costner, Emilio Estevez, Don Shula, Frank Stallone, the Miami Heat and dozens of other celebrities. They still cater for families, churches, weddings and big family celebrations. They have catered family-style Italian dinners for parties of 250, 500, 600 and more. They still offer half and full trays of their specialties.

Family Business Corelli’s is proud to have the entire family involved. All of the sons, daughters, in-laws and grandchildren have a hand in the business. Granddaughter Alyson Shallop, 7, is their “CEO and Hostess with the Mostest,” greeting customers when she visits. The youngest grandson, 2, has even been spotted trying to help mop.

Supporting the Community The owners are proud new Clermont Downtown Partnership members. They have long supported local Clermont area charities and community events, such as boy’s ranches, women’s clubs, sports teams and the library. Corelli’s has catered and donated food, gift certificates and sponsorships, including donating over 220 dinners to the River Church and over 600 meals to students at Windy Hill Middle School.


Shop Offers Cycling Classes, 1st Recovery Lounge in FL By Kathryn Deen

A local bike shop has brought serious cyclists’ dream to life.Bikers can train on their own road bikes — without weather or road hazards interfering with their ride. Plus, they can take advantage of Florida’s first recovery lounge. It’s all possible at Epic Cycles’ in Downtown Clermont at 528 8th St, next to the bike trail and facing Lake Minneola. The Red Lava Training Center is named after the cycling team associated with Epic — as well as the center it was modeled after in Moscow. But the facility’s spinning classes are open to anyone with a road bike or mountain bike. The new indoor studio softly opened hour-long training classes in the fall under the guidance of professional coaches, and it’s gaining momentum. “All the classes are geared toward making you a better rider on the road, not just for exercise,” Roman Brana told Clermont Magazine. Classes are offered at various times on weekdays and weekends. Focuses vary from climbing to pedal technique and efficiency to intervals and high cadence. Sometimes, Roman throws in a Movie Ride for fun. A large display screen at the front of the room reflects participants’ relative power, heart rate and RPMs based on a percentage of each person’s ability, from beginner to advanced. It features KICKR STUDIO equipment powered by Wahoo while BSXinsight provides the physiological testing. For convenience: Riders can store their bikes at the shop between classes, and staff will load your wheels for class. Showers are available at the cycling studio Epic’s own Energy Lab Cafe, (a modern coffee, tea, smoothie and juice bar) adjoins the studio and opens at 7 a.m. You can download the Epic’s World app for a breezy class sign up on Android and Apple. The idea for the riding room emerged in winter 2008. Roman realized

it could a be solution for cyclists wanting to train on their own bikes without outdoor challenges like winter chill and early sunset. “Well, people liked it so much they said, ‘Continue through the spring because it rains.’ And then they said, ‘Let’s do it in the summer because it’s scorching,’ — and then we continued all year long,” Roman recalled. Many Clermont-area residents have become regulars, and some folks from up North come down to train from January through April and use the room. “It’s been really popular,” Roman said. “It’s the only one around.” “People from up north are shocked that we have an indoor in Clermont. They’re like, ‘People want to bike outside.’ Yes and no — outdoors, there’s variables of weather, traffic, and time, so one hour here is equal to an hour and a half or an hour 45 on the road because of the higher intensity of the class. Outside, you’ll be cruising, turning, you’re not pedaling constantly. They like getting their workout in one hour.” But it’s not just practical. “People like the social aspect,” he said. Cycling classes hold up to 10 people and cost $30 each. One month of unlimited classes is $70, three months is $175 and a year costs $575. The other huge new perk at Epic Cycles is its Re:New Recovery Lounge.Not only has it attracted cyclists, but also other intense athletes like motocross and track and field competitors who need some relief after training. A hot therapy pool is set at 104 degrees, and an adjacent cold one is 55 degrees to help the muscles recover. Plus, there are compression booths and vascular therapy. “It’s very convenient not having to do ice baths at home, and it offers the contrast of temperatures,” Roman said. Post-exercise fatigue It typically takes 48 hours or more to go from post-exercise fatigue to full recovery. But ReNew’s edge tools help athletes reset in just one hour.Memberships and packages are available for those looking to use the cycling room and recovery room.


Let’s get “geeky,” Clermont! Are you into comics, manga, superheroes, science fiction or just geek culture in general? Well, buckle up, partner. Things are about to get “Marvel-ous!” See what I did there? It’s safe to say that Clermont has plenty of awesome shops, events and enthusiasts that keep this comic culture thriving here in the “Gem of the Hills,” whether you live here or visit. For starters, the past three years have offered up some big Hollywood names at the “Clermont Comic Con.” The con is held typically the second or third week in November, and just concluded 2017’s event on Nov. 19 at the Clermont Performing Arts Center. This year’s event included Marvel Comics’ premiere artist of “The Invincible Iron Man” comics, Bob Layton; as well as Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on “The Munsters.” Last year, even famed comic legend George Perez was featured. For information on how to attend 2018’s event, visit ClermontComicCon. com. Speaking of comic books, where can a geek go to buy comics in Clermont? Well, as luck would have it, we have several shops in town to #GetchaGeekOn. Subscribe to your favorite comics and support local shop owners. Check ’em out in the GetchaGeekOn hashtag on Instagram. This privately owned store is located beside Epic Theatres at Clermont Landing. (You may remember it’s former location, where it opened in May 2016 inside the Rabbit’s Hole Book Store in downtown Clermont.) Mike and friends do a great job of getting rare collectibles, comics, trading cards, action figures and statues in stock and on display. Mike also is a 3D sculpt artist, and you

can purchase his original Batman, Deadpool and other famed character sculpts at the shop. Be sure to ask about game nights, especially MAGIC! Just a few months ago, this comic book shop opened by Home Depot on the northwest corner of Highway 50 and Citrus Tower Boulevard. One of nine locations in Florida, Coliseum Clermont carries all your favorites, from classic back issues to the newest releases, as well as a great selection of toys, board games, CCGs, statues, posters, T-shirts and all other manner of comic collectibles. Be sure to say hello to Daniel, who runs the front desk!

Next up, a newer shop is just getting established directly beside the Citrus Tower and near Irish Trails Farm & Pet Supply. But it already has a plethora of novelties to offer. Keeping in tradition with current comics, subscriptions and statues, Windu’s Comics offers more retro items like vintage ’70s, ’80s and ’90s nostalgia figures and memorabilia. Definitely a must for any comic or science fiction enthusiast.

Also, for things even more awesomely nerdy, check out Clermont’s comic book podcast called “POPXcast,” hosted by yours truly, Joseph Burke. POPX for short, is a geek culture podcast that covers all the basics, like comic books, superhero films, science fiction, video games and beyond. The show even hosts celebrity guests, which previously included Jordan Woods-Robinson, of AMC’s The Walking Dead, who portrayed the role of Eric the past three seasons. Check out our live stream schedules and upcoming shows. Stay geeky, Clermont, and share your comic enthusiasm with us!



Best Places to Host Kids’ Birthday Parties

They take care of set up and clean up.Staff members provide guided instruction for each project. All project materials are provided and each guest will leave with a beautiful work of their own. “They do a great job of getting the kids back in touch with their crafty side and off of the electronics! You can take your food, cake, presents etc and they will clean up all the mess for you too.” – Alexa Arvanitis

By Sascha Mills & Kathryn Deen

Lake Louisa State Park

Did you know that the month of September takes the cake for the most birthdays of the year? Pretty impressive! In fact, Sept. 9 is the most common birth date in our country. (You can check how common your birthday is here.) That means a whole lot of birthday parties are happening this month! We polled our readers on Facebook last month to find out the best places to host your kids’ birthday parties. Here’s what we found, in alphabetical order:

Hammer & Stain Hammer & Stain offers an incredible opportunity for your child and friends to create a DIY project. One of the best parts, the mess is not in your home! The projects are unique and stylish, great for the birthday boy or girl! A few things offered:

Birthday parties at Lake Louisa are a breeze to plan and are sure to thrill your little adventurer, especial when you add a pony rides and paint-a-pony to your party! This will be a party your little one will never forget. Options for colors, games, and food can be customized to meet your needs.

My Swim School My Swim School offers a private pool with access to a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom in a private home. Open May-October. There are several packages for info call (631) 4WE-SWIM.

Park Pals Clermont has a few fun parks, but Palatlakaha River Park, known more commonly as Park Pals, is an amazing area! There is a nature walk, large Oak trees, and a climbing maze to challenge the little adventurers. There are bathroom facilities, picnic tables and a large pavilion. Like other Clermont parks, pavilions m are on a first-come, first-serve basis. “Oh, there’s plenty of parking. Brand new playgrounds, it is handicap accessible with swings for physically challenged kids. There’s also electricity to charge phones

or play music. Clean bathrooms. Beautiful views and a great board walk!” – Jessica Monroig

Plaster Cottage Plaster Cottage was very popular in the recommendations and had lots of great reviews. Noted as one of the easy parties to plan. They have no minimum number of guests. They request an estimate on your number of guests invited, yet you only pay for those who attend. Give them a call if you have any question at (352) 536-9946. “Plaster Cottage!!! Hands down!!! Such a peaceful, no stress, experience for me. They were wonderful. Everything for the craft was all set up when we got there, they kept the kids moving along with their crafts, handled transitioning to food/cake, got everyone out on time, and then cleaned up the crafting mess. It was awesome!!!!” – Gina Marie

Totland A sweet little place, Totland comes highly recommended for those little under 5 years old looking to celebrate their party. Room for up to 14 friends, plus birthday kid. For September and October, they are offering free face painting with any party package. Socks are required for all guests going into the play area. Full package includes personalized decorations and food.

Waterfront Park

Sky Zone Sky Zone has a bunch of exciting options: a freestyle jump area, ultimate dodgeball, toddler zone, and new attractions including the warrior course, freeclimb, foamzone, skyslam, fusion ultimate dodgeball and a warped wall. Birthday parties start at $28 per person (includes Papa Johns or Chickfil-a) with a minimum of 10 jumpers. (352) 404-4134. “There are upstairs party rooms with a view of the all new park and also Glow party rooms with black light. In one Glow room the floor even glows!” – Beckee Van Wagner

This one is another beautiful spot. With large swings, open white sand, a playground, a lake swimming area and the Splash Pad, Waterfront Park is a gem location for a party. There are pavilions with tables, (first-come, first-serve unless you rent the Splash Pad) and restroom facilities that include showers to rinse off the sand or lake water. Happy birthday to our many September babies! Hope you have incredible celebrations. We would love to hear from you. Where’s the best birthday party you’ve been to in Clermont?


Lake Louisa Illustration by Gabi Zuniga 35


Lucky Us!

Clermont Gets a Lucky’s Market.

Organic, Affordable Groceries + Cafe Coming our Way By Kathryn Deen

Organic and affordable. That’s what it’s all about at Clermont’s highly anticipated new grocery store, Lucky’s Market. The specialty chain opens Wed., March 7 with the grand opening fanfare of a 10 a.m. bacon cutting ceremony and a presentation of over 10K in grants to local charities. Lucky’s opens March 7 in Clermont. Lucky’s replaced Sweetbay at 1720 E. Highway 50 (in the Home Depot Plaza on the northwest corner of Highway 50 and Citrus Tower Boulevard.) Store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. In case you missed it, Clermont Magazine went live on Facebook with an exclusive sneak peek inside the store with manager Bob Knaus on Feb. 27. “Lucky’s Market takes the price out of natural foods, and we are happy to bring more natural and organic

food at affordable prices to people in the growing Orlando-area,” Bob said. The novelty of being able to drink while you shop is just one of many appeals of the 30,000-square-foot store — the second Lucky’s in the Orlando area. You can relax with a $2 draft beer or $3 wine, get a pick-me-up coffee on nitro or fuel up with kombucha on tap fresh juice or a smoothie. A cafe has indoor and outside seating, live music and games. Made-to-order ramen and a sushi bar add more exciting options.But wait, there’s more! Like an extensive meat section, fresh seafood a deli with salads and pizzas ready a large selection of local produce and a bakery. Lucky’s is known for its signature in-house smoked bacon, a variety of house-made sausages and other “never ever” meats — not treated with antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. We can smell the bacon already! A bulk section includes gourmet coffee beans, organic flour, trail mix and natural gummy bears. You can grind-your-own nut butters and dispense your own honey and vinegar. The Apothecary department features a bulk DIY wall where people can buy supplies to make their own teas, salves, tinctures, healing elixirs and more. In addition to local soaps, candles, and salt lamps, customers will find natural remedies and mainstream medicines for common ailments, including CBD oil products. As for the groceries, expect to find your favorite organic brands, as well as a ton of Lucky’s

brand items, including Bob’s favorites, Ginger Snaps and Coconut Water. Wondering about coupons? You can download the Lucky’s Rewards app.And in case you’re in the market for a job, the store will employ about 150 people, and Lucky’s is still hiring. Additional Central Florida stores are planned to open later this year in Winter Park, Hunter’s Creek/ Kissimmee and the SoDo District in downtown Orlando. Lucky’s started in 2003 in Boulder, Colorado. Their slogan is “Organic for the 99%,” meaning most of the products are organic with a small selection of conventional staple items like Cheerios, Campbells soup and Coca-Cola. Lucky’s makes a point to support local non-profits. Opening day donations will go to The FAITH Neighborhood Center to provide free healthy meals to kids during summer breaks; and Hope CommUnity Center to supply classroom and education materials for its Adelante Caminantes and MOMS English & Literacy programs. Lucky’s makes a point to support local non-profits. Opening day donations will go to The FAITH Neighborhood Center to provide free healthy meals to kids during summer breaks; and Hope CommUnity Center to supply classroom and education materials for its Adelante Caminantes and MOMS English & Literacy programs. Happy shopping!



Q+A with Upcoming Amish Pretzel Shop

Food truck to open first storefront this Summer in Clermont. By Kathryn Deen Would you like your pretzel stuffed with philly cheese steak or pepperoni pizza? Those will be among the decadent options at a new pretzel shop opening this summer in Clermont. You may have seen Amish Pretzel Shop’s food truck tootling around Central Florida. But you won’t have to chase them down once they open their first storefront on Oct. 11 in Clermont Landing. You’ll find the 1,200-square-foot pretzel haven at 2409 S. Highway 27, next to Epic Theatres and between Cedar Grill and Painting with a Twist. Power couple Krissy and Matt Lee are taking on the venture. Co-owner Krissy dished out all the details on the shop with Clermont Magazine.

Q. First things first. What will be on the menu? We will have a variety of Soft Pretzels, Stuffed Pretzel Sandwiches and traditional sweet treats called Whoopie Pies. Our Soft Pretzel selections include Classic Butter and Salt, Cinnamon and Sugar, Sweet and Salty, and Garlic Parm. For our Stuffed Pretzel Sandwiches, you will have the option of a Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Pretzel, a Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Pretzel and we will also have a monthly special featuring a new flavor each month.We will also have a line of Iced Coffee and a variety of Whoopie Pies with featured flavors for this sweet treat as well. Q. I’m salivating. How about pricing? Our traditional Amish Treats will range from around $3 to $7. Q. Nice. What will your hours be? We are anticipating to be open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Q. Note taken. So, why is Clermont Landing the perfect location? We feel we will be able to feed lots of hungry pretzel lovers on the go. Our Food Truck has exceeded our wildest dreams and what we noticed is that people want great homemade food and they want it fast. We deliver on this. Q. Congrats! What will the shop be like? We will have a few tables and chairs for our customers to enjoy, but this location will be primarily a take out style restaurant with very limited seating. But there is nothing better than a hot fresh buttered soft pretzel whether you’re on the go or have a minute to stay.The decor will take you to Amish Country. We will have a rustic farmhouse feel with a lot of Amish accents and inspirations. We want you to enjoy the goodness of the food while also sharing the beauty of the Amish culture, but yes, we will have lights and air conditioning. Q. Sounds charming. Who’s your target audience? We believe we are a food for all generations

and our Food Truck has proven this time and time again. Winning multiple Food Truck Wars and Food Truck Battles, our product undoubtedly appeals to people of all ages and generations. Q. Everyone loves pretzels! So, what was your inspiration for the company? I grew up Amish and still have family who are Amish. This is a traditional Amish Soft Pretzel recipe. I grew up enjoying these delectable treats. The Amish people as a whole have a reputation of doing things with excellence and quality, and rightly so, and we want to continue that reputation and provide quality soft pretzels with excellence. It has been a dream of ours for many years to have a Soft Pretzel Food Truck, but it always seemed like something unattainable. However, after many years and even more “Pretzel Parties” and lots of encouragement from family and friends, we decided to pursue our dream. We took a major risk and a giant leap of faith and many hours of hard work, but here we are with an award winning food truck and new shop on the horizon. Q. Very special! What’s your ultimate goal? Our dream for the future is to one day have this store support us on the mission field. (My husband and I) actually met 12 years ago in Guatemala while I was teaching at an orphanage school, and we would love to be able to continue giving back to those in need and to the children and people of Guatemala. That’s incredible. We look forward to supporting you.

Dreamplex Reaches for the Stars

The special needs rec center announced its plans to expand at its recent gala.

Story by Sascha Mills Central Florida Dreamplex is so much more than a recreation and fitness center. It’s a beautiful mission field that brings wellness, community and athletics to those with special needs. Or, as they describe it, “Ordinary sports for extraordinary people.” Research shows that getting out, getting active and getting involved can increase overall wellness and prosperity. But Amy Gomes recognized what a challenge that can be for many with disabilities. Stepping into the home-based pediatric physical therapy business in 1991 opened her eyes to the matter. She sadly watched some of her clients grow into adulthood isolated, unemployed and sedentary. This struck a cord with her heart. In 2009, she established the 501(c)(3) Central Florida Pediatric Therapy Foundation as a home-based therapy providing speech, occupational and physical therapy. During this time, Amy’s son, Cameron Gomes, was working at Lockheed Martin and sought a more fulfilling and purpose-driven career. Together, Amy and Cameron developed the idea of bringing a fitness center to Clermont that would cater to those with special needs. Cameron publicly thanked his mother for turning their idea into a reality during his speech at the sixth annual Dreamplex Gala in September at the Clermont Performing Arts Center. In early 2010, the Central Florida Dreamplex became an umbrella LLC of the Central Florida Pediatrics Therapy Foundation and moved in 2015 to its current facility, 2400 S. Highway 27 Suite B201 at the top of the Clermont Hillside Terrace, near Graffiti Junktion, Arthur Murray and The Dream Academy, which partners with the Dreamplex for after school activities. The Central Florida Dreamplex offers an amazing array of activities. Besides the aforementioned after school program, the facility has arts and crafts, nerf archery, gymnastics and cheerleading, cardio boxing, Tae Kwon Do and various dance activities including ballet, hip

hop, ballroom-style and Zumba. Many parents are thrilled to have this opportunity in the community, such as the Harper family, who lives within 10 minutes of the facility. Another proud parent, Sarah Klosterman, raved about her daughter Kylie’s involvement with the Central Florida Dreamplex. Kylie began therapy at 3 months old and began sports with The Central Florida Dreamplex at age 3, having now participated in cheerleading for two seasons. Sarah noted that Kylie has grown immensely with the Dreamplex staff’s effort to see her succeed. “Every child of all abilities is welcomed. The pure joy on the children’s faces when they finally get to participate in activities is priceless. Everyone should be included no matter what challenges they face, and the Dreamplex embraces that and makes everyone feel like family.” Sarah said. It is not surprising that the Dreamplex is quickly outgrowing its current location. However, they have found partners in the community. For instance, Dreamplex utilizes Real Life Church’s gym for basketball practice and Montverde Academy’s fields for soccer practice. The organization continues to expand its activities for those with physical disabilities. These are considered adaptive sports, which J. Nicholas Pierre knows a thing or two about. Continued at


Q+A with Suncreek Brewery's Owner Bill Downs talks timeline, location + what’s on tap. By Kathryn Deen Raise your glasses! Let’s drink to Clermont’s new brewery. The highly anticipated Suncreek Brewery is scheduled to open on Sept. 18 in a newly constructed building in Downtown Clermont, at 790 W. Minneola Ave., next to Main Event Bar & Grill (formerly Wallace Grill). We sat down with owner Bill Downs to quench our curiosity about the new brewery and tap room. Bill brings several years of brewing experience to Suncreek, which will be an integral part of the City’s revitalization plan. Here’s what he had to say. First things first. When will Suncreek Brewery open? Hopefully by the end of June or early July 2018. Now that the building is under construction we’re feeling better about the schedule, but we’ve learned not to commit to dates just yet. Everyone is doing their best to get open as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can try our beer at local events. We’ll be at the Central Florida Brewers Guild Beer Festival Feb. 3 in Sanford, and the DeLand Beer Festival on Feb. 10 in DeLand. We’re thirsty! What will be on tap at Suncreek? Mostly ales and and a few lagers — IPAs, blonde ales, stouts… A lot of it’s going to be focused around citrus/orange and honey. There are going to be at least seven standard beers and then some

seasonal offerings. With all of our beers, we try to brew toward the middle of the road with slight variations off of center. If you like a beer in that style, you should like ours. Awesome. What styles do you do best? The IPA and the stout. Our Moonlight Chocolate Milk Stout is a popular one. It’s one of my favorites. Hey There Sunshine is a New England IPA, and Sun Squishy IPA is full of Citra and Belma hops. Anything off the beaten path? We’ll have some crazy stuff in the smaller batches. We’ll offer a few whiskey-, rum- or tequila-barrel-aged beers — whatever we can get our hands on. We’re also experimenting now with some sours, such as a Berliner Weisse with fruit additions, like sour apple, strawberry, apricot and rhubarb. That’s exciting. Do your beers err on the lighter or boozier side? ABVs (Alcohol By Volume) range from low 4s to 8 and a few barrel-aged brews are in the 10-percent range. We’re focusing toward the low-ABV, more sessionable beers in the 4 to 6 percent range. We want to let people enjoy themselves and still get home safely. We hope to have arrangements with Uber and Lyft when we open. Good idea. Will you have any guest taps? We’ll have a few guest taps and we’ll get a few popular brews from other local Central Florida Breweries and a few from around the state. What sizes can we order? We’ll serve pints, flights, growlers and crowlers. Pints will be from $5 to $7. For here and to-go! Any offerings beyond beer? We’re looking at cider, wine, local craft coffee, and maybe craft soda on guest taps. Keep us posted. So what will the place be like? It’s roughly 4,800 square feet between two floors. Our concept is based on showing people as much of the brewing process as possible. We’ll have a mezzanine that goes around two sides of the brewing floor so people will be able to walk around and see and smell nearly everything we’re doing down there. We have an initial

mix of three 15-barrel and two 7-barrel fermentation tanks with room for three additional 15 barrel fermenters later. When fully maxed out, we will have about 105 barrels of fermentation space. The style is industrial. We’ll have a reclaimed wood back wall at the bar, some brick along the bar and to accent behind the draft tower. We’ll also have dog-friendly patio seating. We can see it now! Any plans for entertainment? We’ll have a space for it. We are in talks with a few entertainers. We’re thinking about having live music twice a week, probably Fridays and Saturdays. Fun, fun. Tell us about your neighbors in the new building. We’re going to have Michael’s Ali Coal Fired Pizza next to us, along with Savoree, both from Winter Garden. Savoree has hand-crafted salads and sandwiches, and both are going to bring something special to their new Clermont locations. We hear that Michael’s Ali is building out their menu for the location. We’ll be three separate businesses with no walls between us and a shared patio, like Crooked Can is part of Plant Street Market in Winter Garden. Our seating capacity is around 150 total, about 82-86 seats inside; the whole building can hold roughly 300.

Sounds like you’ll be in good company. Why was Clermont the right location for Suncreek? I had the idea to open our first brewery in the Clermont area about four years ago… Then the director of Economic Development mentioned this new building coming downtown and that the developer was looking to turn it into something special. The City’s economic development team presented the master plan to us and how we could fit into it. We were then convinced that downtown was the perfect place for Suncreek. What sets this location up for success? I think it’s the City’s support and enthusiasm to the project — both City Hall and the citizens — that set us up for success. The City wants to turn Downtown Clermont into something different and exciting that would draw people there, so we are one of the first parts of that. There’s a lot more coming! What they’re doing down here is going to be great for us. We now have a spur off of the trail (“Legacy Loop”) coming up right past the brewery. We’ll also have City street parking and a parking lot right across the street. I believe the City is also considering bike racks near our building. Plus, they allow open containers downtown in a special city approved cup. What’s Downtown Clermont like now and how do you see it changing?

It’s kind of sleepy right now. That was one of the concerns. But they’re condensing a 10-year plan into just three, and as that progresses you’re going to see a lot more people coming for dinner and then staying down here, as opposed to going elsewhere. Clermont in three or four years is going to look a lot different than it does now — for the better. A lot of people are moving to this area, many from Orlando, kind of escaping to this side of town. How does the brewery work into the City’s Downtown revitalization plan? Breweries are novelties right now. A lot of people are attracted to them. Suncreek should attract younger people Downtown. Millennials are our largest demographic, but craft beer crosses all demographics. People want something with a local connection to it. Craft beer brings a lot of people together who probably wouldn’t otherwise find themselves in the same establishment. It’s neutral ground. More about you. When did you start brewing? I started brewing beer in college around 1992. My first batch was a brown ale from a kit. It wasn’t very good. I think everybody’s first batch is a brown ale. What got you into beer? When I was 16, I moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, about 10 blocks from the Yuengling Brewery. Once I turned 21, we took the tour — a lot. So that was where the interest comes from.I attended Penn State for computer science, but left to start an Internet Service Provider with a friend before graduating. Eventually I relocated down to Florida for a job in 2001. My soon to be wife (and co-owner), Shelia moved down here shortly after that. I began brewing again on and off for around 12 years. About four years ago, we got serious about it and bought a small batch system to produce in a semi-professional way that we could duplicate on a bigger system. What inspired the name Suncreek? We’ve had several names but we always wanted something to tie in with Florida — so “sun” was always part of it, and as for “creek” — I do a lot of mud runs, Tough Mudders and things like that. The original decision to open the brewery was during a Tough Mudder in Kissimmee a few years ago. After these races, they usually give you a beer or two and usually it’s a Dos Equis or Miller Lite or something not very satisfying for a craft beer drinker after you’ve just raced. So as we were wading upstream in a creek, we said we have to start a brewery and sponsor one of these races so we can have our own beer at the end. It was kind of a joke at first. Now, one of my intentions is to sponsor a mud run. Too cool! We’ll be in touch as your opening date gets closer.


ADVICE & IDEAS Humor Column: Weiner’s Circle

A Dog’s Big Day at the Daschund Derby By Rod Thorell

This is a story about a dog race. Well, more about a particular dog. So first things first. We own dachshunds. Perhaps “own” is far too strong a word. We share a home with them. That is to say, they live in our house, we feed them, bathe them, clean up after they go to the bathroom and they, in turn, will allow us to have a corner of a king-sized bed on which to sleep. Part of the services they provide in exchange are to wildly bark whenever they sense that someone, somewhere within a 16-mile radius has made a noise and to swiftly and completely clean up any food that may be dropped on the floor. At the risk of getting technical, although he is a purebred, Gusgus is not a “standard” doxie (this is what people who love dachshunds call the breed). This proud breed was developed in Germany for the purpose of hunting badgers and killing them in their underground lairs, so says the American Kennel Club. Their short paws and long bodies are suited for digging and chasing animals through burrows. Gusgus is a mini (meaning anything under 11 pounds), but instead of the stubby little legs of his ancestors, his legs are long for his size. He would not be allowed in any doxie beauty pageant. And certainly if he were to enter a badger den, I am sure any badgers present would make short work of him.But his legs give him the ability to run. Fast. Which is why we felt confident when we entered him in his first-ever race, the Dachshund Derby, sponsored by the Pink Bow Foundation — which supplies hygiene kits to homeless teenagers — held as part of the Spring Flower Festival downtown. Nothing about these furry little tubes says “dash” and many Florida doxies have big bellies that rub the ground. Gusgus is a sleek and wiry little dog, perfect for racing. The dogs were placed in heats of four, with the top two moving on through the brackets until eventually a winner would be crowned. How happy we would be for Gusgus! Well, and us. Here he would represent our family to the world, showing them what we were really about.

The racetrack was set, a 50-foot ring of dark plastic sheeting, with a box at one end that held four separate containers for dogs, the front made of steel mesh gates. When the start of the race was called, a wooden bar was pulled and all the gates at the front opened, with the dogs careening toward their excited owners at the finish line. Finally, we got the call for dog No. 10 to participate in his first race. My job was to have Gusgus all excited to get his heart pumping before going in the cage. “You can do it buddy!” “Who’s a good boy!” “Who’s a good boy!” “Go run and see us!” By the time I placed him in the starting box, he was so worked up we were sure that he would rocket straight to the finish.All the dogs were in. They announced the start of the race. They threw open the gate… And they’re off! Well, not so much. One wanted his dad, so he turned around and jumped up on a bale of hay. Another looked through the crowd, trying desperately to find mom, while mom was at the other end screaming her name.

A third decided that life inside the starting gates wasn’t so bad. He was just gonna cuddle up in there for a bit. Gusgus stared out from the box like a nervous toddler on his first day at the playground. Predictable start. You see, more than most dogs, dachshunds are funny little animals. Bred with the killer instinct, yet longing to cuddle into bed with someone. They are social animals. If they had opposable thumbs and speech, they would have their own fraternities (with an auxiliary for the lady dogs), complete with funny hats and a constant zeal for community service (which would probably involve licking up spilled food all around the city and, presumably, protecting against badger attacks). Every human or dog they meet is greeted with exuberance — jumping, licking, sniffing and the like. They bombard you like a horde of bees when you enter our home, all flickering tongues and wiggly butts, their tails moving faster than can be detected by the human eye. What they don’t do is cope with crowds of people shouting instructions. Eventually, Gusgus and the dog who wanted his dad finally realized that their owners were at the other end screaming for them. They jogged, then sorta ran to the end. Gusgus came in second. His day was not over. A second heat went in similar fashion and then a third, although each time the running portion began a little sooner. And Gusgus was winning! Finally, some vindication! We had a fast dog here! We were confident and giddy as they announced the lineup for the finals. The finals! Our little Gusgus was going to race for victory! All the finalists were in the starting gates.They announced the start of the race.The gate was thrown open and they began sprinting and Gusgus, OUR Gusgus was ahead of the other three dogs! Finally, a victory for our family in a year that has often felt like a string of defeats! Until…As I said, dachshunds are extremely social animals. Although they seem silly and capricious, there is a strong sense of social order and norms. One of the first things a doxie will do upon a new person or dog entering the home is to greet the person or dog vigorously. Doesn’t matter if they are brand new or have known them all their life, they are greeted with sniffs and licks, fluttering around the new arrival like hummingbirds. This explains why, about 3 feet from the finish line, something struck Gusgus. Gusgus committed the dachshund social faux paw — err, pas — of not properly greeting this dog beside him, so he decided that he must now turn to sniff a butt. On the

cusp of what would have been our family’s greatest victory in the new millennium, he realized there were unfamiliar back ends within schnoz distance. And he needed to rectify that. Right away. Gusgus followed the dog over the finish line. They became friends. And our family dreams of victory were gone in an instant.Mind you, it was not so much the loss of a victory that hurt, but the way it transpired. If he had tripped or was bumped away or even soundly beaten by a dog of such superior speed and skill that he had no chance, that would be easier to accept. Our chance for a shining moment in the sun, a sterling triumph in our new adopted hometown, taken down by a fragrant backside. As he trotted back to us, I made sure he knew the old saying; “second place is the first loser.” Gusgus has recovered his place of honor in the family and immensely enjoys the large rawhide bone and water bowl he won as second prize, sharing it with his adopted brother, Foster. You can follow Gusgus on Instagram @CallMeGusgus or find him in a pile of clean laundry still warm from the dryer. And surely he’ll be training for next year’s race — no ifs, ands or butts about it.


What’s Way Better than the Keto Diet? By Jamie Rametta

Recently, the ketogenic diet has been getting lots of attention — and in my professional opinion, way too much of a following. With a diet high in saturated fat and low in carbs and fiber, there’s good reason to be concerned about getting high cholesterol down the road on the keto diet. However, so many people are jumping on board because of all the media attention. Carbohydrates actually are not bad — they are good for us if we incorporate the right ones healthfully. Among the carbs that nourish us are fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains like quinoa and oats, and legumes including beans, peas and lentils. (Processed carbs like enriched crackers, cookies, high-sugar cereals — not so much.) You may be wondering then, “What diet do you recommend?” Drum roll, please…The Mediterranean diet. Many reputable sources endorse this heart-healthy diet, including Mayo Clinic and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. So, what’s on the table with a Mediterranean diet? Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, olive oil and fish are the mainstays.

Herbs and spices are used to flavor foods. Fermented dairy (such as yogurt), cheese, chicken, and eggs are included in moderate portions. Beverages are water and wine. (Note: For those of age who choose to drink, moderation is defined as up to one drink/day for women and up to two drinks/day for men.) It’s more of a way of life than a diet. And being physically active and lingering over meals are part of that. Although I’ve been enjoying Mediterranean food for a long time, I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience it firsthand while I was on my honeymoon in Santorini, Greece. The food was so fresh and delicious… I dream about it daily. In Greece, we walked to our meals from our hotel — climbing steps and tackling inclines. We lingered over our food — eating slowly, savoring flavors, and engaging in great conversation. The restaurant owners were proud of their dishes and told us about their preparation with fondness. It all tasted so fresh. The tomatoes were the best we’ve ever had. Then there was the warm pita, the cool tzatziki with herbs and the variety of seafood… We even watched

a fisherman bring his fresh catch through the restaurant one night. Our favorite dishes were the seafood soup, rice-based grape leaves Greek salads Greek yogurt parfaits pita and hummus and chicken gyros. So, if you’re looking to improve your health, perhaps you can take a page out of Greece’s book. And if it’s all Greek to you, I recommend that you check out the Oldways website. It’s a comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the Mediterranean diet with research supporting the lifestyle, grocery lists, menus and more to empower you on your food journey. (Of course, it’s always a good idea to see a registered dietitian, too.)

“ .”(“Let’s eat!”)



Rediscover the Breath: the Great Alleviator of Anxiety By Penny Amann

When stress levels are high, it can seem just about impossible to breathe. The chest becomes tight and constricted, the shoulders are clenched, and the abdomen is rigid. Breathing is choppy, shallow and difficult. This is opposite from the effortlessly smooth, rhythmic breath that we experience in moments of calm. However, for those struggling with chronic anxiety and worry, tension and strain in the breath can start to seem normal. Breathing exercises that focus on smooth, longer inhales and exhales can alleviate such patterns of restriction in the body, and in turn bring some ease to the mind. In fact, when done correctly, mindful breathing has been found to be one of the best alleviators of anxiety and can restore a sense of harmony and relaxation in the body. One of the symptoms that all sufferers of anxiety share is that the inhale is rarely drawn below the sternum, aka shallow breathing. For years I suffered with insomnia, some depression and lots of anxiety attacks and even went down the path of panic attacks a few times. What I never realized was that my breath was so shallow during these times. It got to a point that this shallow breath was always with me, and in a sense, I forgot how to breath. I would band-aid these anxiety and panic attacks with lots of prescriptions for anxiety. The medication would temporarily calm me down, but sometimes coming off the medication would worsen my symptoms. My doctor recommended yoga for years, and finally I listened to him. It wasn’t until I stepped into my first yoga class that I actually paid attention to my breathing. And the first few classes that I had to focus on my breath, I really became a bit more agitated. My lungs weren’t used to having oxygen deep into the lower lung lobes. Think of a muscle that you haven’t stretched in a long time. When

you begin to stretch it out or exercise it, it will be a little (or a lot) tight. Over time, the muscle responds, stretching, lengthening and becoming more flexible. It was the same way with my lungs. Those first few rounds of deep breathing into my unused, tight lower lungs was not easy. But quickly in the course of a short time, my lungs expanded more easily, and began to feel my whole body sigh with relief when I deeply breathed. And the anxiety attacks slowly went away. With the help and guidance of my doctor, I slowly went off all my prescriptions for depression, anxiety and insomnia. I learned the healing power of my own breath.

Let’s take a look at some physical facts. Deeper breathing… Trains you to respond better to stress. Moving from the sympathetic nervous system (the place of fight or flight/cortisol-releasing state) into the parasympathetic nervous system. Slow breathing helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system or the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system. When deep breathing is practiced over longer periods of time (1 to 2 minutes twice a day, every day, for example) the parasympathetic nervous system is strengthened, and over time you will naturally fall into deep, relaxed breath when stressful situations arise. Relaxes the body. Deep, smooth breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, and this structure connects the brain with other parts of the body, slowing down the heart rate to bring calmness throughout your body.

Taps into the full capacity of our lungs. Release abdominal tightness. We naturally hold tightness in our abdomens when we are stressed. But too much of this restricts the flow of breath deep into the lungs. Through deeper breathing, we learn to relax the belly, allowing for the lungs to expand fully. Helps us let go of fear and negative thinking. Stress and anxiety make it impossible to function in the present. When we are in a constant state of fear (worrying about possible future outcomes) or anxiety about the past (the would-have, could-have, should-have state of thinking) we are not here in this present moment. Breathing is a proven way to reconnect with the here and now, and let go of some things that may be out of your control. Now, for the surprisingly easy how-to exercise on deep breathing: Find yourself in a comfortable sitting position, with a long spine. Maybe you have a wall behind you. (If you round the spine, you are constricting your lungs, so roll your shoulders back and open the front body). If you prefer, lie down long on your back. Softly close the eyes. Now gently place one hand on your belly, and one hand on your chest right around the sternum area. Take a long, slow inhale to the count of 4 in through the nose and pause for a second or 2 without closing the throat. Now, exhale slowly through the nose for a count of 5, pausing at the bottom of the exhale for a second or 2 without constricting the throat. Each time you inhale, really expand the belly like a balloon, each time you exhale, the belly naturally contracts. Do five or six rounds of this deep belly-breath, and then allow the breath to come back into a natural state, and just observe your response. When you are ready, either practice another few rounds of deep breath, or simply end the practice. Do this twice a day, preferably before the anxiety begins but

whenever you feel that tightness of anxiety creeping into your body. Notice over time that your body will naturally go into this breathing technique when stressful situations pop up. You can eventually expand this process to 20 minutes or more, but even a handful of rounds of deep-belly breath are enough to start to alleviate anxiety immediately. I hope I have shed some new light on the old “just breathe� saying. Remember this: Right here, right now, in this present moment, you are right where you are supposed to be. So just breathe.




Do a quick Internet search on fear and you’ll find ton of motivational quotes saying “fear is a liar,” books about “how to conquer your fear,” and endless “fearless” hashtags attached to pictures of beautiful people. For so long, the mainstream message on fear has been all about how you can get rid of it. But, what if I told you that fear is actually your friend? Fears are clues, placed in your life like a breadcrumb trail, guiding and pushing you to grow and pay attention to your deepest longings. You are fearful when you’re out of our comfort zone and when you don’t know how things will work out. But, if you follow your fears and allow them come to the surface of your daily life, you take away their power to haunt you. Bottom line, if you’re scared, it’s well worth your time to take a closer look. Read on for 5 simple reasons on why you should start following your fears instead of running away from them.

5 REASONS TO FOLLOW YOUR FEAR You’ll create more happiness and fun in your life. Fears can actually serve you in a positive way if you ask yourself why you’re afraid. Likely, it will lead you to learn what’s holding you back from having more passion and fun. Make a list of five to 10 things you’re scared of and see if a handful of them are things you actually really want. It teaches you how to roll with the punches. When you make a habit of facing your fears, it builds a strong muscle for adapting to changes with ease. When challenges come up – like losing a job, going through a breakup, or missing out on a promotion you thought you deserved – you can learn to breathe and have curiosity about the next opportunity coming your way instead of freaking out about why things didn’t go as you planned. The death of one thing is always the birth of another. It hurts more to run away from your fears than to face them.

The experience of fear itself is usually most intense before you get around to facing it. More times than not, the stuck, panicky and sweaty feelings all happen in the moments leading up to the experience. As soon as you take the first steps, you are face-to-face with fear as an old friend, and the exhilaration of facing it becomes more powerful than the fear itself. It’s the buildup that holds all the tension. You’ll realize that you’re stronger and more confident than you think. Keep going and decide to take action in spite of your terrified moments. If you can be willing to trust that something beautiful and exciting is on the other side of whatever you’re scared of, it will help you find the courage to face it. Take the first step and you might just be surprised at how tough you are. You’ll start making your dreams come true. Most of your biggest fears are likely terrifying because they’re super important to you. For example, I used to be very shy and scared to speak up for myself or have my voice heard. But when I started facing those fears, I realized I was so scared because writing, teaching, and sharing my stories are my biggest passions. Try spending just a little more time getting curious about why you’re afraid. Whatever your biggest fears are, they inevitably will run your life, whether in subtle or drastic ways, until you give in and pay attention to them. Following your fears won’t be easy. It will be scary, messy and uncomfortable. You won’t become fearless. You will lift up the covers on your insecurities. But, it all will be worth it. You will amplify growth, surprise and passion in your life. You’ll probably release so much tension that you won’t recognize yourself once you get started. It will be awesome. This article features excerpts from Laurel Moll’s memoir Following Fear: How I Faced 30 Fears and Learned to Trust the Unknown. Find out more and download the e-book at www.


“I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.”–Pete Townshend

By Amelia Stolarz Our plastic consumption certainly has become a hot-button topic. Recently, some major corporations have gotten the memo about the trending feelings on plastic. Straws may be becoming taboo. Starbucks, Aramark and American Airlines announced that they will stop offering straws. McDonald’s said it will reduce its straw distribution. Hashtags like #SkiptheStraw are going viral, and some people are pledging to give them up for good. Entire cities are even banning straws. Just think of the amount of plastic used on straws alone. Take one restaurant in your city. They usually give at least one straw to each customer. Multiply that by the number of restaurants in your city, then by the number of cities in your state, then by the number of states and you get the picture of straws used in just one day in the U.S. It’s mind boggling to think about, but the average American uses more than 38,000 straws in their lifetime. Yet if offered the choice, 50 to 80 percent of customers would decline a straw, reports the National Park Service. I’ve tried asking for my beverage sans the straw, but the habit is so ingrained in the wait staff, it always comes out with the straw…until yesterday at Outback Steakhouse when my husband ordered his beverage without ice and I added that I’d have mine without the straw. The server was clearly delighted and said no one has asked that before. I’m already seeing some progress. Last week, I was at two different restaurants that used paper straws. Hooray for them. A recent newspaper article told of a Florida restaurant using pasta as straws (Celiacs beware). I love it. The next time you order a beverage at a restaurant, ask for it without the straw and let us know what happens.Of course, straws aren’t the only problem. Years ago, the exit question at my favorite grocery store was, “Paper or plastic?” The best answer would be… neither. When plastic bags first were introduced at grocery stores, many customers resisted, so they gave us the courtesy of a choice. It’s estimated that a trillion plastic bags are used each year across the globe, and under 5 percent are recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agen-

cy. Perhaps you’ve noticed that plastic bags sneak into your home. Here are some ideas on how you can reuse those bags: Corral the clear plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in into an empty tissue box. Use them to dispose of dirty diapers or pick up after your pet. The plastic bags that fruits and veggies are gathered into in the market make good small wastepaper basket liners. Ziploc-type bags that have been used for food can be rinsed and re-used to cover kitchen faucets when working on a messy cooking project. Use them as a plastic glove when polishing silver or other messy projects. Or use to gather items around the garage or house that need corralling, such as nails or paper clips. I am conscience about my plastic consumption. But it is a work in progress. Sometimes when I go to a restaurant and anticipate leftovers, I tuck my own container into my purse and feel better about leaving the disposable containers behind – a small gesture, but we need to start somewhere. After all, Americans eat out a lot and take home a lot of leftovers. We’ve been spending more money dining out than at home every year since 2014, says the US Department of Agriculture. It seems as though over the last 60 years almost all packaging has been converted to plastic: Toothpaste used to come in a metal tube. Stores sold sodas in glass bottles on which customers paid a deposit; customers later returned the empty bottles for a cash refund.Products like toilet paper and cotton balls were packaged in paper. Yogurt was in paper cups. Berries were in paper containers. Lunch was carried to school in a metal lunchbox with a metal thermos lined in glass. Straws were made of paper. I think we tried to save a tree and planted a plastic jungle instead. What are your thoughts on plastic? Share your tips with us! Remembering The Graduate: “Just one word.. plastics.”


Clermont Magazine - One-Year Anniversary Edition  

Clermont Magazine,, is a monthly digital publication reflecting our thriving community in Clermont, Fla. This issue cel...

Clermont Magazine - One-Year Anniversary Edition  

Clermont Magazine,, is a monthly digital publication reflecting our thriving community in Clermont, Fla. This issue cel...