The Local: Winter Garden—March/April 2024

Page 30

Featuring Chic Shack The Burnses build their haven with Grandma surf-style 38 Road House The Ehlhards’ tales of 10 years living in an RV 52 9 Lives Life blooms on the Putigna family farm 62 TheHomeIssue SPONSOREDBY SoutheastSteel ApplianceWarehouse
Residential & Commercial 407-720-4774 Grills • Louvered Pergolas • Outdoor Kitchens • Motorized Screens Outdoor Furniture • Composite Decks • And more! TRUSTED BRANDS INCLUDE HAMLIN SHOWROOM NOW OPEN! With everything outdoor from total rennovation to the latest grills

Don’t let joint pain or muscle strains keep you from playing pickleball. Our expert physical therapists will create a personalized treatment plan to get you out of pain and back in the game.


The Home Issue

SPONSORED BY Southeast Steel Appliance Warehouse

featuring 38

Chic Shack

From demolition to delight, Mandy and Knox Burns have shaped their space into a surf shack haven.



9 Lives

An Oakland family blooms when growth and love graces their 13 acres.


Close Quarters

For the Elhard Family, home is where you park it.


contents The Home Issue
Minutes from Home. A Lifetime of Healing. Orlando Health offers comprehensive healthcare in west Orange County. From a number of nearby hospitals and medical pavilions, we offer leading-edge cancer care, as well as primary care and specialty physicians, emergency services, diagnostics, imaging and much more. Giving you more reasons to choose well. Orlando Dr. Phillips | Horizon West | MetroWest | Ocoee | Windermere | Winter Garden choose well.
contents The Home Issue departments Chic Shack The Burnses build their haven with Grandma surf-style Road tales of 10 years living in an RV 9 Lives on the Putigna family farm TheHomeIssue SPONSORED SoutheastSteel the cover The Burns family FRED LOPEZ 21 Section Opener 22 Stu Kimball, Southeast Steel Appliance Warehouse 24 Brad & Debra Flora, A1 Aluminium 25 Andrew Wilburn, Safely Softwash 26 Susan Stratton, Toole’s Ace Hardware 28 Chris Sapp, Suzi Karr Realty 29 Al Villamil, Orlando Outdoor Living 30 Kevin Mitchell, Horizon West Roofing 32 Heather Spirazza and Lexi Anderson, Regency Real Estate 34 Larry McNamara, Giant Recreation World 36 Bart Cappabianca, Southeastern Fitness 37 Shelley Dawson, RE/MAX Prime Properties 86 Taste Hop your way through Winter Garden’s craft beer scene. 98 Rhetoric
idiot’s guide to laundry, from an authentic idiot. 20 Tails Stella, The Chihuahua. 72 Oh, Well Caroline sees the world a little di erently. 08 For Starters What’s the right amount of stu to make a house a home? 12 Garden Variety Laura Lynn trades corporate advancement for personal joy. promotional features 18 IQ Portfolios 50 Viewpoint Design and Installation 78 Dr. Manny & Katie Herrera, Horizons OB-GYN & Aesthetics 81 The West Orange Four Chloe Johnson Iliana Jones Sal Ramos Austin Arthur HomePros 6 The Local WINTER GARDEN

For Starters

We often say that stu

doesn’t matter. And, yes, in the grand scheme of things, stu is meaningless. Absolutely. 100 percent.

So as I’ve downscaled my life over the past ve years,it’s been easy to let things go. That couch I used to love—sold. The old books I used to collect—donated. High school yearbooks, college mementos, boxes of pillow covers, throw blankets, clothes with the tags still attached… Gone, gone, gone.

But after living with a man who craves minimalism—Out with the rug! Picture walls are clutter! Windows are art, they don’t need drapes!—I’ve found myself rethinking the idea of stu .

Yes, of course, it’s people and real-life experiences that make life richer, not the things we accumulate. Yet, our home wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the couch to stretch out on or the wall of art to give it personality. It wouldn’t be the same without fresh greenery and stacks of white dishes ready for entertaining. It’s not the stu that makes a home, but what is a home without stu ?

So here’s my renewed outlook: Our homes are here to serve us. They are meant to be a place of comfort, protection and joy. They are where life unfolds, where we welcome others, where we gather and grow. They are the backdrop of our stories and important ones at that.

Ultimately, our homes should be comfortable, safe havens where we genuinely want to spend time and embrace others. Is my house serving me in this way? Is yours? That’s the question that truly matters, and its the idea we’re exploring on the pages of our second annual Home Issue.

The Elhards discovered during their time on the road that the essence of home is not a matter of having a lot or having a little; it’s about deliberately crafting a space that invites experience and connection.

For Mandy and Knox Burns, it’s about intentionally shaping a home that feels authentically like you. One that re ects your style, your needs and is a place where you want to invite others in.

Whether your home is a 13-acre ower farm, a sprawling ranch, a studio apartment, or an RV, creating a home that resonates with your essence is a privilege meant to be savored. It could mean painting your piano, mastering the art of a gallery wall, or investing in a new rug. Whatever your space, ll it with the kind of meaningful touches that leave all inhabitants feeling happy and well-loved.

If you enjoy The Local for free, please consider thanking our advertisers with your support.

Where to look for The Local

In Print

Ace Hardware (Hamlin)

AntiquiTeas @Plant St Market

Axiom Bank Hamlin

Cariera’s Fresh Italian

Driftwood Market

Everything Local (Clermont)

Foxtail Co ee Co.

Gochi Sushi

Home State Brewing Co.

Je ’s Bagel Run

Little Greek @WG Village

Ocoee Taco Company

Orange County Public

Library, Winter Garden

Pammie’s Sammies


Poke by Gochi

Polka Dotz

Puppy Dreams

Rosallie Le French Cafe

Seacoast Bank

Schweini’s Deli

Sweet Dee’s Cupcakery

Thai Blossom

The French Cafe

Three Birds Cafe

Tony’s Liquor

WG Heritage Museum

Writer’s Block Bookstore

YMCA (Roper)

YMCA (Doc Phillips) and more!


Fusing Nature and Art to create inspiring home décor.


18 Awards for editorial and design excellence in just our first two years WINTER GARDEN March/April 2024 Vol. 3 No. 05 ©2024 Em Agency. All rights reserved. Published monthly. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Em Agency. Reader submissions have been edited for length or clarity. Advertising of products does not imply endorsement. Em Agency can not be held liable for the business practices of these companies. 407-573-6061 / @EMagencyinc ADVISORY BOARD EDITORIAL
Anne Lee Editor
Luxemburg Writer
McWaters Writer
Scarbrough Writer
Ontko Art Director
Clark Designer
Mak Designer Rheya Tanner Designer
Lopez Chief Photographer Evan Miklosey Web Kate McDonald Marketing
Arthur Co-CEO Stars and Stripes Marketing Services
Dawson Realtor RE/MAX Prime Properties
Zele Director of Operations Bryan Fifer State Farm Insurance Kirsten Harrington Freelance Writer Becca Lanterman Bradford Owner, Winter Garden Senior Home Care Mark Schmidt New Business Development, Boyer Building Corp. Pam Thomas Owner & Founder, Pammie’s Sammies ADVERTISING
Spooner Account Executive 407-595-4793
Ezra Mark Publisher 352-425-6400
Noboa Account Executive 602-284-1583 10 The Local WINTER GARDEN
Allison E.M. Budnik,Attorney 161 S. Boyd St., Suite 100, Winter Garden 407-499-2082 / Divorce, Paternity, Child Support, Modification

Lady Boss

Laura Lynn trades corporate advancement for personal joy.

In the 2023 Blockbuster Movie, Barbie, the message is clear: women are incredible because they can do anything and be anyone. Laura Lynn is no di erent. From Mom Barbie, Wife Barbie, Sales Barbie, Technology Barbie, and now Business Owner Barbie, Laura is a walking example of determination, zest, and grace. Sometimes, all a woman needs is the opportunity and ability to bloom without constraints. For Laura, being removed from the corporate world


after 25 years was not a setback but a chance to blossom.

Having mastered technology sales with giants like Oracle, CareerBuilder, and Salesforce, Laura faced a layo in early 2023 due to industry challenges.

While most people would feel dread, she embraced the opportunity, viewing it as a liberating moment.

“‘Oh, no!’ turned into ‘Oh,

she did what a lot of women would do to relax and clear their minds: she got a massage. While Laura was there, the idea struck—she could own a wellness spa. “I was laying there, and I was visualizing my ribbon cutting. I was like, this is something I could do. So I left there and I called the corporate o ce. And that was it; the rest is history.”

“My identity was completely tied to my job.”

thank goodness,’” she laughs. “It was freeing. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew that whatever was next would be amazing.”

Even so, the transition was daunting. “My identity was completely tied to my job. It was really hard to detach from the structure I was so engrained in; that cycle of behavior,” she explains. “I felt that the only people that would hire me were technology companies needing salespeople, and I didn’t want to be in that box. I had to rea rm to myself that that’s not all I can do,” she says proudly.

Immediately, Laura pursued a long-time dream of becoming a Realtor. In the midst of so much change,

What’s new

Excitement resonates in Laura’s voice as she shares her enthusiasm for serving the community through a space where people can nd relaxation and joy. Expressing gratitude for her future employees, she emphasizes the impact of providing nancial security and jobs. “I feel a great sense of pride in ownership, being able to call this my place,” she beams. With unwavering certainty, Laura says, “I want to be known as a great employer rst.”

Dancing into this new opportunity to the beats of Lizzo’s “Pink,” Laura embraces her experience, grateful for the journey that paved her latest path.

Residents are revved up about the new Horizon West 7/11 gas station along Seidel Road. Now you can Slurpee up before hitting the new Ace Hardware at 5175 Hamlin Groves Trail or the new Sephora at 16027 New Independence Pkwy. Poki Burri is delighting customers at 12615 W. Colonial Drive, and X marks the spot for amazing nigiri at X Sushi at 1201 Winter Garden Vineland Rd. Anthony Santora is breathing new life into the space formerly known as Franco’s. Santora’s Pizzeria is slinging pies at 5 W Silver Star Rd. in Ocoee. The space also plays host to two ghost kitchens, DeLucca’s Italian Sandwiches and Burgers ‘N Fries. And in what may just be the most anticipated opening in queso history,  Torchy’s Tacos will open its doors at 3310 Daniels Rd this Spring. From Winter Park to Winter Garden, Black Bean Deli is making its debut on Plant Street, taking over the space formerly occupied by NY Bagel & Deli. Our friends at ShooShoo Baby Boutique are moving into half of the former space of Winter Garden Pizza Company, and a new pizza concept by the owners of The Whole Enchilada will open in the other half. Your favorite German bread shop Beneficial Breads has a new address: 119 S Boyd St. And last, but not least, rumor has it downtown Winter Garden maybe getting a new boutique hotel. We haven’t confirmed it just yet, but an RFP for the Winter Garden Hotel at 8 N Highland Ave. was posted to a local Facebook page. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

Good news to share? Send to:
There’s always good news in the Garden

Garden Variety


Ace Hardware

Home must-haves: Fertilizer and weed killer are essential.

Best part of my house: It’s a great challenge.

My one home wish: No weeds!

One thing I’d plant: Sunflowers.

Evangeline Merritt

Ruby & Rust

Home must-haves: Lots of plants, books, and candles.

Best part of my house: My plant corner.

My one home wish: A zen garden water feature would be immaculate.

One thing I’d plant: The biggest garden ever.

Amy Gu ey


Home must-haves: Decorative pillows and floral arrangements.

Best part of my house: My white duvet; it’s so cozy!

My one home wish: A maid and a butler.

One thing I’d plant: A ranunculus flower (aka buttercup).

Heritage Food Tours

Indulge in a 2.5 hour feast for the senses with the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation’s culinary walking tour through our historic downtown. Uncover the juicy past of this charming little city, while savoring delicious bites and discovering why Winter Garden is the perfect blend of history, avor, and charm.


Local History

A.B. Newton house

A cherished cornerstone in Winter Garden’s narrative.

Nestled on 125 West Smith Street, the A.B. Newton house, built in 1905, holds a unique narrative of fortitude. Built by Arthur Bullard Newton, the house’s origin is intertwined with Newton’s influential role in Winter Garden. Plagued by respiratory problems, he sought refuge in Winter Garden in 1892 upon his doctor’s advice. This move marked the beginning of Newton’s significant contributions to the town. A ectionately known as Winter Garden’s “Mr. First,” Newton established the post o ice, published the first

newspaper (The Ricochet), and served as the inaugural mayor, leaving an indelible mark on the community.

The house’s original placement, intended to face north, encountered a challenge when the landowner refused to agree to the road’s construction. In response, Newton and other landowners donated land to create Smith Street, forcing him to rearrange the rooms so the front door faced south. The residence became a centerpiece of the community, inhabited by Newton’s daughter, Pauline Dees, until 1996.

Pauline’s memories unveil the enchanting Southern cracker architecture, a meticulous replica of Mrs. Newton’s girlhood home in Mississippi. Resting upon visible remnants of tree trunks, the house’s foundation pays homage to its roots, quite literally.

Despite the inevitable alterations over the years, the A.B. Newton House remains a cherished cornerstone in Winter Garden’s narrative—a home that resonates with the enduring spirit of a community shaped by its storied past.


Garden Variety

Must Haves

Market vendors spotlight their favorite wares

Paris Bacchus

The Fairy’s Elderberry

“We have a simple desire: to harness the natural goodness of elderberries and share it with the world. Ours is made from scratch, all-natural, and with no added sugars. Plus, unlike others, we use fresh fruit instead of dried.”

Ricky Lyle Crush Soaps

“I love our charcoal exfoliating face mask. It’s all organic—made from lava rock, essential oils, rosemary, and African shea butter. And the best part? You only need to apply it once a month for brighter, vibrant skin.”

Grrroup Chatter

Sean O’Neill, dishes on the area’s rowdiest FB group

7 Things We Hear All The Time

1. Why was I blocked?

A. Because I don’t usually ban people, my answer is I don’t know. I haven’t been on the page all day, check with Kathy my other admin.

2. I can’t seem to bring up the page or nd it at all.

A.That’s because you violated the rules and have been banned and blocked from the page!

3. You’re a dictator, you have a god complex, you are showing favoritism.

A.Well... I did start the page, so technically, I can do what I want. But the truth is the rules are posted very clearly.

4. Delete if not allowed

A. Duh.

5. Can I post my GoFundMe for my dog who is dying of cancer?

A. Rule #7: No Go Fund Me accounts or posts asking for charity donations.

Performing Live at the Embassy!

Now you can hear Marcus Cimino & Mariangel De Oliveira as they make beautiful music together. The young couple who met at Winter Garden Music recently graced our Jan/Feb cover.

6. Did you talk to a manager?

A. Before you rant, we kindly ask that you speak with the manager of the o ending business rst. Give that business a chance to make it right.

7. Why was my post deleted?

A. Because you violated the rules, or the question has been asked too many times already and can be found with a simple little search.

Running this group can be a true train wreck at times. But it truly helps us connect to what’s going on around us. So keep those rants, raves, and reviews,coming! Experience Winter Garden’s Rants Raves Reviews Facebook group for yourself:

Where Community Comes Together Visit Us At: Our mission is to empower residents to be advocates for their own community. We provide one place for every resident to connect to all the “happenings” in their hometown. Homegrown in Hamlin Monthly Market 1st Sundays Horizon West Kid’s Expo Urban Air Adventure Park March 27th Networking Party Bus Guided Tour of HW April & September Holiday Run Series 6 Themed Races Horizon West Fest Annual Community Celebration March 2nd 2024 Horizon West Events Come Join Us! View All Horizon West Events at Flavor Fest of Horizon West Annual Food & Music Festival Nov. 9th




Taxpayers have several perfectly legal ways to shelter their money and still comply with the IRS and tax regulators. Setting up a retirement account, buying a home, using health savings accounts, investing in 529 college savings plans, and more. Here are some of the more familiar options.

Contributing to a Traditional IRA or 401(k) allows you to deduct those contributions from your taxable income the year you make the contribution. The result? You defer some of your tax liability on that money until you retire. Capital gains are also deferred. Withdrawals from these accounts will

be taxed as income the year they are taken.

Another way to shelter money is to contribute to a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k). Unlike a Traditional IRA, your contributions are made with after-tax money. You will still enjoy the tax-deferred growth of your money. However, the big di erence is that you will not be taxed when you are ready to spend your money.

Please remember, deferring is not avoiding altogether. The specific strategies and advantages of sheltering money will depend on individual circumstances, financial goals, and legal considerations. Like always, please seek professional advice before making any tax liability decisions!

IQ Portfolios (IQP) is an independent State Registered Investment Adviser Firm located in Windermere, FL. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an o er or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. A copy of IQP’s current written disclosure statement discussing IQP’s business operation, services, and fees is available upon request.
PRESENTS Financial questions? Just ask Andy! IQ Portfolios is an independent stateregistered investment adviser firm. Always Fiduciary. Fee-Only. 800-558-7969 Promotional feature
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Savvy Sitter


Picture this: a starry night, and there I was, a tiny furball ready to conquer the world. Fate had a funny way of bringing me to di erent houses until I found my forever home.

My journey started with a sweet neighbor who noticed me on a moonlit stroll. I gave her my best puppy eyes, and just like that, I melted her heart. Destiny led me to a loving


home with a wise chocolate lab named Bella. Together, we’re the dream team. I’ve got the best licks, and she’s always ready to shower love. My neighborhood is pretty safe, but beware the garbage truck, my arch-nemesis; I’m working on barking it away. Anyway, you can see the love I have for my pack. I’m a pocket-sized protector; their flu y guardian!

Home & Pet Sitting
The Chihuahua
tell? 20 The Local WINTER GARDEN
have a tail to

Home Pros

Caring for your biggest investment deserves the best. Meet 11 local pros ready to go the extra mile.



Promotional feature 22 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Southeast Steel Appliance Warehouse has been familyowned since it opened in 1940. And there are many reasons why, decades later, this amazing store regularly outsells the big box stores, including Costco, even Amazon. First on the list, as President Stu Kimball puts it, “Selling appliances is what we know. It’s what we do. It’s our expertise and core focus. Our ability to deliver superior performance is unparalleled.”

Southeast Steel sells all the major brands: GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, LG/SKS, Wolf, SubZero, Bosch/Thermidor. Their inventory is vast, with all price points represented, from bud-

get to ultra-high-end models. “We sell refrigerators from $400 up to $10,000 and $15,000. And our pricing throughout is competitive.”

Also, Stu says, “We’ll match prices with anyone as long as they are local and we can verify the price. We belong to Brand Source, an independent buying group that negotiates with manufacturers to cut pricing down to big box store prices.”

More impressive than all that is the appliance expertise every salesperson brings to every transaction. Stu is very proud of that. “All our salesmen are appliance people. They know their products inside and out because we

specialize in appliances and nothing else.”

If you’re looking for a fancy, modern showroom with lots of shiny bling, you won’t find it at Southeast Steel. Their big, three-level wooden building used to be a packing house in the old days. The plywood floor—yes, plywood—is at least 50 years old. “That floor has been here as long as I have,” Stu says. “And the big wood beams that hold up the ceiling are so hard they must be petrified by now.” Southeast Steel has a down-to-earth, homey vibe that is unlike anything else and adds to the unique charm of the place.

There are so many other things we could talk about:

their generational appeal between parents and now their kids, premier customer service, lack of recorded phone messages —

“We answer our phone the old-fashioned way.” But you need to see this place to really take it all in. As Stu says, “At Southeast Steel YOU get the best deal.”

For more information

63 W Amelia St. Orlando 407-423-7654

Copyright 2024© Signature Kitchen Suite, 111 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632. All rights reserved. “Signature Kitchen Suite” and the Signature Kitchen Suite logo are trademarks of Signature Kitchen Suite. A work of art deserves a proper pedestal. See how we respect food at every level at
Guerin, owner of Lagniappe Baking, New Orleans, LA Presenting the 48-inch French Door Refrigerator by Signature Kitchen Suite True to foodTM Visit our showroom near you: 63 West Amelia Street, Orlando, FL 32801 407-423-7654 PA071323

Great Outdoors

Your outdoor oasis begins with A1 Aluminum

Brad and Debra Flora opened A1 Aluminum in 2016 with that exact idea in mind. They wanted to be more than the average screen room company, o ering their customers something di erent, something better. As Debra

says, “We create exclusive resorts in our clients’ backyards. Everyone deserves a comfortable, private outdoor space where they can unwind and decompress from the day.”

A1 Aluminum can simply screen in an existing lanai,

add a foundation of pavers or pour concrete to expand on your dreams. Hot tub? Outdoor kitchen? A1 creates an elite space like no other for you to fill. As Brad says, “We really listen to capture the vision and design the space.”

Clermont, FL 352-272-9665

more information
Pro Promotional feature 24 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Spart of a much larger whole—SoftWash Systems. Andrew Wilburn, owner of Safely SoftWash, explains why that’s important.

“Our SoftWash method is far superior to potentially dangerous pressure washing, and we have SoftWash Systems to thank for that. They established their better, safer alternative to pressure washing over 30 years ago.

Up Up

Safely SoftWash is a better, safer alternative to pressure washing.

They did the testing and formulating to devise the proprietary soaps we use. Waterbased and biodegradable, our soaps deliver strong, double-duty protection. First, by emulsifying dirt and grime using no more pressure than your typical garden hose.

Second, by sanitizing 99.8% of the biological infestation and contaminants that damage roofs and home exteriors.

“Today, over 102,000 roofs and homes later and

counting, every one of our clients benefits from that work. Also, SoftWash Systems keeps us up-todate on our industry’s latest developments with mandatory, annual continuing education courses. And, because Safely SoftWash lasts four to six times longer than pressure washing, they back us by supporting the incredible Five-Year Warranty we o er on every roof we service.”


930 Carter Rd Suite 224

Winter Garden


Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 25
HomePro Your local Ace Hardware has all the selection you need and the customer service you deserve. The Place To Be Promotional feature 26 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Size often does make a di erence, and in the case of Toole’s Ace Hardware Stores, thirteen stores and counting, smaller is definitely better. As Susan Stratton, Marketing Manager with them for 20+ years, says: “It may sound surprising, but most of our Ace Hardware customers prefer us because we’re smaller, more convenient, o er truly personalized service—we know many of our customers by name, and shop-

ping is fast and easy.” Now, they’re taking this exemplary service to the Hamlin area, with their new storefront now open.

Ace Hardware stores are locally and family owned and, in some ways, are present-day embodiments of the days when you could stop in, buy one bolt or screw, and leave. Or, talk to someone who actually knows what he or she is talking about. They sell the top tool brands— Craftsmen, Milwaukee, Stihl.

“Eleven of our Ace Hardware

stores are certified Stihl dealers. Our repair people get extensive training from Stihl until they can tear anything down and put it right back together.”

They even sell bait... Let’s see a big box store top that! “I just love to see a dad or grandpa come in with their child for nightcrawlers, minnows, shiners, red worms. Oh yes, we have poles, tackle, apparel, whatever they need.”

It seems those days when shop owners truly cared

about their communities and customers are still here with us—at your neighborhood Ace Hardware Store.

For more information

5175 Hamlin Groves Trl, Winter Garden, FL 34787 407 440 0905


Ready or not, change is coming to Windermere. There’s no ignoring it either, as the 500 Block of Downtown Windermere turns to rubble and begins to take shape into something entirely new. And the man with the plan is none other than Chris Sapp,

Big Reveal

Suzi Karr Realty wants to give area homeowners something to celebrate

owner/broker for SKR. The past Council Member for the town of Windermere now sits on the Board of Directors for the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, and his boutique real estate agency enjoys a stellar 46 year reputation as a company with deep, local roots. “It’s a very exciting time for the town, as well as

our agency. We’re positioning to broaden our influence while rea irming our commitment to upholding the standards of true professionalism and expertise in the real estate industry. Big changes are just around the corner,” he says with a smile. What does that mean exactly? Stay tuned for the big reveal in the next issue.

For more information 407-876-3688
Promotional feature 28 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Our Approach

Orlando Outdoor Living’s distinctly unique approach to outdoor spaces.

What sets Orlando Outdoor Living apart from other pergola builders, deck builders, paving contractors, outdoor kitchen designers, water feature designers, and even outdoor furniture suppliers, is that they do all that and more.

As Al Villamil, owner of Orlando Outdoor Living says, “We take a unique approach to designing outdoor experiences; we use the building as the cornerstone of the project. By capitalizing the

pre-existing character of the house, we design projects that enhance the initial structure. We take the time to curate an array of products that meet our company’s quality standards, fitting any home style.

“We run a 2000+ square foot design center that we utilize as a showroom, to allow clients to physically interact with the products before deciding. This allows clients to get a better feel for what the results of a project may look like. This unique approach to design is what sets

us apart from competition and creates a better consumer experience.”

For more information


HomePro Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 29

Roof Tops

Most days, Kevin Mitchell, owner of Horizon West Roofing, is literally on top of the world. He makes it a point to be on every roofing job and he loves it! He came to roofing as his passion after twenty years of

being a preacher, a teacher, a formerly certified principal, and selling for other roofing companies.

“I’ve seen so many examples of bad roofing,” he says. “People deserve better and my core driving passion is helping people. So, I

got my license and opened Horizon West. MY goal is to deliver an incredible product AND customer service. We do things right. We don’t cut corners with materials. What you don’t know about your roof can become costly and most

of that is unseen. I’m definitely a roofing nerd—ask me about blue-green algae someday. I really want to help people become educated roofing consumers.”

Proof of that is his policy of free roof checks. “If you’re worried about your

Promotional feature 30 The Local WINTER GARDEN

roof, bad weather’s coming, or you want to see what life your roof has left in it—call me. I won’t charge you. At best, I’ll land my next roofing job. At the least, I’ll have made a roof connection for the future.”


more information 352-705-2869
top. Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 31
A commitment to high quality puts Horizon West Roofing on

The Real Deal

Regency Real Estate are the future of real estate professionals

Improved e iciency, faster response, increased convenience, these are just some of the benefits Regency Real Estate has brought to the market since opening their doors in 2022. “We are a full-service, boutique agency located in downtown Winter Garden,” says owner/co-broker Heather Spirazza. “And

we o er services others simply don’t. We have a licensed real estate attorney/owner/ co-broker—Michael Scala— working right alongside us to help with contracts and titles. We have a complete Media department for producing quality videos and photography. We specialize in all real estate types—residential, commercial, investment, and

even o -market acquisition.”

Lexi Anderson, o ice manager and Realtor adds, “We live and work comfortably in today’s fast-paced digital realm. That said, it is still important that buyers and sellers alike do their due diligence. Choose and work with the right professional and then trust that professional to work in their best interest.”

For more information

407 469 5021

Promotional feature 32 The Local WINTER GARDEN
407-443-2843 |

The giants of recreational vehicles are also big with golf carts.

Known for forty-eight years as a “giant” in the world of RVs. Giant Recreation World is the only RV dealer to o er a Lifetime Warranty—their Warranty Forever—good nationwide. But they’re not just about RVs.

Larry McNamara, CEO of Giant, says “We’ve dabbled in boats, ATVs, all that. It’s all family fun recreation. Today, we’re excited to o er a complete line of golfcarts—we’re Winter Garden’s #1 Golfcart Dealership! We sell all electric carts—no gas-pow-

ered. Advanced EV is our economical golf cart brand and it still o ers more bells and whistles than a traditional gas golfcart. MadJax is our mid-line o ering, Atlas is our premium brand. All are super easy to convert to street legal.”


Promotional feature 34 The Local WINTER GARDEN


The rental market is booming right now and Giant is at the forefront of that, too. They rent golf carts and RVs. Larry is proud to say: “Our rental fleet doesn’t look like one—we only rent clean, late models. Renting is the perfect way to test out the RV life-

style. And we deliver, to your home, Fort Wilderness, Daytona Speedway. People who know book us a year in advance for those two.”

Buying an RV or golfcarts is a big decision. Giant Recreation World cuts that big decision down to size.


13906 W Colonial Dr., Winter Garden


more information
Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 35

Home Sweet(ly

You’ve been in a health club or two. Worked out in a hotel, club, or cruise ship gym. You’ve done your research and know what you like. Now it’s time to get hands-on with that treadmill, exercise bike, stairstepper, or weight machine.

Southeastern Fitness,

says, “Those are exactly the customers, serious exercisers, we cater to. There are lots of places out there that sell exercise equipment.

Walmart, Dick’s, Amazon. But I’ve been doing this over 20 years, and we are a better alternative. Why?

Because we only sell higher end equipment. Our 3,000 sq. ft. showroom has

brands like Life Fitness, Body Solid, Hammer Strength, and more. We just added a new one— STEPR—to our list; the first real improvement in treadmills in 40 years.

We know our products better. We’re local. We know our customers have other options and that’s why we treat our customers better.”

For more information 4353 Edgewater Dr #800 Orlando 407-355-9901
Home Southeastern Fitness Equipment: For people who want to stay fit and stay home HomePro Promotional feature 36 The Local WINTER GARDEN

The Rare Realtor

You’ve got choices! Shelley Dawson explains why she is the first choice for so many homeowners.

Being a part of the Real Estate Industry since 2004 means that I have seen the ups and downs of the Housing Industry up close for over 20 years. A lot of things happen over that length of time and it’s made for an interesting ride that inspires me. My background in Marketing,

Title, Mortgage and Real Estate plus a Masters Degree makes being a knowledgable professional in my field easy for me, in an industry that few stand the test of time. I’m proud to be a Re/Max agent because not everyone can be.”

Realtors are often thought of as purely transactional— good for the buying and

selling of homes, but that’s where their client relationships end. That’s not the case with Shelley Dawson. “I’m a connector, a resource, I like to be there for my clients long after they’re done with their real estate deal,” Shelley says. “I get calls all the time about things like schools in the area, insurance referrals, kids looking for a job, the best restaurants, hairdresser recommendations. I’m a big water person, so if you want to talk beaches, kayaking, boats— I’m your person,” she laughs. “If you have a question I can’t answer, odds are I’ll know someone who can and we’ll figure it out together. If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”

For more information

The Shoppes at Windward Cay Winter Garden


Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 37

Chic Shack

From demolition to delight, Mandy and Knox Burns have shaped their space into a surf shack haven.

Design, no matter the size of a space, tells a story of its own. Color, shape, and structure become language; furniture, artwork, texture, and carefully constructed vignettes become visual cues.


Chic Shack

For Mandy and Knox Burns, the design story begins with destruction. “We bought our house in July 2019, just before COVID hit. At the time, we were committed to remodeling,” Knox re ects. The old home, plagued by termites and internal decay, left them with only four walls worth saving. The choice was clear: The house needed to be completely torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Little did they know that this decision would mark the start of an adventure lled with highs, lows, and a lot of perseverance. Knox recalls, “Building during COVID was a nightmare. It took over two years to get everything done. It was a tough time in our life.” Smiling, Mandy nods, “Now that we’re on the other side, we love the house; we love the neighborhood and we love everything Winter Garden o ers our family.”

The new construction brought ample creative freedom in the design. Drawing on her expertise in landscape architecture and urban planning, Mandy took the reins.

“From the moment I walked in, I loved our home. I could picture exactly what we should do. Whenever you walk

around a project, you get a feeling, like it should go in a certain direction.” While one may describe the aesthetic as “earthy eclectic,” Mandy has playfully dubbed their home as “Grandma’s Surf Shack.”

The term may sound unusual, but for Mandy,

it epitomizes the essence of her great-grandmother Mabel’s creativity and resourcefulness. As Mandy explains, “Everything my great-grandmother made was to be shared and enjoyed. From her handmade hooked rugs,

the quilts that must have taken weeks to sew by hand, or the pies she would bake to pass out to the neighborhood, her rule was that everything had a purpose. That’s why I decided to incorporate her tattered, scrap-fabric rugs on our entryway


wall, welcoming guests with a reminder that nothing is too precious in our home or life, except the people we share it with. Embracing the wear, tear, and imperfections is what adds beauty to both the house and our lives.”

The aesthetic of the house is a blend of earthy tones, distinctive elements, and the iconic breezeblocks—a design element that Mandy describes as her “love language.” These breezeblocks, strategically

placed at the entrance, not only keep the roof lines low but also contribute to the overall aesthetic, providing a nod to the surf shack vibe. In the kitchen, where the counter is intentional and spacious, every culinary creation

becomes a shared masterpiece, beckoning the family together around the heart of the home. “I always wanted an island that my kids could run around; I’m constantly chasing them,” Mandy laughs. “And almost every

Made from scraps, Grandma Mabel’s handmade hooked rugs grace the entryway, placed beside the iconic breezeblocks.

day, every square inch is taken up on this island.”

Mandy and Knox’s vivacious children, Mabel Breck and John Knox Burns V (a ectionately known as Cinco), add their own charm to this vibrant home. Mabel’s name is a beautiful blend of family history, inspired by Mandy’s great-grandmother and Knox’s grandmother. Meanwhile, Cinco, as he prefers to be called, embodies the fth generation with the name John, paying homage to the family’s lineage. With Mabel’s playful energy and Cinco’s lively

spirit, the kitchen island becomes a hub of activity, a true re ection of the heartwarming chaos that de nes this bustling family space.

Taking center stage beside the oven is none other than Snoop Dogg’s cookbook, an odd departure from Grandma’s surf shack chic, but one that has an inherently more pressing meaning. Amidst the joy and laughter that typically lls their home, the family has recently faced an unexpected and challenging chapter in their lives. Mabel, their youngest of only 3 years

old, has been diagnosed with leukemia, adding a layer of gravitas to every moment. “Mabel’s MakeA-Wish right now is to make corn mu ns with Snoop Dogg,” Mandy shares with a mixture of amusement and love. In the midst of medical appointments and caring for their daughter, the family nds unexpected joy in a toddler’s love for celebrity chef corn mu ns—after all, who wouldn’t?

Beyond the kitchen, the home itself is a canvas of creativity. Mandy’s passion for ceramic work

is evident in the bright, sandy tiles that grace not only the bathroom but also various corners of the home, adorning each space with an authentic allure. “The tile is handmade, so it’s imperfect. A lot of times when you build a new home, everything’s so pristine. That’s not what we wanted. We enjoy the artistry behind it, but also the imperfections—we have it in three places in the house.” This distinctive touch is further enhanced by an array of vintage straw hats, cherished possessions from Mandy’s grandfather,

Chic Shack
“We want all our artwork to be original. From roadside finds to street artists on our honeymoon, our artwork is distinct and special.”

This Page: Nodding to the theme of Grandma’s Surf Shack, the upper cabinetry features vintage ventilation holes, which were used to allow for proper airflow.

Opposite page left: expansive pantry seamlessly hidden within coastal wooden cabinets.

Opposite page right:

artwork, painted live during Mandy and Knox’s wedding.

Chic Shack

seamlessly blending personal memories with the everyday rhythm of their home.

At the core of this transformative journey is Mandy’s unwavering passion for interior and exterior design. “Design should be used to solve problems. Whether you’re inside or outside, it’s important to create special moments in everyday spaces.” Her creative energy and keen eye for detail breathed new life into the project. From selecting the perfect color palette to choosing the right textures and materials, Mandy’s touch is evident in every corner of the Burns family home. Taking a walk through

the property, this is apparent. Bathed in delicate greens, yellows, tans, and pops of pink, the home embodies the old Florida essence. Individuality emanates o the walls, and every nook and cranny tells a story. Take the big Elvis statue, for example—a quirky yard sale nd that now holds a real guitar and a prime spot in the living room. Or Knox’s grandfather’s painting that found a cozy corner in the in-laws’ quarters. Mandy chuckles, “His family laughed so hard when they presented it to me because it’s awful. It’s moved about four or ve times until I nally decided to put it where my in-laws sleep. I’m

like, you’re going to have to wake up to this thing.”

In seamlessly blending the old and the new, Mandy’s prowess in marrying tradition with modernity is evident. The result is not just a house but a living, breathing work of art that tells the story of the Burns family’s past, present, and future. Art is a central theme in the Burns household, extending beyond family heirlooms. In a tradition unique to Mandy and Knox, paintings of every home they’ve lived in adorn the walls, capturing the essence of that chapter in their lives. These paintings serve as visual memoirs, each stroke telling a story of the family’s journey, growth, and

the unique personality of each residence. Mandy’s artistic air extends to creating her own artwork, as seen in the paintings from Breckenridge, Colorado, where the couple rst met. The personalized touch continues with skis and a snowboard awaiting transformation into a mountain scene, a nod to the couple’s meeting place and the origins of their daughter’s middle name, Breck.

Each room tells a story, with pieces collected, repurposed, or created, re ecting the family’s adventures and memories. Original artwork holds a special place, with Mandy emphasizing the importance of incorporating old elements for grounding the space in

Chic Shack

Collected from a yard sale in Denver, the Elvis statue now stands as a unique staple to the Burns’ living area. Grasping a real guitar with a history tied to a sister’s ex, it serves as a testament to the meaningful art of repurposing cherished items.


The guest bathroom: a comical picture-turned-painting captures the Burns’ friends in a loving embrace, with a shirtless Knox holding a red solo cup in the background.

Upstairs kids’ area: featuring a rock climbing wall, perfect for the rambunctious Mabel and Cinco.

The Master Bath: Every room includes a personal touch of family history. Mandy’s grandfather’s beloved straw hats, and her grandmother Mabel’s authentic clawfoot tub.
Chic Shack

history. Mandy explains, “My goal with design is form and function—every time I turn a corner, I want it to be a happy memory, or a special moment. For example, sometimes it can be di cult to go up our many stairs. So I put our wedding painting on that wall. Now, it’s a happy memory that I relive any time I go up the stairs.”

Mandy’s dedication to design doesn’t stop at the doorsteps. As a landscape architect, Mandy’s focus extends beyond the interior, shaping the exterior to create a modest and inviting façade. The green

doorways, the strategically placed dentil molding up front, and the carefully chosen plantings re ect her commitment to aesthetics. “The front of your home is not necessarily for you; it’s for the community,” Mandy emphasizes. “It was important to me to have a modest-looking home. Going into the build, our aim was for the home to be understated. Most people want a grand, beautiful home, but we leaned toward the opposite; we wanted to keep a similar aesthetic to what downtown o ers.” The attention to detail extends

to the choice of owers that bloom with pink in October, creating a visual spectacle that elicits high ves from passersby.

Having a home that re ects their personalities and provides a space for their family is a source of joy and accomplishment. The journey, though arduous, has culminated in a home that is not just a physical place but a living collection of memories, stories, and unique pieces that tell their story. Mandy says, “When people come here, I hope they feel comfortable, and it brings them

moments of joy. Our aspiration is that our home serves as an inspiration for others, encouraging them to embrace their own narratives and design spaces that radiate joy and comfort.” In a nutshell, the Burns family home is a celebration of quirkiness, resilience, and the magic that happens when design meets personal narrative. It stands as a reminder that a home is not just a structure but a canvas where each stroke, color, and piece of furniture contributes to a story that evolves with every passing day.

The Burns’ backyard serves as a private sanctuary for the family to relax and the children to play. Placed in the back is an old church pew, an heirloom from Mandy’s family.
Viewpoint helps define a new standard of Winter Garden luxury Park iews Promotional feature 50 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Timberlake Cabinetry is one of Viewpoint’s many valued partners. We are their No. 1 distributer in the area

Stand at the gateway to downtown Winter Garden, and the two gorgeous brick buildings rising four stories high on Plant Street are hard to miss. The townhomes of 30 North Park give owners easy access to the highly sought-after Winter Garden lifestyle with all its restaurants, festivals, and shopping opportunities—including one of Florida’s most popular farmers’ markets. So, it follows that, Urban Hideaway, the developers of this auspicious residence would demand the very finest e orts from their construction partners to produce homes that measure up to this lifestyle opportunity… Enter Viewpoint.

According to John Ried, owner of Viewpoint Design and Installation, “The developer was looking for a company that could handle this very special project to a level that matched their expectations. We are extremely honored and humbled to have been chosen. I like to think that it is because of the level of the quality of our products, the quality of our installation, the higher-level brands that we work with, and, certainly, our design capabilities.

“It also doesn’t hurt that we are a local company. Just a few blocks down the road, our 1,600 sq. ft. showroom is there for clients to come in to see and touch choices they may be considering.”

A good example is the cabinet line from Timberlake cabinetry.

John says, “Timberlake builds a very high-quality cabinet with a wide variety of door styles, paints, stains, and finishes to fit the design demands of most projects. They’ve been consistently excellent supply chain partners for us with quick turnaround.

What Viewpoint tries to do with every project, from something small to something as grand as 30 North Park, is create focal points throughout the home. No matter which way you turn, you’ll see something amazing, from a beautiful view to a stunning installation.

The kitchens, in particular, are jaw-dropping in scale and design. There are focal points

from every direction, with major wow factors and functionality designed right in. They have two tall, arched windows that share space with floating shelves instead of cabinets. Quartz countertops gleam in the sunlight, dramatic hoods give that professional flair, bespoke flooring connects beautifully with the islands, and amazing tilework draws the eye.

“On the larger homes with rooftop areas, we installed bars and outdoor kitchens, ” John says proudly. “You sip a favorite beverage, grill a steak, relax in the hot tub, and take in an amazing view!”

Aside from their work at 30 North Park, Viewpoint’s services are available for projects of any size, inlcuding new builds or upgrades. From a simple wet bar to a complete kitchen or bathroom upgrade, Viewpoint is ready to assist you from inspiration to installation.

For more information

1200 E Plant St Winter Garden



through this beautiful project

Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 51

Ten years, three kids and 110,000 miles—for the Elhard Family, home is where you park it.


Close Quarters

What is the American dream?

Typically, the answer involves a house, a white picket fence, maybe a couple of kids, and a dog. But what if the new American dream means ditching the fence to live wherever you want, whenever you want—in an RV?

More than a million Americans live in RVs full time, and the Elhard Family is ve of them.

Once owners of a 2,700-square-foot house in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and a 3,900 square foot studio, Jon Elhard worked as a photographer and his wife Denise managed the business. The couple worked long hours, including evenings and weekends. Time for family adventure and exploration was minimal at best.

However, life took a sharp turn in 2011 when Jon returned home from a trip to Washington, DC, with a big, bullseye-shaped rash and multiple scelrosis-like symptoms. Extreme fatigue, muscle spasms, numbness, headaches. “The doctors were stumped,” Jon recalls. “They hadn’t seen anything like it, and so I got labeled with MS even though we all knew that wasn’t the case.”

Turns out, Jon had contracted Lyme disease; the

e ects of which he lives with to this day. “Back in 2011, that wasn’t a common diagnosis, and it’s often confused with MS. Either way, 2011 and 2012 were really hard years. Denise and I started to have long conversations about how long I had— what if I got worse? And so we decided to make the best of it while we could, and started planning a once-in-a-lifetime, sixmonth trip across America with the kids.”

“It was always our dream to travel in the US, to see the national parks, the American West, and spend some time in Florida. Not many people have the luxury of taking six months o , but with a seasonal photography business, in Canada no less, it wasn’t hard to hit the road in the fall and travel through the winter. Plus, we were already homeschooling Aimee and Jake, so that wasn’t an issue. So we bought a truck and a used 30-foot long, 250-squarefoot travel trailer, and just made it happen,” Jon says.

Denise researched for months and had every little stop lined up. “She was the brains of the operation, nding campgrounds for us to stay and things for us to explore,” Jon says. “I’d like to say I was the muscle, but really

I was the driver. I knew certain things we wanted to do with the kids, and I was the one to gure out how long it would take us to drive between stops. But really, we had no idea what we were doing. We just went for it and gured it out on the road.”

And gure it out they did. That rst year, the Elhards visited 27 states, 40 di erent campgrounds, and countless national treasures.

“I joke all the time that my kids have forgotten more about US history and national parks than most kids learn in the rst place,” says Denise. “Every place we visit had some kind of significance to their studies and learning. Aimee and I were obsessed with Little House on the Prairie, and we actually traveled most of the route that the Ingalls family took in their books. Zion, the Grand Canyon, the Black Hills, Joshua Tree. The Oregon Coast, Stone Mountain in Georgia, New Orleans, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamogordo, the Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona, The River Walk in San Antonio. I mean, seeing the Alamo in person is so much better than reading about it in a book, right?”

The ability to weave homeschooling lessons with real life adventures is one of the most widely appreciated aspects of the Elhard’s RV lifestyle. Conversations with them are punctuated with vast experiences in both wellknown and lesser known destinations.

Now, 10 years later, the family has traveled more than 110,000 miles, seen 41 states and five provinces, and even added a third child, Coulson, to the mix, without a single regret. “We’re just an average family living an extra-ordinary life. It was the best decision we ever made.”

Tiny Living, Big Life

The common belief about campers is that they are pretty cramped with not much space or storage, so how would you possibly t all your things in it? And with three children?! Many of us think it would be impossible.

But one look inside the Elhards’ Forest River Sierra 410-square -foot fth wheel (purchased in 2015) proves there’s a lot more space than you might imagine. Eighteen windows ood the space with natural light. There’s a full-size kitchen with a residential refrigerator, a


Road Trip: Family photos capture the memories of each stop along the Elhard’s trek across America. A map hung above the kitchen door tracks the journey.


Close Quarters

master suite with a kingsize bed that lifts up for storage, a washer-dryer, a second private room, two bathrooms, a “treehouse” loft the kids use as an extra bedroom, and the great outdoors as your front porch.

“The whole point of the RV lifestyle is to be outside. This is really our living room,” says Denise, gesturing around her as she curls up comfortably on an all-weather cushioned sofa under a canopy. This “outdoor lanai” has seating for eight, with plenty of room

for friends to pull up their own foldable camp chairs. Nearby, an oversized tent houses an outdoor dining table, which doubles as a space for games, art projects, and plenty of room for Coulson’s Legos.

All of which gets packed up and conveniently stored in the basement— the large storage area underneath the RV’s oor, accessible from outside storage doors.

Jon and Denise speak with ease about living with less. Then again, they’re well-practiced after 10 years of road life. But the

early years were a little more challenging.

“After two six-month trips in the travel trailer, upgrading to this RV felt like we were in a mansion!” Denise laughs. “But it was also then that we decided to sell our house and make RV living a full-time endeavor. Downsizing from the 2,700 square foot house into an RV … now that was challenging!”

Working in their favor was the 180-day maximum they were allowed to be in the US as Canadian citizens. Even though they

sold the house, the furniture, and most of the big items, they were able to store smaller items — clothes, keepsakes, tools, and such — with friends and family. Each time they came back to Canada, they were able to let go of more things. Life on the road was teaching them what they truly needed. Turns out, that was less about clothes and appliances and more about friends and experiences.

“You can meet families on the road and eat meals with them, and enjoy Co ee Talk and make

“The whole point of the RV lifestyle is to be outside. This is really our living room.”

Close Quarters

friendships in three hours that are lifelong, and deep,” says Jon.

“There’s a core group of families that we’ve been friends with since that second trip in 2014,” adds Denise. “We meet up every year, sometimes in the same locations, sometimes with others. They’ve really become our road family. We obviously enjoy seeing our Canadian family when we visit, but there’s something about the bond you make with fellow RVers. It’s irreplaceable.”

These days, many of the Elhards’ core friends have traded full-time RV life for homes and acreage. “We’re one of the last of our group to still be doing this full-time,” says Jon. “But we’re all still connected. It’s part of the reason we live here, in Winter Garden. We have friends with homes in Windermere and Stoneybrook West. Three other families have settled in South Carolina, so we spend a lot of time there. And there’s a couple in Benson,Arizona,outside of Tuscon, we call them

Road Grandparents because our kids have known them for most of their life.”

Yet while other families have chosen to expand their square footage, the Elhards still love the freedom of their RV life. Only now, they call Winter Garden home, and spend most of their time living at the Encore RV Resort o State Road 50.

“Florida was always a place where we knew we wanted to be,” explains Jon.

“Even during our very rst trip, we spent three of our six months in Florida,

knowing that someday we wanted to make it our home,” adds Denise. “It took almost a decade to come to fruition, but we did it.”

And for the rst time during all those years on the road the Elhards are able to stay year-round thanks to a growing Creative Cartz golf cart business that they started with friends in Fort Myers in 2021, using a two-year small business work Visa. When Hurricane Ian decimated the area in 2022 their partners were hit with signi cant family

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Close Quarters

challenges, and job opportunities that changed the business structure. This gave Jon and Denise the opportunity to bring the business elsewhere, so they o cially moved to Winter Garden and started fresh. Jon and Denise have applied to extend that visa and if granted will be able to live in the US full-time for ve more years.

“It’s a very stressful process,” Denise shares. With no guaranteed outcome, their business and the proverbial home they have

built for their family is on the line.

“And yet, there’s no place we’d rather be,” Jon says. “Winter Garden has the best of everything— big city conveniences, small town friendliness, a community of close friends nearby, and the weather. I mean, we’re Canadians. We know snow. And this is so much better,” he laughs.”Winter Garden, and these 410-square-feet, it’s home and we absolutely love it.”



From your friends in the TUESDAY NETWORKING GROUP

Love blooms for an Oakland family on their 13 acre farm.


the day. Utterly exquisite wedding arrangements adorn the living room, kitchen, and dining room. In the pantry, fresh-cut roses sit in water, petals in full bloom, ready for an upcoming photoshoot the following day. Welcome to the captivating world of Niesa Putigna, a passionate mother, ower farmer, and entrepreneur who breathes life into her family of nine. Though her daily routine may di er from ours, the heartbeat of her home remains the same—love and family.


Hailing from Tennessee,

The high vaulted ceilings, exposed beams,

I realize that all the

her candid perspective, “Many approach adoption

9 Lives 64 The Local WINTER GARDEN

to blossom into a beautiful, tight-knit family? You give them purpose.


With their dream home under construction and ample space to grow, the farm became the avenue to bring the family together. “We had to do something as a team, as a family to work together— nding a common goal was crucial to us,” Niesa says.

learned; we all did.”

Today, the family embraces farm life with fewer grumbles and more joy. Especially when the fruits of their labor begin to bloom.

And so Farm Nine was born out of necessity, without dreams of a business at all.

“As a stay-at-home mom, I had to nd something that could bring the kids together with purpose and structure. And give me some peace and joy. In between morning chores, dropping my kids at school, making lunches, and taking them to practice or friends’ houses, I was able to work on the farm when I was home. It was the perfect solution. I’ve always loved getting my hands in the dirt, gardening, growing, and being a part of nature,” she pauses, “I am ever-amazed at the voice that emanates from owers and food— they don’t speak through words, yet they share themselves wholeheartedly for our enjoyment.”

“Of course, we have normal kids, who would

“We are right on the cusp of the owers blooming, so we will get to see how our season has panned out,” Niesa says.

The kids will help with the budding, picking, and maintaining the rows of owers—however, the results are never guaranteed. The Putigna family has learned to accept bad weather and pesky pests ruining crops—that’s life. No two seasons are ever the same.

“The longer I live with animals and farming, I realize that all the planning in the world may not come with an expected win.”

Yet, it’s this that makes the experience relatable. Family, in their opinion, is a group of individuals who choose to live life together every day, through thick and thin. It is unpredictable how each day will go, and they make momentby-moment decisions.

day and put in the work, just like family.

Besides the owers, the kids help with feeding a diverse array of animals—two cows, a multitude of pigs, numerous goats, sheep, two donkeys, approximately 60 free-roaming chickens, and hundreds of bees generating an impressive 60 gallons of honey annually. Their duties extend to moving hay rolls, holding pigs for castration, caring for the animals, building structures on the property, managing controlled burns, tending to weeds, sowing and harvesting seeds, and overall maintaining the grounds.

“The animals are purely for our enjoyment, though we do appreciate the eggs our chickens lay for us.” Pastel eggs scatter the coops like Easter eggs, waiting to be selected.

“Our kids used to read to one of our cows, Butter, and they would sit with her and do homework,” Niesa says as she pets Butter, who eagerly nudges her with love and adoration.

at home. They feel a sense of responsibility toward the land and nature, and keeping animals has brought them joy, changing their perspective. It has encouraged them to spend more time outdoors and less time glued to screens, which is signi cant for their physical and mental health. “They all have busy schedules as they grow, move away, and take on more. I make sure to wake early to see everyone o to school or work. I go into the elds to care (and greet) the animals, then handle the admin side of the farm.”

Dropping by the family store, hitting the ower market, making it back home to pick up her kids, cooking dinner, and then working out may seem like a marathon for many, but Niesa thrives with her schedule. As do the kids.

“It’s always crazy around here—always lots to do, but it’s a home lled with laughter and love,” Ayantu explains as she helps unload the dishwasher for her mom. “I love all of

9 Lives 66 The Local WINTER GARDEN
“But most important was creating a living space where nine people could grow and thrive.”

the animals and the living things that are around us.”

Niesa laughs. “I’m sure all the kids say they won’t ever farm or plant when they have a home of their own, but I have a feeling they will.”

Nature-loving roots have been planted in the hearts of her children, and they have the opportunity and ability to plant those seeds wherever life takes them.

and visitors alike have found beauty and inspiration in Farm Nine’s owers thanks to Winter Garden’s thriving Farmers Market.

Starting as a vendor in the market was a great way for Niesa to express her creativity and design skills. “We would pick the owers and make 50 bouquets in a small barn on our property that we would take to the market. It was a happy accident that everything took o the way it did.” However, the seasonal nature of owers posed a challenge in consistently sourcing every bloom needed for the perfect bouquet.

“We had to decide on wholesale owers during our o -season to assist us in lling our arrangements and keep up with the growing amounts of weddings we have been asked to be a part of. For me, that was a really tough decision.”

Being passionate about keeping everything as local as possible, Niesa had to weigh the choice of sticking with her roots or having the opportunity for her family’s hard work to play a momentous role in the community. She decided on the latter and plowed full steam ahead.

“We have the exibility to try di erent things

when it comes to farming. We have open-air rows of owers, along with a covered greenhouse. This year we decided to try some di erent styles of planting to see if it yields di erent results.”

Throughout the growing season, Niesa’s farm cloaks the land in vibrant blooms. Roses, ranunculus, zinnias, protea, sun owers, and dahlias rotate with the seasons and measure the passage of time, with no calendar required.

To most people, her work in Oakland seems like a dream. She walks between rows of

“This year we decided to try some different styles of planting to see if it yields different results.”

kaleidoscopic petals at dawn and spends her weekends designing for weddings. But beyond the pile of tulips draped over her shoulder is the weight of something bigger: the preservation of community, and the cultivation of family. Flowers are simply the vessel.

“Flowers are such blessings for the sheer fact that they don’t last,” she says. “Flowers give you their entire lives. From the moment they are picked, they are cherished and gracefully arranged, and chosen by you to be a

part of your life—to love, nourish, and be loved in return. What other living thing gives you its entire life? I can’t think of one… other than family.”

“Never in a million years did I anticipate our ‘family hobby’ transforming into a business, achieving the success it has. It’s a true blessing,” Niesa beams.

Through dedication, hard work, a great deal of resolve, and the love of a united family, the farm has not only ourished but has become a wellspring of joy.

“It’s always crazy around here—always lots to do, but it’s a home filled with laughter and love.”
9 Lives 70 The Local WINTER GARDEN

*Bryan Fifer First For BFF*

Divergent Paths

“I just see the world a little di erently, that’s all.”

As a young woman at the age of 27, Caroline has the world at her feet. With a job she loves, unwavering support behind her, and a vibrant social life, she is ready for anything that comes her way. As a skilled prep chef at The Edison in Disney Springs, Caroline assumes the responsibility of meticulously preparing an array of ingredients necessary for the seamless ow of a lively restaurant. The hustle and bustle of the restaurant environment are not just challenges for Caroline; they ignite her creativity and productivity. Caroline re ects, “I’m able to work at my own pace, and beat to my own drum.” Pausing, she says with a heartfelt smile, “I’m autistic.”

Autism is often a diagnosis or word that is met with uncomfortable emotions, hesitation or even fear. Many nd themselves uncertain about how to interact, provide support, communicate, or engage with individuals who are on the Neurodivergent Spectrum. However, Caroline and her mom, Tia, have evolved into an unstoppable mother-daughter duo, passionately advocating for Autism acceptance and fostering a deeper understanding.

“As a baby, there were telltale signs,” Tia explains. “Every night, Caroline would cry uncontrollably and we would sit in her room with the lights o until she could decompress.” As a second child, Tia and her husband began

to observe distinctions in developmental milestones between the sisters.

“At 6 weeks old, we had yet to see Caroline smile,” Tia recalls. “We began to go through the ‘can-she’ list.” The couple mutually agreed that it was time to have a conversation with their pediatrician. And so it was, that shortly before she turned two, Tia and her husband received the diagnosis that Caroline was autistic. “I won’t sugarcoat it—when I found out, I cried. The parenting roadmap we had envisioned just went out the window, and I had to nd a new path,” Tia says.

Navigating a road that is vastly unexplored, misunderstood, and unique to each child on the spectrum proved to be

“People still call me lazy, uncaring, weird, or even a quitter… but I’m not. I’ve come to accept myself, yet we’re still waiting for others to accept me.”

Oh Well

a daunting challenge.

Leveraging her background as an educator, Tia actively pursued Caroline’s enrollment in a PreDevelopment School. This specialized environment provided opportunities for speech practice and physical therapy. They worked with her on accepting and understanding her distinct learning style, recognizing the need for ongoing support. This foundation brought a semblance of clarity to the roadmap for Caroline’s subsequent educational steps.

“Keeping Caroline as close to her peers as possible was very important to me. Having her in an

environment where she could be social, and interact with other kids was crucial. As an educator, I embraced the role of a mother and shaped it into becoming her advocate.”

Tia pauses, “With time and patience, children like Caroline not only thrive but often surpass expectations, though society often forgets.”

While Tia and Caroline were nding their unique developmental rhythm, the true challenge arose from interactions with peers and other parents, a struggle that unfortunately persists today. “You don’t get invited to the sleepover. You won’t get invited to the birthday party. You are in a world of your own.” The sting of exclusion, misunderstanding, and yearning for acceptance reverberates in the hearts of those facing autism.

“I felt ashamed of myself for a long time; I was made to feel less than,” Caroline says, sipping her Starbucks drink. “People still call me lazy, uncaring, weird, or even a quitter… but I’m not,” she asserts. “I’ve come to accept myself, yet we’re still waiting for others to accept me.”

In the nearly 25 years since Caroline’s diagnosis, there have been signi cant strides in

the resources and support for those living with Autism. However, both Caroline and Tia emphasize that there is ongoing work to be done—expanding education and job opportunities for individuals with autism and educating the community on embracing their neurodivergent friends, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers. Caroline urges, “If I could tell people one thing, it would be, ‘Try to understand where a person with a disability is coming from.’”

“I can do everything that you can do, but sometimes it just takes me a little longer,” Caroline explains. Learning to drive, for instance, took her two years, compared to the one year it might take others. “I like to start something, nish it, and then move on to the next thing. My co-workers and managers have been supportive, and they take time to socialize with me, help me, and allow me to be myself. I have a happy life, and I accept myself for who I am,” Caroline concludes with a genuine smile.

Acceptance, kindness, patience—imagine the accomplishments we could achieve if we embodied these traits ourselves.

Wellness Counts 2 YEARS is the typical age at which symptoms tend to appear, although autism can be diagnosed at any age.

80% of neurodivergent adults are unemployed or underemployed. Employers have commonly overlooked these applicants, but this trend is changing.


Lift Disability Network

The Friendship Place

UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities

Florida Institute of Community Inclusion



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Oh Well

Seeing Red

Dr. Mike Imler gets real about red eye.

The year 2023 was a bad one for overthe-counter eye care products. In January, two brands of eyedrops were pulled from shelves after they were linked to a drug-resistant bacteria

strain that has been found to have caused at least four deaths and serious health issues in several others. Weeks later, two other types of eyedrops were recalled because they posed a di erent

kind of contamination risk. In October, another 26 eye care products were pulled from shelves after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found unsanitary conditions at a manufacturing plant. And in November, Amazon said it was removing seven types of eyedrops from its website after receiving a warning letter from the FDA, which said the products were not approved for sale in the United States.

This urry of recalls and the recent warning may have you second-guessing your trusted source of dryeye relief … and, honestly, you should.

“What if I told you that popular over-the-counter drops could potentially make your dull, dry, irritated, red eyes worse?”

That’s the question Winter Garden Ophthalmologist Dr. Mike Imler posed during a West Orange Chamber Networking Meeting, and it got our attention.

Who doesn’t have Visine in the cabinet for those rough mornings, or turned to Lumify to brighten those whites for photoshoots and makeup applications?

According to Dr. Imler, those redness-reliever and brightening drops do, in

fact, work, but that relief may come at a cost when used daily. Your eyes get addicted to the redness remover, making you rely on the drops even more than before to keep your eyes white. Consistent use can lead to infection, rebound hyperemia, permanent redness, pain, swelling, and even vision changes. It can also complicate other eye health issues like glaucoma and cataracts.

“Certainly, the key to eliminating redness naturally is to nd out the real problem,” says Dr. Imler. This could be several things, such as allergies, irritants like smoke or dust, dry eye, stress, lack of sleep, or certain medications. But on those rare occasions when you just need a little extra help, Dr. Imler suggests reaching for Refresh.

“Refresh is a favorite of those in our community because it’s been around a while and it usually never disappoints. This is a nonpreserved arti cial tear that includes no additional chemicals which would irritate the eyes. Would I use it several times a day? Not unless prescribed, but for those occasions when you need a little extra help, it’s the safest option, in my opinion.”


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Herrera Place

Dr. Manny and Katie Herrera reinvent women’s care in Horizon West.

Dr. Manny and Katie Herrera know women, and they know Horizon West. “We’ve both firsthand seen the rapid growth of the area over the last 15 years, and appreciate the need to address women’s needs and aspirations in a comprehensive manner. We are here to finally do that; to care and empower our patients.”

The board-certified OBGYN, body sculpting aesthetic surgeon, and Certified

Nurse Midwife/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner will open Horizons OBGYN & Aesthetics in April, delivering specialty care tailored to women’s changing healthcare needs in every stage of life.

“Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive health services for women all in one place. Patients of any age can get the attention they need for their gynecological needs, aesthetic treatments, and general wellness concerns.”

Many women go to multiple providers to address different aspects of their health or wellness—but Horizons OBGYN & Aesthetics will o er a 360-degree view of each patient’s health all under one roof with the most modern and e ective treatments available.

“With over 30 years of experience in the medical field, we bring the must-have traits of great healers: Knowledge, professionalism, dedication, and strong work ethics,” says

Dr. Herrera. “but most importantly, we listen to our patients, to provide the type of care they need most.”


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Austin Arthur is running for Orange County Commissioner.

Sal Ramos, who is a current Oakland Commissioner, is vying for Oakland Mayor. Iliana Ramos Jones is running for Winter Garden Commissioner District

Two. Chloe Johnson is running for Winter Garden Commissioner District

Three. Four di erent races by four people who know each other very well. They have worked alongside one another in a whole host of volunteer intitatives and on the boards of many not-for-

“It’s a matter of effectiveness. You can only accomplish so much with one voice alone.”

profit organizations.

“We believe in each other. We support each other. We go to one another’s events,” says Commissioner Sal Ramos. “One thing we love doing is hosting community FriendRaisers, and you better believe when Austin, Chloe, or Iliana host theirs, I’m right there helping out however I can.”

Building relationships is the point of it all. Good rela-

tionships between the various communities throughout the area. “We have a shared vision of good infrastructure and retaining our small town charm,” stated Iliana Jones.

West Orange is historically an agricultural area that has developed over time. All four candidates support initiatives such as the preservation of Lake Apopka, the Oakland Nature

Perserve, and are promoters of the strong family culture in West Orange.

“It’s one thing to be for the community. You need to be actively involved in the community to truly know the needs and desires of the residents,” says Austin, “You need a day-to-day focus on the place you call home and all of us bring exactly that to the table. It’s a matter of e ectiveness. You can only accomplish so much with one voice alone. Unified together, much good can be done for Winter Garden, Oakland, and all of West Orange County.”

Promotional feature 82 The Local WINTER GARDEN
We’re not blue. We’re not red. We’re orange. West Orange!
Promotional feature MARCH/APRIL 2024 83

Chloe Johnson

for Winter Garden Commissioner, District 3

Chloe Johnson comes from a multigenerational Winter Garden family. A community advocate, wife, and mother of four, she is running for Winter Garden City Commissioner, District 3. The district primarily consists of the eastern portion of the city south of Plant Street.

District 3’s diversity, encompassing historic neighborhoods and thriving commercial areas, inspires her commitment to bridge communities, prioritize infrastructure, and promote responsible growth coupled with preservation.

Election Information

All registered voters in District 3 Winter Garden are eligible to participate in Chloe’s election on March 19th.

Illiana Jones

for Winter Garden Commissioner, District 2

Iliana Jones has been living in Winter Garden for over 25 years and is in business with both her brothers, including Commissioner Sal Ramos. She has supported many local not-for-profits and is running for Winter Garden City Commission, District 2. The district primarily consists of the northwest portion of the city.

As a commissioner she will prioritize safety, guard against unwanted development, and support the hyperlocal economy by being pro-business. Above all, she will protect the community’s family oriented small-town charm.

Election Information

All registered voters in District 2 Winter Garden are eligible to participate in Iliana’s election on March 19th.

Sal Ramos

for Oakland Mayor

Commissioner Sal Ramos has been an active member of the West Orange community for over 25 years. He first served on the town’s Charter Committee and in 2015 he was elected as a Commissioner for the town. He loves to give back through personal volunteerism and through his successful business owned and operated by him, his brother, and sister Iliana Jones.

As mayor he will labor to keep Oakland quaint, ensure taxes are low, support local businesses, and retain safe family friendly neighborhoods.

Election Information

All registered voters in Oakland are eligible to participate in Sal’s election on March 19th.

Austin Arthur for Orange County Commissioner

Austin Arthur is well known throughout West Orange as a business owner and community advocate. He founded Gymnastics USA and owns a marketing firm in West Orange. He serves on over 12 community boards ranging from the Habitat for Humanity, Eight Waves, Challenge 22 to End Veteran Suicide, and more. Austin will be the common sense, pro-jobs, pro-economic growth commissioner who will also prioritize safe neighborhoods, infrastructure, and preservation of our natural environment.

Election Information

All registered voters in West Orange County are eligible to participate in Austin’s election on August 20th.

Promotional feature 84 The Local WINTER GARDEN

Fact: nationwide craft beer sales are coming to a sobering halt. Beer sales have dropped for the rst time in a decade, and consumers are opting for alternative beverages or going sans alcohol for good.

Also Fact: Winter Garden is the anomaly. Our local brewers refuse to conform to the statistics, and our community claps back at these numbers. Why? Because our breweries o er so much more than delicious, handcrafted, unique beer. They create an experience, not limited to just adults. No matter where you live in Winter Garden, within a 30-minute drive you will nd six local breweries that welcome families, friends, and pets or an inclusive adventure that transcends drinking. It’s now become a lifestyle.

Let’s establish our local players: In Winter Garden, Crooked Can is the OG, a dominant

Amanda Smythe of Toll Road Brewing

Hop Local

Sip, savor, and hop your way through Winter Garden’s thriving craft beer scene.

player in the beer game with their flagship location on Plant Street, and a massive second location coming to Minneola. Grabbing attention from the ever-growing Hamlin area, Home State Brewing offers a refuge in a bustling commercial village. On the outskirts of city limits, Toll Road Brewing in Ocoee and Windermere Brewing Company encapsulate the definition of “small-town brewing” by offering massive charm in small spaces. Last, but not least, Suncreek Brewery and Clermont Brewing Company in Clermont are not only within walking distance of one another, but they provide two different aesthetics for double the hop options.

Let’s talk about things they do that are similar. Trivia and game nights? You got it. Live music? Absolutely. Pet friendly? EVERY LOCATION. Food options? Of course! Alternative beverages to beer? Almost all. But how

they individualize themselves is the true magic of each space.

Whether you opt for the ultimate Winter Garden beer crawl, conquering all six breweries in a day, or prefer to savor the experience throughout the week, enhancing your post-work festivities, the journey is yours to craft.

Toll Road Brewing

Located in the heart of downtown Ocoee, Toll Road is the smallest brewery on our list, but perhaps with the most charm. In the past year, they have added a new biergarten, adding a music stage to their already established covered patio. Their themed trivia is one of the biggest drives, with some of the most interesting topics to entertain all scopes of interest. They o er service industry nights, Sunday Funday bottomless

mimosa specials, and feature di erent food trucks each night to serve the community.

Taproom Manager & Assistant Brewer Amanda Smythe’s favorite pairing: Sun Ryes Rye IPA with blood orange lemon tart

Windermere Brewing Company

Positioned directly behind Dixie Cream Café on Main St, Windermere Brewing Company looks like a small house, blending perfectly into the neighborhood. With an incredible “front yard” and “backyard” area, one can relax on the greens and feel right at home in the neighborhood while sipping beer brewed by owners Joe Ata and Andy McGhee. Featuring food trucks, the small but mighty venue also allows

No matter where you live in Winter Garden, within a 30-minute drive you will find six local breweries…


you to bring your own food to enjoy al fresco. The homey vibes make it feel like you’re relaxing in your own space. On Thursdays, the brewery has a running club that features a complimentary beer upon completion of the course!

Tarin recommends:

Colada Coast Pale Ale with Veggie Pizza from Pizza 14

Home State Brewing

Nestled in the heart of Hamlin, Home State is quite the gem. The brewery is situated right o New Independence Parkway, but you feel miles away from the tra c. Its expansive outdoor seating and open spaces create an inviting atmosphere, providing a sense of retreat that goes beyond the typical brewery experience. Families can enjoy a leisurely day outdoors, with options for card games and board games to entertain both adults and kids. They have their own kitchen available, o ering appetizers, hot dogs and sandwiches every day and brunch options on the weekends. Don’t forget to take a sel e in their unisex bathrooms with

Marco Reyna of Home State Brewing


funky wallpaper. Plus, they take the cake for most creative beer names. (Their delicious pilsner is called “Adults Are Talking” and I’ve never related to anything more.) They have creative events as well, such as a cornhole league and Dungeons and Dragons battles every 3rd Tuesday of the month. And if beer isn’t your thing, worry not. The brewery houses Filigree Co ee Co, a delightful coffee shop within its walls, ensuring that even your non-beer enthusiast friends can join in on the fun. Founder, COO + Head Brewer Marco Reyna’s favorite pairing: “Oh My Gatos!” Florida IPA with Chicago-style Hot Dog

Crooked Can Brewing

This brewery needs no introduction, as they started the culture here in town. Located in Plant St. Market, Crooked Can has the best patio of all time. Engrained in the community, Crooked Can is an integral part of all things in the downtown

Alan Delahunt of Crooked Can Brewing

We see things through your eyes.

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Winter Garden Windermere Dr. Phillips 407-775-0130 Can 45 minutes change your life?


area, and they serve well. Now o ering yoga or barre on select Sundays, you can reward yourself after a solid outdoor workout with a nice cold beer. Golf cart and bikefriendly, they encourage you to reward yourself for that hefty trail ride or easy travel after a hard day. They provide the largest amount of live music of any brewery and have multiple food vendors in their space to satisfy any palette. Notably, Crooked Can has expanded its o erings to include sake, perfectly complementing the sushi available at the two locations within the marketplace.

Managing Partner Alan Delahunt’s favorite pairing: High Stepper with This Little Piggy’s Brisket Sandwich on Texas Toast with Fresh Pork Rinds

Clermont Brewing Company

Perhaps the best part about Clermont Brewing Company is the all-inclusive feel. One of its standout features is the diverse culinary experience it o ers. The kitchen boasts a range of food

…our breweries offer so much more than delicious, handcrafted, unique beer. They create an experience.

genres, ensuring that every member of your group nds something to delight their taste buds. BBQ, pizza, tacos—it’s all fair game. Recognizing that not everyone is a beer enthusiast, they’ve got you covered with a full bar, catering to every palate and preference in your group. The brewery takes entertainment to the next level with a spacious stage that comes alive with full bands on the weekends, creating an incredible and lively environment. Moreover, due to Clermont’s open container allowance, you can freely pour your drink into a plastic cup and venture around the streets comfortably. Each month, they separate from their norm and o er a Latin night with dancing and drink specials!

Tarin recommends:

Kolsch with Seoul Survivor Korean Tacos

Suncreek Brewing

Overlooking the picturesque Lake Minneola, Suncreek is a true brewery through and through. With its warm ambiance, amiable sta , and a selection of well-crafted beers,

you’ll feel right at home. They have three restaurant options inside of the brewery (you’ll recognize Michael’s Ali and Mac’d Out from Plant St. Market) to make sure you’re properly feeding your body as you bask in the outdoor seating area. They’re the most dogfriendly of the bunch, going beyond the norm and o ering dental treats and water bowls for your pups. As friendly neighbors to CBC, the relaxed rules about strolling with your beverages extend to Suncreek Brewery, allowing you to leisurely explore the surroundings with your drink in hand. And with Clermont o ering their farmer’s market on Sundays, it’s the perfect spot to relax and take a break while out shopping and checking out the neighboring town. If you’re looking for a place where the community chooses to spend their time, Suncreek Brewery undoubtedly tops the list, beckoning you to join in the laid-back atmosphere and make lasting memories.

Brewtender Casey Griff in recommends: Moonlight Chocolate Milk Stout and the Reuben. The sauerkraut is infused with the milk stout!



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Dining Guide

Bella Italia Ristorante

13848 Tilden Rd #192, Winter Garden 407-347-3277

At Bella Italia we operate with a deep commitment to hospitality, and building lasting relationships with our guest in the true Italian fashion. We are a family-owned restaurant that welcomes you to sit back, unwind and appreciate the lovely sights in our dining room while our best cuisine experts set you up a mouthwatering dinner.


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Cariera’s Fresh Italian

1041 S. Dillard St., Winter Garden 407-554-3622 /

Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply feeding the family, Cariera’s strives to make every guest feel comfortable enough to laugh out loud, reminisce, and indulge. Heavy with Italian tradition, Cariera’s features timeless favorites, from spaghetti to chicken Saltembocca, white Cacciatore to Eggplant Parmigiana. There’s even a lite menu featuring Keto versions of your Italian favorites!


Taste I Dining Guide

Cilantro Indian Cuisine

360 West Plant St, Ste 103, Winter Garden 407-395-3400 /

“Oh, I don’t like Indian,” you might be saying. “I can’t do spicy food.” But true Indian cuisine is about so much more than spice, and Cilantro is here to prove it. Every entree on Cilantro’s diverse menu can be served mild (as well as medium, hot, and Indian hot), with your choice of meat and a wide selection of vegetarian options. Savor the warmth and richness of Indian cuisine, as mild or as spicy as you like it.

Clermont Brewing Co.

750 W. Desoto St, Clermont 321-430-BEER (2337)

It’s a brewery. It’s an eatery. It’s home to a rotating selection of handcrafted and seasonal brews for every taste. It’s where artisanal dining creations tantalize a wide variety of passionate palates. But more than any of that, Clermont Brewing Co. — CBC to its fans — is proudest of being the place where the community comes together.

Gochi Japanese Kitchen

14195 W. Colonial Dr., Winter Garden 407-877-0050 /

Since 2007, Gochi Japanese Kitchen has been providing the highest-quality Japanese favorites. Raw a la carte options like nigiri, sashimi, and rolls, plus uniquely crafted noodles, yakiniku and yakiyasai bbq grill options. Need space for a special event? Ask about our private dining room and catering options!

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Happy Hour

Hours Tue All Day Wed+Fri 4:30-6:30p

See website for details


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Happy Hour

Wed -Thu 3-6p


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Home of Boyd Street Radio

Pammie’s Sammies

121 S. Boyd St, Winter Garden 407-730-3212 /

Feed the Soul. Craft with Love. Serve from the Heart. That’s the record-setting recipe behind Pammie’s Sammies, a fun sandwich space with funk woven into its atmosphere and baked into every dish. With food that is thoughtfully sourced, earth-friendly, and tastefully adventurous, our menu pairs old family recipes with tasty trends, all to the soundtrack of classic tunes and conversation among friends.


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Get 15% o your order

Mention TheLocal15 at checkout

Peach Cobbler Factory

13848 Tilden Rd Suite 172, Winter Garden

It’s a classic dessert dilemma: no one can agree. Your son wants brownies. Your daughter wants pudding. And you, you’re craving a fresh cobbler with ice cream. Good thing you can get it all under one roof! Satisfy every sweet tooth with cinnamon rolls, puddings, cookies, churro sticks, wa es and so much more — while you get our 12 varieties of warm, delicious cobbler all to yourself. Dessert is solved!


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Triple Rewards Points on Mondays

Poke by Gochi

13770 W. Colonial Dr., Winter Garden 407-347-5091 /

Poke is the bowl of the moment, and no one does it better than Gochi. This fast casual concept by the owners of Gochi Japanese Kitchen uses all the same, high quality ingredients as its sister location, only in a one-bowl concept. Choose from chef crafted options or customize your own with a variety of colorful sauces, piles of crunchy toppings, and a white rice, brown rice, or lettuce base.

Dining Guide I Taste MARCH/APRIL 2024 95

Taste I Dining Guide

Schweini’s Delicatessen

108 S Main St, Winter Garden 407-395-3235 /

The mission of Schweini’s Deli is to make your belly happy by lling it with authentic German beers and hot sandwiches piled high with the best meats. With only the freshest locally sourced ingredients, including house-made cheesecakes, Schweini’s invites you to come in, stay awhile, maybe watch the latest soccer match — and get your fröhlicher bauch on.

STK Steakhouse

1580 Buena Vista Drive, Orlando 407-917-7440

STK is “not your daddy’s steakhouse”—it’s a highenergy ne dining experience, where delectable cuisine and upscale cocktails meet chic décor and an in-house DJ. The menu features reimagined classic American cuisine for lunch, brunch and dinner, with traceable, ethically sourced beef that produces quality craveable steaks.

Thai Blossom

99 W. Plant St., Winter Garden 407-905-9917 /

Your love of Thai will blossom among fragrant curries, silky noodles, stir fries, and grilled meats. Authentic, avorful and always cooked to order Thai Blossom o ers some of the tastiest cuisine in central Florida, right on Plant Street. And plenty of options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals make it the perfect choice for workday lunch, dinner dates, and special celebrations.


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(COMING SOON!) Sat+Sun 7-10am

See website for details

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Foodie Award

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Orlando Sentinel

Readers’ Choice

Dining Awards

Orlando Magazine 3



Clothes Combat

An idiot’s guide to laundry, from an authentic idiot.

Do you hate doing laundry? Cool, me too. Which is a huge bummer, because I love clothes. I wear them all the time, actually, and I bet I’m not the only one. So, I thought I’d use my platform for the public good and share my quick and easy, patent-pending Idiot’s Guide to Laundry. I’ll warn you, my methods are a little unorthodox, but in terms of e ciency, the results speak for themselves.

The rst and most important step is to not. That’s right. Just don’t. See, society is trying to domesticate us, to crush us under the weight of mundanity. Laundry is a tool of the ruling class to keep our hands busy and our minds numb. I refuse to become a washer in the machine.

So yeah, just hang out and do whatever. Honestly,

you might want to bookmark this article and come back to it in your own time, when you feel ready. ***

Feeling ready yet?

Cool, me neither.

Too bad, though, because I’m out of underwear, I’ve been shing work clothes out of the hamper for weeks, and I’ve forgotten what a clean towel feels like. Worst of all, the only way out of this mess is to do the laundry— and now it’s a lot of laundry. There’s a lesson to be learned here, if you’re into that sort of thing. But there’s no sense in looking back now. All we can do is pick ourselves up and get going on step two: the Heap.

Start by scooping up indiscriminate armfuls of clothing from the basket, the oor, the couch, the sink, etc., and dump them

all in a big pile. This is your Heap—an uncurated ouevre of your externalized sense of self, unique to you and to this moment. It’s literally art, so no one’s allowed to say it sucks.

Unfortunately, our art won’t t in the wash hole, so we gotta de-heap it into smaller Heaplets, vaguely categorized by, I don’t know, texture? Color?

Flavor? Whether the tag says rich-people shit like “dry clean only”? The only limit is your imagination.

Measuring laundry soap is easy if you have good spatial awareness, so we’ll grab some laundry pods instead. Man, remember when kids were eating these things? That was crazy, haha. I bet they taste so weird. Imagine sinking your teeth into one. It’d probably pop like a big soap boba. And then all that laundry juice

would come gushing out. Surely just one couldn’t—

Chuck those pods in (quickly), shut the door, and turn that big honkin’ laundry dial to whichever setting best suits the vibe. I usually go for “casual” because I’m a pretty chill gal. There are some other buttons on there, but I don’t think they do anything.

At last, we can slam that shiny “start” button and pour ourselves a drink because your laundry is hella done. Or, it’s hella started. Which is basically the same thing.

Well, there you have it! An e cient laundry routine that’s so easy, only an idiot could do it. I hope you enjoy trying this at home. Oh, and if you have any constructive feedback that would make this routine even better, please keep it to yourself.

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