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Contents Table of




In this special issue, we put the spotlight on our city’s small business owners. Enjoy stories of multi-generational businesses and meet young entrepreneurs just kick-starting the next chapter in their lives.


Five years ago, Michael Wilson opened a music store to provide a space for young musicians to hone their craft and to sell gear. This past July, Wilson and his fiance Amanda Doroslavoc opened The Industry, an eatery & entertainment venue. Meet the young couple as their passion for music and great food are coming together in downtown.




FOCUS PLANT CITY / Issue 19-09 / September 2020


Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft


Chandler Workman

Crystal Colegrove




Anthony Sassano

Candy Owens

Tony DeVane


Angela Ardrey Anthony Bolesta Cheryl Johnston Sherrie Mueller Emily Topper


Candy Owens Heather Davis Gil Gott Natalie Sweet

Got a story idea? Looking to advertise in Focus? Contact us for more information. Floyd Publications, Inc. 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.Plant City, FL 33563 Office 813.707.8783 Standards of accuracy: The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-warming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us. So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 7078783 or e-mail The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.








Publisher This year has been challenging for all small businesses. Our small business owners are neighbors in our community. They’re the sponsor of city little league teams and the first to step up in support of charity events. Small business owners deserve recognition for their contribution to our local economy; small businesses create jobs and according to the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every $100 spent with them. We hope this month’s issue inspires you to shop small, shop local, and support your neighbors. September is here and at that magazine office, that means we continue to shine a spotlight on small business. As we navigate the remainder of 2020, Plant City’s small business owners will be at the forefront of shaping our community as we know it. Meet 30 entrepreneurs as they present the businesses that make up our region. From realtors to restaurants, Plant City’s business




community is vibrant and thriving as the city prepares for growth over the next 20 years. On the cover, we feature Michael Wilson and Amanda Doroslovac of The Industry and Dark Horse Music Store. It’s inspiring to see a young couple invested in the future of downtown, Plant City’s dining scene, and live entertainment. Learn more about the two businesses and how The Industry is serving up classic dishes with a modern twist in the heart of downtown. As always, our office wants to hear from you; if you have story ideas, please call our office at 813-707-8783 or email our editor Cierra Craft at cierra@ It’s our goal to continue to present content of interest each month. Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd



WHAT EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men. It occurs mainly in older men, with two out of three men diagnosed at age 65 or older. Prostate cancer can be serious disease but most men do not die from it. 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed during his lifetime. About 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed. More then 2.5 million American men who were diagnosed at some point in their lives are still alive today. African-American men are about 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime than Caucasian or Hispanic men. Men with an immediate blood relative, such as father or brother, who has had prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease. A diet high in saturated fat, as well as obesity, increases the risk of prostate cancer.

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HOPE Pastor Shares Story of

after Surviving COVID-19 By Cierra Craft

“I had a 20% life expectancy,” said Carlos Pagan, 36, pastor of The Nazarene church of Brandon and owner of Plant City’s MyTown Barber Shop. Two months ago, Pastor Pagan was diagnosed with Pneumonia at the top of his lungs. A few days later, he couldn’t breathe and was rushed to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, where he was admitted to the ICU and tested positive for COVID-19. “The doctor told me I needed to sign two forms, one so they could induce a coma and the other agreeing to take an experimental drug that had worked for other patients. The doctor said it was the only option for my case.” Hours before intubation, a nurse coached Pagan through breathing exercises to help him relax, postponing intubation while he was under observation. The next day, he was told his condition wasn’t getting any better. He communicated with his wife via text and often said he was alone in the patient room unless a nurse came into to see him. While he says he didn’t suffer most of the common physical symptoms of COVID-19, such as loss of taste and smell- he did experience hallucinations. “I had thoughts of fear, and then I reminded myself God has a promise for me and my life,” said Pagan. “I haven’t seen His promise fulfilled, and I knew it wasn’t my last day. I kept reminding myself of this, and it pushed me through.” He was placed on oxygen, and a few days later, his condition improved. He created a Facebook Live video, which garnered 80,000 views. He said he received thousands of messages from strangers from around the world praying for him. He was hospitalized for ten days total, but he now suffers permanent lung damage; somedays he can jog, and other days, he finds walking from the front door of the barbershop to his station is a struggle, but he is grateful God allowed him to live. He returned to the barbershop two weeks after he was released from the hospital. On August 24, he teamed up with Pastor Francisco Ayala at New Beginnings Church in Lakeland to distribute 100 boxes of groceries to families in need in the Plant City community. Each box contained dairy, eggs, meat, and more. Despite experiencing quite a dark moment in his life, he didn’t question for one second helping the community. When asked why he felt compelled to organize the food pantry distribution, he simply replied, “why not?” PAGE


“What we are going through presently in life does not determine our future, our actions determine our future,” said Pagan. “I wanted to help others have hope, especially with what we’re all going through right now.” He hopes his story inspires others to find hope in dark times. “Reality and truth are two different things,” said Pagan. “Reality is your personal experience in a situation. Truth goes beyond that, and truth always holds you, not based on what you’re living, but based on what you believe in. The Bible says, “With all who live, there is hope.” No matter what you’re going through, there is hope, if there is life, and there is truth.”




RAOK Named USF Fast 56 On September 11, RAOK Boutique founder Hannah Benton was named a recipient of the 2020 University of South Florida Fast 56. According to USF, the Fast 56 “identifies, recognizes, and celebrates the world's 56 fastest-growing USF Bull-owned or Bull-led businesses.” RAOK-Random Acts of Kindness- was founded by Benton and her mother, Brigitte, in 2014. RAOK offers stylish clothing, accessories, and gifts. Benton graduated from USF in 2011 with a degree in Political Science, and she is currently a USF Alumni Association Life Member. Before opening RAOK, Benton worked for the USF Foundation and felt God had a different path for her and her mother. Brigitte came around to the idea, and in December 2014, the mother-daughter pair opened the boutique.

“The award is for the boutique, I went to USF, so I was named, but we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful team,” said Benton. According to USF President Steve Currall, sixteen companies were first-timers to the Fast 56 program, RAOK being among this year’s honorees. “We are so proud RAOK was named and recognized this year,” the boutique shared via Facebook. “Thanks to each of YOU for continuing to support RAOK. Go Bulls!!!”

Pelican’s Snoballs Celebrates its First Anniversary On Saturday, September 5, Pelican’s Snoballs held its First Anniversary Celebration. The business, located at 610 S. Collins Street, held the event from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., giving away prizes every hour. The company, owned by Greg and Billie Jo Davis, is a family-friendly establishment serving over 100 flavors of New Orleans-style Shaved Ice (known as Snoballs) and 12 flavors of Hershey’s Ice Cream.

“One year ago, we had our grand opening, and this year has exceeded our expectations in every way,” the Davis family shared on Facebook. “We want to say thank you to all of you for your support! We can’t wait to make more great memories with our wonderful town & customers this year.” Hungry Howie’s of Plant City sent pizza to Pelican’s in congratulations for the first anniversary, and bluegrass band Duck Wallow Lane performed live from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Customers were encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit on the patio, enjoy a Snoball, and listen to live entertainment. Despite the torrential downpours that came through the area that evening, the patio was at the allowed capacity, with lawn games available for the kids. Following the celebration, Pelican’s Snoballs announced the September 18th release of their limited edition Fall Flavors: Toffee, S’mores, Candy Corn, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Apple Pie A La Mode.





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Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET

W 16th.

alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held virtually the third Monday of each month. You can Livestream or Teleconference the conference by signing in to www.WaldenLake. org. The next meetings are scheduled for October 19th and November

Having food trucks in Walden Lake at the HOA office/sports complex, has been a big hit with many residents. The HOA has expanded to two days per month. The 2nd Friday and last Sunday of each month. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood will be back on Sunday, September 27th. You can enjoy a fabulous grouper sandwich, mahi tacos, fried shrimp, a crabby chicken or patty sandwich and more! You will not be disappointed. For information on what is happening with the development of Walden Lake golf course, you can visit under the “News” tab. The latest information is a communication from the City of Plant City dated July 2, 2020. To this date, no response has been made by the developer, Walden Lake LLC. You can also visit the City’s website at During the month of August, there were 22 sales in Walden Lake and 1 sale in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $297,265 with an average of 22 days on the market. One home sold in Polo Place and if you eliminate that property, the statistics change to averages of $277,145 with 15 days on the market.

The August sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 2714 Golf Lake Drive / $201,000 / 1283 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3116 Emerson Place / $204,300 / 1463 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4314 Barret Avenue / $205,000 / 1402 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4108 Thackery Way / $214,000 / 1234 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3478 Silver Meadow Way / $220,000 / 1408 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3321 Michener Place / $220,000 / 1471 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2112 Sycamore Lane / $234,000 / 1906 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3323 Silvermoon Drive / $242,000 / 1789 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4123 Longfellow Drive / $260,000 / 1600 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2940 Spring Hammock Drive / $260,000 / 2012 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 1760 Brookstone Way / $274,000 / 1850 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 3203 Kilmer Drive / $282,000 / 1805 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 4108 Barret Avenue / $287,500 / 2373 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2908 Aston Avenue / $290,000 / 2617 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2925 Spring Hammock Drive / $305,000 / 2186 Sq’ / No / 3 Car 2839 Hammock Drive / $324,900 / 2199 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2912 Forest Club Drive / $329,500 / 2652 Sq’ / No / 3 Car 2705 Laurel Oak Drive / $330,000 / 2229 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3306 Cummings Place / $331,000 / 2159 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2926 Spring Hammock Drive / $339,000 / 2198 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3311 Cummings Place / $355,000 / 2573 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 2702 Forest Club Drive / $389,000 / 3028 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 3201 Polo Place / $739,900 / 5244 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car There are currently 11 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average list price of $395,045 and an average of 56 days on the market. One of these listings is in Polo Place and if you eliminate this listing, the statistics change the averages to $344,550 and 12 days on the market. There are 23 properties Pending Contract with an average list price of $287,987 and average of 18 days on the market. The real estate market is hot due to a lack of inventory, and interest rates are extremely low, making this not only a great time to sell but also a fantastic time to purchase. Can you buy or sell during the pandemic? Yes, absolutely! Real Estate is considered an essential service and The Sweet Team at Keller Williams Realty is still working, while following CDC guidelines for ourselves and clients safety. If you are interested in the most current statistics or any questions regarding this article, feel free to reach out to me. or 813-758-9586. PAGE




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BRINGING MUSIC & FOOD TO DOWNTOWN’S FOREFRONT By Cierra Craft Industry \ ˈin-(ˌ)də-strē \ (noun): manufacturing activity as a whole; work devoted to a particular subject or pursuit. When Michael Wilson and Amanda Doroslovac opened The Industry in July 2020, they knew that they were working towards a specific pursuit: To create a modern entertainment venue in downtown Plant City that serves delicious, unique foods. But for this young couple, Plant City is “the industry” as they bring all of the facets of our community together into one place. From locally grown sourced ingredients in their food to decor created by locals, The Industry is a place where people of all walks of life are welcome to gather to enjoy handcrafted meals and local live performances. But in the theme of coming together, Wilson and Doroslovac are also bringing their new venture together with their first venture, Dark Horse Music Store. Created to serve the artistic youth in our community with lessons and founded as a used instrument store, Dark Horse is the foundation of our city’s music scene. Now, the two businesses are coming together as the platform for great food, great entertainment, and making a mark on the downtown scene. The Industry is already making a splash with The Industrial Shake, a large milkshake topped with a slice of cake and a sparkler. The restaurant's movie nights for families has proved popular in the eight weeks it's been open. Meet Michael Wilson and Amanda Doroslovac as they share their passion for food, music, and Plant City.

Top Photo The Industry has already become a popular spot for flavored iced lattes. At the eatery, lattes are handshaken and poured over ice. Bottom Photo Dark Horse Music Store embodies an appreciation for entertainment and talent with a laid back vibe. Wilson said customers who frequent Dark Horse often say they feel the same energy when they visit The Industry and he hopes The Industry becomes known throughout the Tampa Bay region as a place that respects entertainers and talent. PAGE


Share with readers a bit about yourselves? Wilson: I was born and raised here in Plant City and grew up in our family business; my parents own Strawberry Hut. I have a love for music and I wanted to make Plant City a platform, a destination known for its music scene. Doroslovac: My family is Serbian and our culture is very Mediterranean, so food is super essential to our lives. Growing up, food was super important to us and I knew at about 7-years-old that I wanted to be a chef and I wanted to spend my life in the kitchen. I started working at a young age and knew one day, I wanted to have a restaurant.

Michael, who inspired your musical passions? Wilson: Definitely my mom. She plays piano in church and she started me at 8-years-old playing piano, then I learned drums, and finally, I started teaching music lessons to kids. What inspired you two to open The Industry? Wilson: We have wanted to serve food for a long time and a lot of people don’t know that we were serving drinks through concessions at Dark Horse for years. We outgrew that space and knew we had to make a restaurant a reality. It’s helpful that Dark Horse is now two doors down and that The Industry and Dark Horse are now two separate businesses. We are able to generate creativity within the two businesses individually. We are able to bring music and food not previously seen before to Plant City. Doroslovac: Everything served at The Industry is something we both like to eat, there isn’t anything on this menu we personally would not eat. So it’s a reflection of both of us with the food and the music platform. Where did the name The Industry come from? Doroslovac: If you look up “Industry” in the dictionary, it literally means to come together for a common goal, so that represents bringing together Dark Horse Music Store and this project. Everything in The Industry, from the decor, the tables, the food, is all locally source, it’s all local as possible. On our stage, you’ll see local artists, the ingredients in our food is locally grown, our tables were made locally. Really, Plant City is “the industry” because this space brings do facets of Plant City together under one roof. What food is on the menu? What can guests expect to see on the menu? Doroslovac: We take classic favorites and put a modern twist on them. We encourage anyone who hasn’t tried our food yet to come in and they’re sure to see familiar classics on our menu, they may be presented in a different way. It was influenced by our families and what we like to eat. We have to go to places in Tampa or Orlando, but now we have it in Plant City. We offer breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and during that time, we offer waffles, omelets, and southern comfort foods like biscuits and gravy. After 10:30 a.m., we begin serving lunch and one thing we offer is the Chef’s Special. The special will be different every visit, but it’s pretty much just something we decided to make for that day or that week only highlighting local food. Guests can get details from their servers about our Chef’s Special.

TOP PHOTO Owners Amanda Doroslavoc & Michael Wilson are excited to welcome Plant City residents to an immersive entertainment and dining experience at The Industry while staying true to their roots in music. BOTTOM PHOTO At Dark Horse, customers can sell or buy used music equipment including guitars, amps, and more.



FOOD PHOTO (LEFT) The Industry offers a menu of classics, presented in a unique way or with a modern twist. Flatbreads and sandwiches are among the most popular entrees. GUITAR PHOTO (ABOVE) If guitar or drums aren’t for you, perhaps a ukulele, a small guitar-like instrument. Compared to guitars or banjos, “ukes” are extremely lightweight and easily portable. PAGE


Dark Horse Music Store sells used gear and offers lessons to students in developing their music skills. The Industry has a stage for live entertainment and creates a platform for musicians to showcase their work. How are the two businesses coming together? Wilson: The dream is to be recognized all over the area and be known as a venue that respects talent and entertainers on a mutual level. While we love music, we want to tap into movies, community events, and have speaking engagements. We are open to having any type of entertainment or music here as long as it is family-friendly and isn’t offensive. We want people to call ahead, excited about what we’re doing, and ask “what’s going on tonight on the stage?” Dark Horse recently moved locations from Drane Street to Collins Street. What was the inspiration behind the move? What is new at Dark Horse? Wilson: The new location has downsized in space but we’ve upsized the business. With the closure of COVID-19, we had about 30 days between closing and moving. This time really let us refocus and rechannel. Now we sell all used, refurbished gear and accessories. Our staff is just awesome and truly they’re the best people. A lot of them volunteered their time to help us move locations. We offer a discount between Dark Horse and The Industry to customers to shop between locations. Michael, How are Dark Horse Music Store and The Industry reflections of you and Amanda? Wilson: A lot of people say the energy is similar between each other and I like that customers feel a similar vibe. Amanda worked at Dark Horse for two years and we had always talked about opening a restaurant and finally, we decided to just do it. We had to get passed that fear of failing. If you give 100% to anything, it’ll work… I saw a void for a music store in Plant City and I’m a bit of a risk-taker; I could jump off a cliff and I’d figure it out on the way down. None of this- Dark Horse or The Industry- would be possible without Ray & Debi Delfino, who believed in me 5 years ago and took a gamble on me. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.

The Industry

119 S Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 756-6955 Mon-Thurs 8AM to 9PM, Fri & Sat 8AM to 10PM, Sun Closed

Dark Horse Music Store

105 S Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-5269 Mon- Sat 11AM to 8PM, Sun Closed

TOP PHOTO Guests can enjoy shareable platters, such as The Industry’s charcuterie boards. The boards consist of fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, and more. BOTTOM PHOTO Michael Wilson opened a music store in Plant City five years ago. Today, Dark Horse serves as Plant City’s only music equipment location and offers lessons for youth. Wilson and Doroslavoc knew they wanted a stage at The Industry to provide an entertainment platform for local musicians, singers, and speakers. PAGE








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People of Plant City

Eric Randall By Emily Topper


he higher the hair, the closer to God. That’s the motto of Eric Randall, who works as a hairstylist at TEASE Hair Studio in Plant City. After graduating from Durant High School in 2007 and attending cosmetology school, the popular hairdresser has made a name for himself in Plant City by turning his passion into a career. You’ve lived in Plant City/Dover most of your life. What were your favorite things to do growing up? Growing up, I was a Little League cheerleader for the Turkey Creek Trojans. My dad would take us to the alligator farm (now Dinosaur World), which was one of my favorite places to go as a kid. What first got you interested in cosmetology? In high school, i always did my friends’ hair



and makeup just for fun. So when graduation was around the corner, I knew I wasn’t the college type. My mother talked me into going to cosmetology school. I enjoy blow drying hair probably the most. What is your favorite place to visit in Plant City? One place you can always find me is Roots Tap Room & Wine Bar. I love the diversity it has to offer. What local activities have you participated in? I’ve been in Dancing With the Locals twice. Even won once. What is a business or event you would like to see Plant City have in the future? I would love to see more cultural events in

our community. Maybe more events that can help our community grow more as one. You’ve made a quarantine buddy and adopted a dog! What inspired you to adopt? BINX! He’s the best part of 2020 by far! I never really pictured myself having a pet, but the more time I spent alone, I realized I needed a companion for sure. I went on the Humane Society website and he was on there with his cute cross eyes. It was a Sunday when I saw him on the site, and I called everyday to make sure he was there. I went on a Friday when I got off work early and we’ve been together ever since! He’s a lot of work, but it warms my heart that he has found a home with me.





Want to become a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce? Businesses may join the Chamber online by visiting or by calling the office at (813) 754- 3707.

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Did You Know? Plant City’s Historic Black Communities By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives


wo historically significant Black communities in the Plant City area are Bealsville, founded by freed slaves shortly after the end of the Civil War in 1865, and Plant City’s Laura Street business and residential community which began as early as 1915. The end of the Reconstruction era in 1877 began the unraveling of gains the Black population had achieved since the end of the war in 1865. It is notable that, because of segregation, Blacks “were relatively free from white interference where they could develop their own communities, economically and culturally. Plant City’s black community reflects both the initiative and inventiveness of its citizens and the oppression of segregation.” This is seen both in the agricultural-based Bealsville community and the economically mixed community which grew up around the Laura Street business district. By the late 1800s there were clear signs of the institutional development of separate Black communities. Their major foundations were built around churches – the Antioch Baptist Church in Bealsville (1868) and the Allen Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1893) in the Laura Street community. The next layer of the communities’ foundations was their schools. Shortly after the construction of Antioch Baptist Church (Bealsville), in 1868, a school was started inside the church building. In 1875 the community residents built a one-room log cabin school, which continued for the next 70 years. Antioch Baptist Church, its school, and its cemetery were constructed on land donated by Alfred Beal and in 1923 the community became Bealsville. The Laura Street community in Plant City also focused on education and, following the Allen Chapel built in 1893, “a school of some variety was in operation for Plant City’s black children as early as 1898.” The community school continued in operation until about 1909-1914 when the first public school for Blacks was built in Plant City. This school evolved into Midway Academy in 1920. The school continued to evolve, and the higher grades became Marshall High School in 1949 and later the lower grades became Lincoln Elementary School.



By 1932 the Bealsville community organized to build a new school. They raised over $1,100 and, this time with the partnership of the school board, built a new three-room school on ten acres donated by William Glover. The school was later renamed Glover School and operated as a school for Black children until about 1972 when it became a racially integrated sixth-grade center and kindergarten. By the mid-1900s these two communities had developed their own unique characteristics and institutions. Bealsville was primarily agricultural and the Laura Street community had its own commerce – restaurants, theatres, grocery stores, barbers and hair salons, rooming houses, bars and night clubs, a Black Masonic lodge, a funeral home, a taxi service, a number of well-attended churches, and more. Many residents of these communities attended their local schools, developed full professional careers, and became prominent citizens. Two examples of the products of these communities are Elijah Lutrell (E. L.) Bing, Jr. and Dr. Sam Horton, Jr. Elijah L. Bing, Jr. was born in the Laura Street community about 1921 and attended Midway Academy and completed high school at Washington Park High School in Lakeland, graduating in 1939. Bing served in the U.S. Army and upon his return he completed his undergraduate education at Florida A&M University. He received his master’s degree in education at Columbia University in New York City. Bing returned to Plant City and served as principal at the Glover School from 1949 to 1954 and then at the all-Black Marshall High School from 1954 to 1967. In 1967 he was named Director of Federal Projects for the Hillsborough School District and later became an Assistant School Superintendent. Bing also was appointed to a vacancy on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners. After his retirement he assumed the position of Provost of the Hillsborough Community College Ybor City Campus. Dr. Sam Horton, Jr., born in 1929, grew up in Bealsville and attended the Glover School then Midway Academy. He received his B.A. degree from Florida A&M University and later completed his doctoral studies at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Horton taught in local schools from 1949 until

becoming principal at Lincoln Elementary in 1965. When E. L. Bing left Marshall High School to take the position with the school district, Dr. Horton took over as principal at Marshall, where he was responsible for implementing the integration program. In 1978 Dr. Horton was appointed general director for secondary education for the Hillsborough School District, where he served until retiring in 1991. The communities of Bealsville and Laura Street are memorialized by two structures, both related to the lives of these men. They are the Glover School in Bealsville and the Bing House Museum and Cultural Center at Allen and Laura Streets. These men and structures symbolize the spirit and the culture of the historically significant communities of Bealsville and Laura Street— communities Plant City can be proud of. Sources: James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me; Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, Plant City; Its Origin and History; U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places; The Tampa Tribune; Tampa Bay Times; Plant City Photo Archives and History Center. Some of the data and comments are derived from a thesis written by Mark W. Kerlin, a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, titled Plant City, Florida, 1885-1940: A Study in Southern Urban Development and written in 2005. We have added some of his analyses to our data collection.



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62. Maggie Beard, REALTOR®

82. Smokin' Aces BBQ & Steakhouse

42. South Florida Baptist Hospital

64. Nick's Pizzaria & Wings

84. Strawberry Hut

44. Broke & Poor

66. Norma's

86. The Crossing Church

46. Centerstate Bank

68. Octopus Car Wash

88. V.E.V. Fitness & Nutrition

48. Haught Funeral Home

70. Paw-Berries Dog Bandanas

90. Wishing Well Barn

50. Hillsboro Bank

72. Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products

92. El Mirasol

52. Home Protection Pest Control

74. Plant City Pediatrics

94. Harvest Meat Market

54. Hungry Howies

76. Plant City Rentals

96. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant

56. ITEX of Tampa Bay

98. Uncle G's Bed & Biscuit

58. Life Family Church

78. Raulerson, Castillo and Company CPAS and Consultants, LLC

60. Linda Buck

80. Rooted Property Maintenance PAGE




Local Advice & Internet Price

That’s what customers receive when they shop at Aim Lighting. Owner Steve Lambert draws on decades of experience to hand select the finest brands in light fixtures and fans. Often, people believe shopping local is more expensive than Big Box stores, but at Aim Lighting, clients receive the personalized customer service of shopping small while receiving the best deal possible. Aim Lighting was founded in 1996 on Highway 92. Moving from two previous Highway 92 locations, Lambert brought his business to the heart of historic downtown at 114 South Collins Street. Aim Lighting shares a parking lot with Krazy Kup, Whistle Stop and Palm Cove’s leasing office. Conveniently located on Collins Street in historic downtown, Aim Lighting provides superior lighting, ceiling fans, chandeliers, pendant lights, and more. Whether customers are replacing existing lighting features or building their custom dream home, Aim Lighting works daily to make the lighting and fan buying experience a pleasure. Lambert is always searching for brands that are a great value for the dollar. Brands include Aladdin Light Lift, Acclaim, Capital, Cal Lighting, Dale Tiffany, Ekana Millwork, Kenroy, Kichler, Elan, Millennium Lighting, and PAGE


more. Visit Aim Lighting’s inventory showroom or browse their catalogs with the help of Lambert. “If you like shopping here, please tell someone,” said Lambert. “If you don’t like shopping here, please tell me.” In addition to being a lighting expert, Lambert also showcases his handcrafted art at Aim. His showroom holds a display of Trees of Life, made of 12-gauge steel wall art pieces specifically designed for the customer. The custom trees can be crafted at any dimension and can also be made to sit on a flat surface. “When designing the trees, the customers always share the story behind the trees they want,” said Lambert. “I expect each of them to be an heirloom. No two are exactly alike.” Aim Lighting is a full-service lighting company with a quaint showroom and a huge heart for guiding customers in their lighting decor needs. Whether a customer is looking for modern farmhouse lighting fixtures for the front porch or a glamorous crystal chandelier for the foyer of their commercial property, Aim Lighting’s knowledgeable team will guide the buyer in selecting just the right fixture.

Aim Lighting has a full spectrum of products and services to meet your needs with

“Local Advice & Internet Price.” Lighting | Outdoor Lights | Ceiling Fans Track Lighting | Light Bulbs | Medallions Chandeliers | Crystal Chandeliers | Pendant Lights Floor Lamps

114 S Collins St, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 707-8858 | Mon - Fri: 11:00AM - 4:00PM | Sat: 10:00AM - 2:00PM | Other Hours Available By Appointment PAGE




During the pandemic, you should not hesitate about going to the ER for an emergency.

South Florida Baptist Hospital Urges Quick Action in an Emergency South Florida Baptist Hospital’s message is clear and resolute. If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or some other health emergency, DO NOT WAIT, DO NOT HESITATE. Get to the hospital, get to the emergency room. This message has been repeated by health systems and hospitals across the country as people with symptoms are showing hesitancy or reluctance to come to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need for speed during these instances. Any lost time from care of a heart attack or stroke can have harmful and long-lasting effects. “Our hospital is probably the safest place to be,” said Karen Kerr, South Florida Baptist Hospital president. “We do COVID symptom screenings PAGE


Angela Cole, an environmental services team member, carefully cleans an empty patient room preparing it for the next patient.

“BayCare has rolled out enhanced cleaning procedures and we work hand-inhand with infection control so our hospital has the strongest lines of defense,” said Michael Matesich, South Florida Baptist Hospital’s EVS manager. Kerr said the cleaning measures take on even more importance as the hospital is now allowing visitors on a limited basis as of September 9. Armed with these procedures, protocols and tools, Kerr said people should not be apprehensive about coming to the hospital. “Staying home or waiting could lead to tragedy,” she said. “We’re prepared here for everything including a pandemic.”

South Florida Baptist Hospital Announces Relocation Plans While the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the headlines since March, South Florida Baptist Hospital announced big news on August 10. The hospital is moving to a new Plant City location. Environmental services manager Michael Matesich with “Trudy,” a cleaning robot that attacks infectious cells.

The proposed new location is off Exit 22 of I-4, east of the intersection of E. Sam Allen Road and N. Park Road. This is a highly visible location in a high growth area, less than four miles from the current North Alexander Street location.

of every person entering our hospital for care. Patients showing COVID symptoms are separated and isolated into designated areas in both ER and inpatient areas. Hospital staff and team members are also COVID screened and outfitted with personal protective equipment to protect themselves and patients. Masks are also worn by patients. We follow social distancing, handwashing and hygiene practices. Every protocol is being taken to ensure safety.”

The plan calls for building up to 150 private patient rooms with the ability to add another 30 in future expansion. A medical office building also is proposed at the new location. Project cost is approximately $326 million.

Mindy Latstetter, South Florida Baptist’s ER manager, believes people’s biggest fear is that they’ll be in close proximity to COVID patients.

“After 67 years, we have run out of room to expand the hospital on its present site,” Kerr said. “Also, retrofitting the hospital’s infrastructure to meet the growing technological advances in health care solutions is often an expensive and challenging option. Because of that, we feel that to better meet the growing needs of our community, we need to relocate and build a new hospital.”

“People should not be afraid about coming to the hospital,” Latstetter said. “We don’t want people staying home and getting more ill when they are experiencing any kind of emergency. People just want to know that they will not be near or close to COVID patients or patients with symptoms. We’ve gone to great lengths to create this separation. There is no crossing between those two populations.” All areas of South Florida Baptist Hospital, including the ER, patient rooms, ICUs, surgery areas, treatment rooms and waiting areas are meticulously and repeatedly being cleaned and disinfected by the hospital’s environmental services team (EVS). Strict infection prevention controls are in place and special chemicals, sanitizers and hydrogen peroxide wipes are in use. The hospital goes as far as removing curtains in exam rooms after each patient and replacing them with cleaned curtains for the next patient. EVS cleaning and disinfecting teams are getting assistance from unique technology, a germ-killing robot nicknamed “Trudy” that uses ultraviolet light energy to attack infectious cells so they cannot reproduce. Trudy is short for Tru-D Smart UVC, Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfection.

Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2021 and take about 30 months to complete. Since a whole new hospital will be built, there will be no disruption to patients, physicians or staff at the current hospital.

Kerr said the proposed 420,000 square-foot hospital is approximately double the space of the current site. “We’re very excited to provide a new state-of-the art facility for the Plant City community as we continue to expand and grow,” Kerr said. “It will be a revelation for team members and patients who come to us for care.”

Rendering of the proposed new hospital in Plant City.

301 N. Alexander St. | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 757-1200 | ER Open 24 Hours PAGE



BROKE & POOR Broke & Poor Surplus Building Materials, located at 2670 E. U.S. Highway 92, has everything you need to complete your home renovation project at an affordable rate. With over 30 years in the industry, Broke & Poor offers cabinets, doors & windows, wood paneling, and countertops. Owner Ted Brock said the business started after his father retired from the finance industry, and his mom retired from the railroad industry. The couple had rental properties and never threw anything away that could be used for another property. When those sold their rental properties in the late 80s, they were left with a warehouse of surplus building materials; they decided to open the warehouse to the public, and it took off from there. “It was a hit among contractors and homeowners looking to save a few dollars when remodeling their home,” said Brock. Broke & Poor specializes in mobile home products like cabinetry, plumbing PAGE


supplies, paneling, and more as well as products for high-end home building projects such as kitchens, windows, and doors. Broke & Poor stocks for quality products, keeping American-made in mind; cabinets are made of solid wood and come ready to assemble in any color. Cabinets at Broke & Poor are about the same price as particleboard cabinets at other stores. When customers shop at Broke & Poor, Brock says they’re often surprised at the inventory. “We are kind of an eclectic business because we sell antiques, building materials (new and used), steps, carports, screen rooms, even clawfoot tubs,” said Brock. “There are many times customers come in for the first time and say ‘I had no idea y’all have this much stuff,’ or ‘I had no idea y'all install Quartz/Granite countertops." Broke & Poor offers materials for carports and screen rooms, as well. Stop in to discuss your needs for a new carport or screened room; Broke & Poor has the supplies you need to get your project started. Add storage space, protection for your vehicle, or more space to enjoy with the family. Customers have trusted Broke & Poor for years when purchasing building materials and speak highly of the family-owned business in online reviews. One shopper said, “I have done business with Broke and Poor for several years. They are my go-to place for Windows, doors, vinyl siding/trim.” This customer was shocked by the savings when comparing Big Box store prices to Broke & Poor: “If they got it or can get it, it will be less than the big box stores. I just want a picture window to replace one window. The Best deal the Big box stores could do was $890, and Broke and Poor were able to order

it for $199, with double pan, Argon gas filled also. WOW, what a difference in price. Chris that works at Broke and Poor is a real help there.” This customer said she turned to Broke & Poor after a hurricane: “Great place to buy items to repair your hurricane-damaged home! Windows are much cheaper and stormproof, just like large manufacture windows.” While Broke & Poor doesn’t employ installers, the company recommends local contractors who are best for the customer’s project needs. “We set up installation for our complete kitchen installs with quartz or granite with local contractors who, in my opinion, are the best in the industry,” said Brock. “Having been in business for over 30 years, we have developed relationships with contractors licensed to do just about anything, whether it be screen room installation, door/window install, plumbing, or just regular handyman services. We only refer to contractors that do good work because the quality is important to our customers and us.” Whether you’re a homeowner looking to add value to your home or a contractor looking for inexpensive building materials, the knowledgeable staff at Broke & Poor is ready to help you. They are knowledgeable in construction, plumbing, and remodeling. Let the experts at Broke & Poor Surplus Building Materials help you with every project you are planning.

2670 E US Highway 92 | Plant City, FL 33564 | 813-752-3378 | Mon-Sat 8:30 AM to 5 PM | Sun Closed PAGE



CENTERSTATE BANK Catching Up With CenterState Bank. Plant City has grown over the past two decades, and CenterState Bank has also grown and evolved to meet the needs of local customers and businesses. CenterState Bank entered the Plant City market when it purchased Valrico State Bank in 2006, and then significantly expanded its presence when it purchased Sunshine Bancorp (aka Sunshine Bank / formerly Sunshine State Federal Savings and Loan) and Platinum Bank in 2017. While the name, “CenterState Bank,” may only be a few years old in Plant City, some clients have accounts that date as far back as the 1980s. Each day, a dedicated team of CenterState bankers and staff strive to deliver the best banking solutions in the market while providing the personal touch that clients expect and deserve. Banking has changed over the past 10 years. The evolution of online banking provided customers greater access to their accounts, but also created new opportunities for fraud and theft. Like other retailers, banks had to bolster its protection of clients’ sensitive information with improved products and processes. Government regulation and oversight expanded over the years, and in particular after the 2008 financial market collapse, which created higher costs for the entire financial industry. CenterState’s strategy to acquire like-minded and well-run community banks throughout Florida allowed it to remain competitive while providing innovative and safe banking solutions to its communities. PAGE


Then COVID struck. Almost overnight, the banking world changed. • *CenterState’s most basic customer experience - the teller line became functionally unavailable to our clients. • Local, vibrant businesses that had bright futures were suddenly “non-essential” or had a drastic reduction in revenues. • Like many local employees, branch personnel suddenly faced the challenges of their children transitioning to “remote learning” or had to tend to the health and safety of their family. Despite these challenges, this dramatic event revealed the strength of CenterState’s core values and commitment to the community. • CenterState is the only bank in Plant City with two branches, with each branch having full-service drive-through lanes. Despite losing those face-to-face interactions with clients, staff was still able to serve clients with these drive-through facilities. Further, CenterState recently launched the ability to open new personal accounts online. The process is secure, simple, and convenient. • CenterState’sTreasury Management services, such as Remote Deposit Capture and online banking, allow customers to manage their banking and run their business without visiting a branch. • CenterState’s local commercial lenders and support staff worked with CenterState’s Plant City business clients to provide over $16 million of Paycheck Protection Program loans, with loan amounts ranging between a few thousand dollars to over $2 million. When launched, the Paycheck Protection Program was confusing, constantly changing, and sometimes vague. CenterState’s team of bankers worked personally with each client to answer their questions and support the application process. CenterState processed loans for businesses of all sizes in the Plant City area, providing them the crucial and timely relief needed.

• Lastly, CenterState’s supportive management team and strong coworker relationships enabled our staff to balance their home/work responsibilities. Branches remained open and well-staffed while still safely serving the local community.

What is in a name? Earlier this year, CenterState Bank merged with South State Bank, which nearly doubled the size of both banks. This was a natural continuation of CenterState’s strategy of partnering with like-minded, well-run banks. Together, the combined banks will continue to provide competitive, secure, and innovative banking products to retail and business customers throughout the southeast United States. Since only one name can survive the merger, Plant City will see a new bank name in 2021: South State Bank. As history has proved, the name of the bank is not what delivers the experience. For over 30 years, Plant City residents and businesses have enjoyed banking with CenterState’s people. Linda. James. Amy. Mayra. Trevor. Yaneli. Amanda. Rhonda. Paul. Danika. Serena. Claudia. Scott. Lisette. Darbi. Diane. Sarah. Rachel. And others. All in the Plant City community. The CenterState … and soon to be South State … team remains committed to serve and grow with Plant City, and is always a phone call, email, or visit away to maintain the important personal touch this community deserves.

102 W. Baker Street, | Plant City, FL 33563 | Office 813-659-8049 | Fax 813-719-3703 1804 James L. Redman Parkway, | Plant City, FL 33563 | Office 813-759-2265 | Fax 813-659-9134 NMLS# 1764209




HAUGHT FUNERAL HOME Losing someone you love is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Haught Funeral Home is committed to ensuring that every life is honored and will be remembered for generations to come. Founder Timothy Haught opened the funeral home in 1999 and sold it to David Wolf and his wife, Cynthia, in October 2011. The Wolfs, along with their daughter Katherine, create an atmosphere of care and support for mourning families. David Wolf has over three decades experience. His career began in 1988, as he was wrapping up his final year at the University of Oklahoma. He answered a newspaper ad for the ‘Ideal Student Job.’ During his first job with the funeral home, he joined the Funeral Director in visiting the widow and on the day of the service, he drove the family car. The widow turned to Wolf and said “David, I couldn’t have gotten through this without you.” PAGE



“I went home that night and told my wife ‘I want to be a Funeral Director,’” said Wolf. He then attended the Dallas Institute of Funeral Services and earned his degree in Funeral Service and Mortuary Science. He became a Licensed Funeral Director in December 1991.

In response to COVID-19, Haught Funeral Home began live streaming services to their Facebook page for those unable to attend. The business has decided to make this a normal practice in their business now, as the staff has realized the need for those who can’t attend in person, such as family members living internationally or those who are sick. The videos are then uploaded to



“Memorializing a loved one is a very personal experience,” Wolf said. “We help families plan a service that honors their loved ones and puts them on the path to find closure and peace after a loss.”

“FFA was such an important part of my life growing up,” said Wolf. “I know the impact it can have on students, so we give a scholarship each year to one senior at Plant City.”

Perhaps the descendent was a fan of Elvis Presley’s gospel hymns or their favorite sports team was the Florida Gators, Haught Funeral Home will accommodate the requests of the family to reflect the decedent's life interests, hobbies, or career. From musical choices to flower arrangements, the funeral directors at Haught Funeral Home will guide grieving families through all aspects of the funeral planning.

In being so active in the community, it can be challenging when friends turn to them in the loss of a loved one, but Haught Funeral Home is honored to serve Plant City families since 1999.

From a traditional visitation and funeral, to memorials, Haught Funeral Home honors the decedent with dignity and respect and allows families to decide how they’d like to pay their respects. Haught offers open and closed casket visitations, funerals on the property or at the family church, graveside service, and more.

The Wolfs also own Lanier Funeral Home in Lakeland, which houses a crematorium. The bereaved can rest assured that their loved one is always in the care of Haught Funeral Home’s staff.

Wolf was Vice President of the Strawberry Youth Parade board and an annual sponsor of Diamonds and Denim by the SFBH Foundation. Wolf is an active member of the Kiwanis Club, and each year, the funeral home presents a $1,000 scholarship to a senior in the FFA at Plant City High School.

“It can be hard to say goodbye,” said Wolf. “but it’s rewarding to be able to be here to help. When a family says ‘thank you,’ I always reply with ‘it’s an honor’- and I mean that- it’s a true honor. We are a family operated business, so we are serving the families of Plant City the way we would want to be served.”

“I think families feel better knowing that their loved one isn’t leaving our care,” said Wolf.

708 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 717-9300 | Open 24 Hours PAGE



HILLSBORO BANK When Hillsboro Bank was founded in 1998, it was created to serve the needs of the community. The founding members “believed that developing a solid banking relationship was the key for individuals and businesses in our community to thrive, prosper and grow.” Maybe a mother and father wanted to get a head start on saving for their child’s college education or maybe that young aspiring business owner needed a loan to get their dream started. Whatever the need may be, Hillsboro Bank has been there and continues to be there in service to families and small businesses in Eastern Hillsborough and Pasco counties. With locations in Plant City, Valrico, and Dade City, Hillsboro Bank truly defines what it means to be a community banking institution. “When you call Hillsboro Bank, a person answers- not a machine,” said Senior Vice President/COO Pam Warnock. “When you walk through the doors of the bank, you’re greeted by name. There is no automated system or call center, when you call a branch you get a local employee. Employees know customers by name, not number…” 2020 has been unpredictable, especially for small businesses. Business owners have the added benefit of a community bank when seeking commercial loans and seeking assistance with the Paycheck Protection Program. Commercial lenders live and work in the communities the PAGE


bank serves, thus they understand the needs of business owners. Decisions are made locally which enables quick turnaround time for loan funding. “The business seeking a loan is not just a name with financial statements and tax returns,” said Warnock. “That business is the restaurant our employees taker their kids to, or the store they shop at, or the local farm we get our produce from. That business is our community and Hillsboro Bank prides itself on supporting our community.” Hillsboro Bank has tailored banking services to accommodate the needs of each individual customer or business – and to not only meet but to exceed their expectations. While other banks have closed its branches, replaced its tellers with machines, reduced hours, or removed its drive-thru, Warnock says this isn’t happening at Hillsboro Bank. The banking institution is here for customers whenever its needed. “For the customer who likes to complete their banking in person we are here and ready to assist,” said Warnock. “For the customer who prefers to complete their banking mostly online, we have multiple channels for digital banking including online banking, mobile banking, online bill pay, mobile check deposit, and digital wallet.” Hillsboro Bank not only helps the community with its banking needs but is a true community partner, as active members of a number of local organizations or participating in charitable events. Here are a

few of the programs and organizations the bank, its directors, and employees are involved in: Florida Strawberry Festival, South Florida Baptist Hospital, United Food Bank, and the Plant City High School Raiders Champion Foundation, among many others. “We are currently hosting a Diaper Drive for the Florida Baptist Children’s Home’s One More Child,” said Warnock. “We will be collecting diapers from now until November 6th to help this initiative. One More Child is a local organization whose mission is to provide Christ-centered services to meet the physical, spiritual, emotional, and medical needs of children and families. We are inviting our employees and customers to be a part of this drive to help out families in need.” While Hillsboro Bank may be relatively young, as it was founded 22 years ago, the bank officers and supervisors have a combined 345 years in banking with the average being 31 years. Many employees have remained in Hillsboro Bank since day one, such as Debbie Crosby, Personal Banker Manager; she was one of the first employees we hired. Another employee, Tiffany Achille, came to work for Hillsboro Bank in 2002 as a teller and has worked her way up to now being the Branch Manager of the Valrico Office. “All of our employees do such a great job and we feel blessed to have such an outstanding staff,” said Warnock. “To our customers, we want to thank you for your business and continued support. To those of you who are looking for a hometown bank where you are the priority, stop by and see us today.”

509 W Alexander Street | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 707-6506 | Lobby: Mon- Thurs 9AM to 4PM | Fri 9AM to 6PM | Drive Thru: Mon- Thurs 8AM to 5:30PM | Fri 8AM to 6PM PAGE



HOME PROTECTION PEST CONTROL For Home Protection Pest Control Inc., keeping your home or office pest-free is a family business. Steve and Kathy Paul opened Home Protection Pest Control in 2006 offering 100% kid-safe and pet-safe pest control services for residential and commercial properties, including the treatment of roaches, ants, bees, wasps, spiders and other pests, as well as removal services for rats, mice and squirrels. With the couple retiring this year, Dean and Lynn Roberts have taken over the business. Since Lynn and Kathy are cousins, the business is staying in the family -- and in good hands. In preparation for Steve and Kathy’s retirement, the Roberts’ purchased the business, located at 1105 Woodlawn Ave. in Plant City, in 2016 and started learning the ropes. Dean worked in commercial banking for over 25 years, while Lynn is a school librarian. Prior to Pauls retirement, Dean earned his state license in 2019 after training with the Home Protection team. The Roberts fully took over the business earlier this year. PAGE



The Roberts want new and existing clients to know how eager they are to continue serving the Plant City community. “We want our reputation to be that of professionalism and integrity,” Lynn Roberts said. “Our team is made up of all Plant City High School graduates who have roots in our city. We strive to please our customers.” At Home Protection Pest Control, the team can be held to their word and said there are never any hidden charges after a customer has been provided with a written quote. With help from team members including Mitch Harvill, field manager, field tech Ken Butler and office manager Cindy Merrill, the Home Protection Pest Control team is looking forward to serving the Plant City area for years to come. “Mitch and Ken take pride in their work and care about our customers,” Dean Roberts said. “Cindy is a great listener and helps communicate our customers’ needs so we can provide them with the best service possible. Listening to our customers’ needs and providing a solution in a timely manner is important to us.” The couple said customers can expect the same quality work they received when Steve and Kathy first opened the business. “To our customers who have used our services over the years, we appreciate your business and will continue to offer you our best,” Lynn Roberts said. “To our new customers, we look forward to serving you. We know no one wants to find unwanted pests in their home or business, and there is a sense of satisfaction when we can take care of those pests for our customers.” The business has rave reviews on Facebook, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Customer Marilynn Garcia said, “I have used many pest control services, and Home Protection Pest Control is by far the best I have used. Now I can stop looking because I have found a trustworthy, personable and A1 service pest control to service all my needs. Use their services and you won’t be disappointed.” Jazmin Molina, another customer who left a five-star review, agreed. “Best company hands down! I’m super impressed with my result and especially the customer service I received. Highly recommend!” To book an appointment, visit or call (813) 757-6752.

813-757-6752 | | Facebook: Home Protection Pest Control PAGE



HUNGRY HOWIE’S At Hungry Howie’s Plant City, owners Charlie & Ali Sobh and their staff have a huge heart for Plant City. Not only do they touch lives with every pizza served, but the local restaurant is also renowned for its generosity to the community. Each year, the restaurant fills voids in our community, whether by providing backpacks to kids in need for the school year or buying a cake for customers celebrating their 76th wedding anniversary. When Hurricane Irma hit the area in 2017, Hungry Howie’s was the only location with power, so Plant City residents flocked to get a hot meal. The staff opened the doors and got to work serving the community. “This city has done so much in supporting my business, I’m going to help in any way I can,” said Sobh. “I don’t do it for the recognition, I give back because I want to help.”


It’s no surprise that the Hungry Howie’s on Alexander Street is one of the company’s top locations. It’s loyal legion fans choose Hungry Howie’s for its affordable prices, quality ingredients, and friendly customer service. During the peak of the coronavirus, the Sobhs took advantage of an empty dining room to make renovations. A buffet bar was installed, new flooring, ceiling fans, and seating. Customers are able to dine more comfortably with these new updates. PAGE


“YOUR GREATNESS IS NOT WHAT YOU HAVE, BUT IN WHAT YOU GIVE.” On Friday nights, deliveries and take out orders fly out the door constantly and the dining room is at the permitted capacity with diners rallying Charlie & Ali’s Super Buffet Bar. The buffet is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m and costs $9 for adults, $7 for kids, ages 3 to 7, with the cost of a drink, guests are looking to spend approximately $10-$12 per person. Guests 21 and up can enjoy Bud Light and Miller Lite, bottled or on draft. The buffet is a favorite for sports teams, birthday parties and family nights. Customers are able to fully customize their pizza toppings, they’re also able to choose from one of Hungry Howie’s flavored crusts: Butter, Butter Cheese, Asiago Cheese, Ranch, Onion, Cajun, Sesame and Garlic Herb. The restaurant’s customers choose to spend their dollar at Hungry Howie’s knowing that the company is helping those in need, the food is always hot and fresh, and the variety of menu items including pizzas, subs, salads, pasta, and desserts.

Owners Charlie and Ali Sobh


One Google review said, “First off, this is the best pizza place in Plant City. We usually do the Wacky Wednesday deal because of the great price and convenient for the middle of the week. Always love the quick and accurate service, walking into familiar faces, and seeing them helping out the community. Not only are their pizzas good but their salads are amazing. Definitely recommend!” Another noted the restaurant’s new remodeled dining room & generous giving: “I recently went here for the first time in several years & wow. The place has been completely remodeled, so not only does Everything look great & new, but it’s also super clean. All the staff is so friendly & accommodating. I usually get a salad, and the veggies are always fresh. If that isn’t enough to convince you to eat here, the owners are incredibly generous with their time & resources toward our Plant City community. Another shared how their life has been touched by Sobh’s generous giving: “Impressive! This is a family-owned business that offers a pasta/ salad buffet and all you can eat pizza. Everyone is so cordial and the owner went above and beyond anything expected when I stopped in to order catering for my parents' anniversary party. When he found out that they were celebrating Number 76 - he said "the cake is on me". That meant paying an outside party to provide the sheet cake at a party of 75! Very nice place and I'm always happy to spend my $$ in a locally-owned business.”

208 N. Alexander Street | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-752-6113 | IG: @hungryhowiespc Sun- Thurs 10AM to 11PM | Fri & Sat 10AM to 12AM PAGE




“A Smart, Financial Business Tool”

Amid economic uncertainty, many business owners are seeking viable solutions to conserve their cash flow. But, direct trade can be tricky when determining if the value of the trade was fair and even. That is where ITEX can help. ITEX is a small business community and barter network with more than 20,000 businesses in the United States and Canada. This 38-yearold publicly traded company provides a new source of revenue, which improves the cash flow of its members. Unlike a direct trade, in which a vendor accepts your goods or services as payment, with ITEX, you sell your wares for trade dollars. This currency allows you to buy goods or services from other exchange members in a Marketplace. This type of system is designed to create more mutually beneficial trades. ITEX of Tampa Bay franchise is owned and operated by Jim and Carolyn Young. They bought the local franchise 18 years ago, winning Rookie of the Year their first year in business and have twice earned the prestigious Broker of the Year award, competing against 65 other offices internationally. They are most proud of earning the company’s Circle of Excellence distinction. PAGE


Jim & Carolyn Young ITEX of Tampa Bay

The Youngs have helped their local Tampa Bay exchange members complete over $60 million dollars in transactions over the past 18 years saving that much on their cash flow. ITEX of Tampa Bay has clients as far south as Sarasota and as far north as Dade City. “In essence, we will promote your business to our network and refer business to you,” said Jim. “You can accept or reject any transaction we might send you. If you accept an order from one of our clients, they will pay you with trade dollars through the ITEX Mobile app right on their phone. You now have additional trade dollars in your ITEX checking account to use for purchases that you would have in the past had to use out of your precious cash flow. We also offer trade dollar credit lines to allow you to purchase the things you need and then we help market your business to new customers that you would have never found to pay back the credit line. You’ll get a statement every four weeks tracking these transactions.” The Youngs and their staff serve, essentially, as the middlemen to ensure that both parties in the transaction find what they’re looking for.

ITEX is available to most business owners. Although some clients sell and buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods and services through the ITEX trade market annually, others sell and buy less than $10,000 in trade per year. Either way, using ITEX is a smart, financial business tool for any size business, especially in times of economic downturn when members sell their excess inventory or book idle time. “Many of our clients have also used some of these extra trade dollar credits to enhance their family's life with the purchase of personal expenditures they could never afford to pay for from their business cash flow...” said Jim. “Oftentimes in business, the business owner's family lacks the extra dollars for vacations, things around the home & even personal things like dental, optical services, etc. but with the use of these extra trade dollars, it frees up more of their cash for the important things.”


One ITEX of Tampa Bay member owns a beach resort. This member said: “We enjoy our trading of bungalows that we weren’t going to fill in “off-season” for ITEX goods and services including a $20,000 motorcycle, Advertising, Employees Bonus accounts, Sprinklers, Parking Lot, Painting, Dental services for my employees, and vacation travel including to the Amazon and the mountains.” Sean Storch with Brandon Legal Group said ITEX was a way for them to garner business with business owners the office may not come across our path otherwise. We were able to utilize our earnings for the house, office, and go to lunch. “We went to team lunch the other day and went to one of the providers in the network. In fact, we utilize providers when we have a holiday party or other event for the office.” Katie Yates with Paragon Cleaning shared how ITEX has benefited her business and personal life. “ITEX brings bartering to a whole new level!” said Yates. “Through them I have received new clients and in turn have been able to purchase things like chiropractic care and weekend trips to the beach... all on barter. I’ve been an ITEX member for 3+ years and love it!”

ITEX members can use the currency for personal or business purchases. Young said, "One of our resort owners on Anna Maria Island traded empty rooms the resort was never going to fill for trade dollars that was then used to buy this beautiful motorcycle".


Jim Young 813-763-7004 | Carolyn Young 813-763-4519 | | PAGE



LIFE FAMILY CHURCH Jack Myers Ministries One Monday evening in March of 1993, Dr. Jack Myers experienced a “major encounter with God” at a Carpenter’s Home Church revival in Lakeland. Following the night that changed his life forever, he and his wife Marie served three years at another Tampa church before heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. There they graduated in 1997 from Rhema Bible College (RBC), traveled in ministry nine years with Rhema Bible Church, and then served six years out of Family Harvest Church in Chicago. They have since completed their graduate level degrees. Beginning in 2010, Dr. Jack and Rev. Marie Myers have led the Life Family Church congregation in Plant City. In addition to pastoring, the Myers are involved in crusade evangelism. Since 2007 they have ministered in more than 17 evangelistic crusades in 13 countries and 38 states – with miracles, signs, and wonders following. With a heart for world missions, the couple has taken more than 600 missionaries on crusades over the years, seen 1,000,000 people give their hearts to Christ, and have met city mayors, state/province governors and presidents of nations. Dr. Jack’s three books – The Spirit, Revival: The Last Call, and Flowing In The Anointing, will soon be available in Spanish. Seeing people respond to the Gospel message is this pastor’s greatest joy. “And,” he added, “to see them to follow Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength makes every effort worthwhile.”

Life Family Church The Myers lead the beautifully diverse congregation of Life Family Church which meets Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights livestream with a live studio audience, at 600 W. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Plant City, Florida. Off campus, LFC members minister to locals in community parks and schools, as well as to the fire and police departments, through their PAGE


Pastor Jack and Marie Myers

Common Unity Program. Using a grid to map their reach, the church has visited, prayed for, and invited people in virtually every Plant City neighborhood to discover Jesus. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve been very strategic about serving others here in our town,” explained Rev. Marie. Testimonies from families whose lives have been radically changed tell the LFC story best. Church members and Life Christian University students Andrew Bartlein, 31, and his wife Chrissy have both interned and taken missions trips with the Myers. Now a licensed children’s minister, Andrew shared, “Despite my troubled past from addictions, Pastor Jack loved me so I could love myself. He offered me a Bible school scholarship and I started serving. He stood with me until I could step out and be what God has called me to do.” When Matt & Michelle Costello moved to Plant City in 2012, they visited several churches before finding LFC. “Our daughters, ages 11 and 9, were very ill after sinus surgeries and hospitalizations,” Matt explained. “Pastor Jack started praying for them and God healed them. We have both earned our associate degree at LCU and I will earn the bachelor’s this May, while Michelle is pursuing her RN license. We have sons, ages 2 and 5, so we teach children ages 3-6 on a rotation basis and Michelle also teaches kids 6-months to 2-years. I assist with those ages 7-12 as well. Additionally, I’m part of the fully trained security team. We’ve been on mission trips to Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Myanmar (Burma). LFC is truly the epitome of a church family.”

Life Christian University For 25 years, Life Christian University has equipped more than 40,000 graduates for ministry at 240 campuses in 38 states and 17 other countries. Rev. Marie Myers directs the Plant City campus, #19 of 21 that she has placed within the U.S. She holds two master’s degrees, one in Theology and one in Counseling and has completed her Doctoral Coursework. Now in its 9th year in Plant City, more than 150 students have studied in the non-denominational program of Christian-centered classes to earn Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate’s degrees in Theology. The Accrediting Commission International certifies the university courses for audit or credit. The graduate level degreed faculty members equip students to become effective and morally guided leaders in their communities, churches, and specific secular jobs. Tuition is only $175 for undergraduate courses, $210 for graduate level, and $225 for doctorate level. Some previously taken college courses can also matriculate to fulfill LCU degree requirements. People are welcome from all denominations! Registration for the 2020-2021 year is available now. Contact Rev. Marie Myers at to begin the application process.

Life Family Church, Life Christian University, Jack Myers Ministries Missions 600 W. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. | Plant City, FL 33564 | 813-708-2783 | PAGE




of Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage

“I chose Plant City because of its small town feel- I just fell in love with Plant City,” said new resident and Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage agent Linda Buck. “My husband and I plan to stay here forever.” Plant City reminds Buck of her birthplace: Wildwood, Florida in Sumter County, founded in the late 1800s as the pioneers pursued their agricultural pursuits. Buck’s grandfather moved to the area from Birmingham, Alabama to help build that area’s railyard around 1915. Buck was attracted to Plant City for its familiarity with Wildwood. If there is one thing Linda Buck knows, it’s Florida real estate. She’s been in the industry for over 20 years and as a realtor with Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage, she is connected to a network of 2,000 agents and lenders across the state. “If someone wants to move to Pensacola from Plant City, I know agents there and with one phone call can have someone on the ground working for the client,” said Buck. “If they want to move to Gainesville or Orlando, I know top performing agents and lenders all over the state. If someone wants to move to this area, those agents are calling me.” Buck may be a part of a statewide real estate firm, but that doesn’t mean clients won’t receive small town service and a dedicated agent. Buck is a resident of Walden Lake, where she lives with her husband, Brad. The couple of 12 years are parents to their “fur babies,” Jerry and Princess. The Bucks purchased a fixer upper, knowing that they were going to spend the rest of their lives in Plant City, the home needed to be everything they wanted. “This was a huge project being new to town with a tight budget to get the home in its current condition, said Buck. “I have gotten to know some great vendors through that process and plan to post some before and after videos online showing what choices can be made to improve a home's appearance and function for your family and still remain financially conservative and relevant to today's popular styles.” PAGE


She takes her job seriously, as realtors often work with clients during seasons of change. Whether it’s newlyweds looking for their first home or clients selling a home after a loved one’s passing, Buck’s sole goal is to be there for people. Her resume includes remodeling and renovation, commercial management, commercial leasing, residential staging, and listing specialist. She is an experienced and skilled negotiator and a new construction buyer consultant. Without a professional, like Buck, clients can make a huge financial mistake. “With new construction, I will look at the plans myself,” said Buck. “I will walk the lots and I know land. I will look for low spots, the view, and can tell clients if a premium property is worth the premium price.” She is also comfortable helping customers make choices at home order if needed. Typically the commission paid to a realtor in new construction is already built into the price of the home they are purchasing from the builder so usually there is no cost to bring in your own agent as long as you let them know up front. Sometimes builders require the agent to "register" a customer before that agreement is reached. It's a simple phone call for agents. Buck is a member of the National Association of Realtors and the Florida Association of Realtors and a member of the local YMCA. Her favorite author is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and enjoys reading Rawlings stories of her exploration as an independent woman in early Florida Buck’s other favorite Historical Florida figures are Thomas Edison, Henry Flagler and of course, Henry Plant. She finds their stories and historic buildings fascinating to tour and read about. She is a supporter of the ASPCA and other animal rescue operations and is looking forward to becoming a part of our Plant City community. “We could have picked cities like Punta Gorda and Orlando, or Lakeland, but I am so glad we chose Plant City,” said Buck. “I’m looking forward to helping my neighbors with their real estate needs.”

BUCK’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Buck’s real estate experience includes managing and maintaining several hundred properties, including budget, leasing, tenant approvals, marketing, and legal matters such as meeting Federal Fair Housing law and Florida landlord tenant laws. Buck was named Senior Vice President of ReMax Reliance Group in Gainesville, Florida for her 20-plus years of experience and ability to train new members of the team. As a Listing Specialist with Allison Ables Real Estate in Gainesville, Buck was responsible for working closely with customers to get their property prepared for the market, then marketing the home across media to get the most money in the shortest time. In 2016, she was responsible for $7.8 million in sales, with the average home price of $220,000. Buck sold New and Pre-Owned Homes, including Build to Suit in The Villages, closing up to 58 homes annually, working for owners, builders, and developers. Home values at that time were from $100,000 to $1.2 million dollars.

813-493-6066 | PAGE




Signature Realty Associates

If you’re ready to talk to someone about SELLING or PURCHASING a real estate property, reach out to a true professional – Maggie Beard with Signature Realty Associates. This proud THIRD-generation Florida Realtor® has been Licensed and providing “Significant Service” in real estate since 1996. Prior to her real estate career, she spent 10 years in international banking and six years as a small business owner. Growing up in a military family provided Maggie with unique perspectives from world travel. Her husband was a locomotive engineer for 43 years with CSX Railroad. Maggie states, “I know the challenges in this economy for working people and helping them to SELL their property as quickly as possible for a top price is something I thoroughly enjoy.” And for those BUYING a home or business, Maggie listens closely to discover the most important property needs and desires of her customers. She feels her job is NOT to sell you a property, but rather to FIND your perfect home or business location, and then go to work to negotiate the best possible price and terms for you. PAGE


Maggie Beard has a relationship with JayCor Homes, selling nearly every property in Park Place.

She combines the old-fashioned personalized service learned from her mother and grandfather, and for Seller’s the most up-to-date marketing tools. For those buying, right now there is currently limited inventory to choose from, but with 26 years of contacts in Real Estate, she can often find your perfect property BEFORE it goes on the market! Buying or Selling a home, farm or business is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime! Use an EXPERIENCED agent who is personally concerned with YOUR needs! Maggie invites: “Call me anytime and let’s discuss YOUR unique situation!” Maggie is a Realtor® with Signature Realty Associates, one of the largest and oldest independent Brokers in the Tampa Bay area. Although she focuses on the East Hillsborough and SW Polk County area, she is happy to assist you in any location of Florida. Her in-depth experience in residential extends as well into long experience with the unique needs of horse and farm properties, vacant land and business properties. She has also the exclusive Realtor® agent for Jaycor Homes, recently selling out their beautiful new home community of Park Place of Plant City, and many of their custom homes in the area. She is very excited to soon begin the marketing of the exclusive Shannon Estates of Plant City, and in the near future Falcon Cove of Plant City. See

WHAT SHE ACCOMPLISHES FOR SELLERS • Provides a thorough, detailed Comparative Market Analysis; she does NOT overprice just to get your listing, or worse, talk you into a low price just to make a quick sale and commission, she makes sure that the CORRECT price is offered. • Helps you to know what you need to accomplish to have the property ready to obtain the best price and what improvements may actually be a waste of time and money.

• Provides excellent pictures • Takes time to enter ALL the data about your property in MLS • Uses a Realtor® access-only electronic lockbox, rather than a spin dial that ANYONE could get the code to open. • AND SHE ANSWERS THE PHONE AND PERSONALLY RESPONDS IMMEDIATELY TO PROPERTY INQUIRIES!

WHAT SHE ACCOMPLISHES FOR BUYERS • Constantly checking MLS and her deep field of contacts for your perfect available property • Investigating the property to uncover as much as possible issues such as flood zone, proper permitting for improvements, sink hole history. • She will also always use her experienced eye to point out any other issues she notices • ALWAYS, ALWAYS strongly recommends a professional property inspection.

RECOMMENDATIONS And her clients agree as well. In offering a “highly likely to recommend” review, home-seller Norm Blanton wrote, “Maggie pays attention to detail. Her candor is refreshing. She stays right with you and walks you through each step all the way, often going the extra mile. I will continue to use her expert abilities to assist in our real estate endeavors.” Regarding her local knowledge, process expertise, responsiveness and negotiation skills, another home-seller, Harry Cunningham, agreed: “Maggie is a very hard-working agent and an asset to anyone selling or buying a home. Her interest in helping goes above and beyond just finding the right buyer. She involved with the sale up to the closing.”

2234 Lithia Center Lane, | Valrico FL 33596 | 813-299-7155 | Significant Service Since 1996 * Proud 3rd Generation Florida Realtor® PAGE



NICK’S PIZZARIA & WINGS Nick’s Pizzaria & Wings is a neighborhood establishment that combines food and drink that exudes all the homey charm that one might expectopenness and a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. “We believe in offering good service, in extending hospitality and being friendly to everyone who walks through our door,” said Owner Jimbo Sparks, who purchased the popular Plant City eatery in April 2012. Sparks’ 30-years experience as a restaurant consultant inspired him to then own his own restaurant. Sparks says he and the team at Nick’s pride themselves in offering quality customer service and delicious made-to-order food at affordable prices. The portions are hearty and the food is truly characteristically New Yorkstyle hand-tossed thin pizza: Thick crust and wide pliable slices that can be folded. As customers pull a slice away from the pie, the mozzarella cheese pulls, tantalizing the taste buds. “Everything here is homemade because we want to serve excellent meals,” said Sparks. “We make a pizza like you would make it at home, with plenty of toppings, even to the edges. We make our dough fresh every day, we use fresh chicken versus frozen, and we shop locally for produce at the farmers’ markets.” PAGE


Nick’s is unveiling a new specialty pizza unlike anything else in Plant City: Breakfast Pizza, consisting of bacon, ham, and sausage over fluffy eggs and cheese. Sparks is confident customers will enjoy this new menu item. Everyone who has sampled the breakfast pizza loves it. The menu includes nine appetizers, with everything from Ms. Terry’s Poppers, Cream Cheese or Cheddar Cheese filled Jalapenos lightly fried and served with homemade ranch, for $5.99 and Garlic Knots for $3.99. Sparks shared with FOCUS that the restaurant has unveiled new onion rings, they’re no longer using frozen onion rings, opting for better quality in fresh, hand-battered onion rings. Nick’s prides itself on offering fresh, never frozen jumbo chicken wings. Customers can choose from 8, 12, 20, or 30 and up bone-in wings with 16 different housemade sauces. Whether you’re stopping in for a quick lunch for one or feeding a crowd, Nick’s wings are considered among the best- the restaurant was voted the 2020 FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Award winner for Best Chicken Wings. Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings offers a daily lunch special, often announced via their Facebook page with the restaurant’s iconic Joke of the Day. The lunch special is typically under $10. Additionally, Nick’s offers a Monday night special of All You

When Nick’s Pizza and Wings isn’t serving up delicious pizzas, sandwiches, wings, or burger, the restaurant is committed to helping the community.

Nick’s is promoting managers from within. Customers will be greeted by the same friendly faces (from left to right): J.T. Bullard, Tyler Dulje, and Kristina Deeds.

Can Eat Wings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $10.99 and on Wednesdays, Kids Eat Free with the purchase of an adult entree. “70 percent of our business is take-out or delivery,” said Sparks. “Thanks to our customers, it's growing stronger. We are promoting our managers from within, so they’re the same friendly faces our customers are used to. The new managers are J.T. Bullard, Tyler Dulje, and Kristina Deeds. I’m proud of my team.” Back in March when the county was placed under a Safer-AtHome Order, many were furloughed. Nick’s hired some of those locals without jobs to fulfill the demand for delivery orders. Nick’s continues to take steps to protect customers and staff from COVID-19 by wearing masks, offering hand sanitizer, and sanitizing common areas more often.

“We enjoy being part of this community, supporting our schools and churches, and spreading the good word about other local businesses when folks inquire about recommendations,” said Sparks. “Nick’s teamed up with the Elks Lodge to feed foster kids in our community, we do work with the Plant City Lions Club to give back to our community. We are thankful for the community’s support and we are happy to give back.” “THE BEST IN PLANT CITY” When hungry Plant City residents are looking for affordable prices, delicious food, and hearty portions, they turn to Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings. Customers share their experience in Facebook reviews: One customer said, “The biggest juiciest wings in town and I can’t say enough about their great hand-tossed pizzas. Our family loves Nicks Pizzaria!” Another added, “Such great service! We won a gift card and typically we just grab a pizza to go. I didn't know they had so much on the menu. It was delicious and the server was so sweet. I would definitely recommend this place.” This Philly-native recommends Nick’s Philly sandwich: “Absolutely fantastic!! Would give ten stars if I could. Best cheesesteak I've had in Florida and I'm from the Philly area. Delivery was faster than they told me...”

1707 James L Redman Pkwy | Plant City, FL. 33563 | 813-757-5900 | Mon to Thurs 11AM to 10PM | Fri & Sat 11AM to 11PM | Sun 12PM-9PM PAGE




Fried Fish tacos with a street corn salsa served on fresh tortillas, made in house.

Norma’s offers delicious sandwiches, salads, and meal prep options. But, the company truly lives up to its slogan as “More Than a Sandwich Shop.” Weekly, Norma’s offers specials for Taco Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to close. While Taco Tuesday specials exist across the United States in Mexican restaurants, cantinas, and even food trucks, Norma’s offers the classic taco, burrito or quesadilla with a modern twist. From Jerk Chicken tacos with Mango Salsa or a Braised Pork Belly Burrito, customers are sure to find something unique and delicious, but with hearty portions at Norma’s. Each week, the offerings are different than previous weeks, meaning customers can look forward to trying new flavor combinations each week. These creative culinary concepts are the creation of Norma’s chef, Andy Nassar, whose resume includes positions at The Stein & Vine, CALI (formerly known as Ciccio Cali), The Landing Bar & Grill, among others. Each week, Nassar creates a menu that is tantalizing to the senses: it looks good, it smells good, and it tastes delicious. PAGE


Braised pork belly burritos

“Andy comes up with a menu that he thinks is trendy or different where we can introduce new flavor to our customers,” said Leo Mesquita, Norma’s General Manager. “We also collect feedback from customers and based on what they like the most we’ll come up with a similar menu item. For example, fried fish tacos are popular, so he’ll think of different toppings to add to it in order to keep it different and interesting. All great Mexican dishes start with the tortilla as it’s base. In June 2019, the kitchen staff began making homemade tortillas, which inspired the eatery to begin serving tacos. The restaurant continues to make homemade tortillas and thus, Taco Tuesday at Norma’s continues to be one of the restaurant’s most popular specials. In July 2020, Norma’s served Braised Beef Tacos, selling out in just a few hours. The demand was so great, Norma’s put a handful of tacos on the daily menu, including Lupe’s Pork Tacos, $6.00; Blackened Chicken Tacos, $6.00; Cheese Quesadilla, $4.00; and Cuban Burrito, $7.00. “We have the greatest chef in Plant City and excellent kitchen staff,” said Mesquita. Customers agree, leaving their reviews of the Taco Tuesday menu items online: Katrina Turco said, “Everything here is great, their breakfast bowls, their Cubans all of it. My absolute favorite is their Taco Tuesday, it’s always different & always delicious.” In a Google Review, Raquel Arias said she couldn’t decide what to order, so she order all three taco options. “...Their breakfast is awesome, always fresh and great quality said Arias. “But can I take a second and really RAVE about their Taco Tuesday? I legitimately couldn’t decide which I wanted so I got all 3 options available: pork, shrimp, and blackened chicken. No skimping on meats, overflowing with authentic flavors, so so good. Keep doing great things!” Want to have a piece of Norma’s in your fridge? Consider purchasing Chef Andy’s “Green Sauce.” A Cilantro-Lime sauce, consisting of cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. The sauce is great as a dressing or a dipping sauce, adding flavor and finish to any dish. Jars can be purchased at Norma’s for $4.99. Currently, the sauce is not shelf stables, therefore not able to be shipped, but Mesquita said the team is currently working out logistics to make the item available for shipping. Subscribe to their newsletter for updates and promotions by subscribing online or sending Leo an email at info@normascuban. com.For more information about Taco Tuesday, Green Sauce or any of Norma’s menu items, be sure to visit their website at, visit their Instagram @normascuban, or stop in at 120 N. Collins Street in historic downtown.

Chef Andy Nassar is the creative culinary genius behind Norma’s. Together with owner and general manager Leo Mesquita, Norma’s continues to serve up foods people are familiar with- like burritos and tacosbut with a twist. Recently, Norma’s began jarring Nassar’s Cilantro Lime Sauce, also known as Green Sauce, which is great to add on foods, as a dressing or a dipping sauce.

120 N. Collins Street, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 704-6015 | Hours: Mon-Sat 8 AM to 4PM, Sun Closed PAGE



OCTOPUS CAR WASH When choosing a car wash for your vehicle, it’s important to find a company that is experienced, professional, and properly equipped to meet your car or truck’s needs. Plant City residents have trusted Octopus Car Wash for 26 years when striving to keep their vehicles clean. Owner Sherman Williams began washing cars as a teenager in the 1960s and has previously owned carwashes in Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida. Today, Williams and his daughters own and operate three Florida locations: Orlando, Plant City, and in 2019, the Williams opened a location in Winter Springs. The company’s goal is to provide a clean, fast car wash at a reasonable price.

Octopus is an express ride-thru car wash, equipped with twelve free self-service and state-of-the-art vacuums, towels for touch up, and window cleaner. Your vehicle is washed and hand dried as you relax and ride thru. Octopus offers two automated cashier lanes, where customers can choose from many options, including a Basic Carwash for the occasional customer or, for customers who prefer frequent washes, the Monthly Unlimited Washing for one low fee. For special attention to your vehicle, call Octopus at (813) 754-0777 to schedule an appointment for vehicle detailing. “We feel that Octopus is different in that we have speed of service, fair pricing, state of the art equipment, spot-free rinsing and hand drying,” said Williams.

“We opened Octopus Car Wash in Plant City in 1994,” said Williams. “It had been operating under a different owner since 1987. It was quite different in the early years, as a lot of the functions were performed by hand…”

Octopus Car Wash has won FOCUS Magazine’s Best Car Wash three years consecutively and rated #1 car wash in Plant City on Yelp. Octopus also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. It’s no surprise customers leave fivestar reviews for their favorite car wash.

Florida’s climate means heat, humidity, rain, salt air, hot sun, and last but not least bugs. It pays to be pro-active in protecting your investment with regular washes.

One customer said, “Wonderful place to take your car, I always leave here satisfied. The managers are very helpful as well as the rest of the staff.”



A longterm customer said Octopus is the only place they trust with their vehicle: “I have been a customer here for 14 years. Charles treats me like family. This is the only place I get vehicles washed. If you ever have a question or an issue, just bring it to their attention. Long term, very satisfied customer!” Another reviewer said his vehicle looks brand new after a trip to Octopus: “My truck is over five years old. Every time I get it washed with their Ultimate and travel back to my home city, all of my friends and family asked did I buy a new truck. Their professionalism is one to beat in the business.” Looking for a unique, but practical gift for the upcoming holidays? Octopus Carwash offers gift cards- a perfect gift for the person who has everything. Visit the front office to learn more about available gift cards. Check out the company’s Charity Fundraising Program. As strong supporters of local schools, churches, non-profits, and multiple individuals, Octopus offers an environmentally friendly, unique opportunity for your non-profit organization's next effort. Shopping local is always a win-win! If you’re looking for an experienced, friendly, and customer-centric experience, head over to Octopus Car Wash, where you can expect only the best care for your vehicle. Your car is important to you, so make sure it gets the great service it deserves from the experts at Octopus Car Wash.

1503 S Collins St, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-0777 PAGE



PAW-BERRIES DOG BANDANAS When Kelsey Humphrey started as the ag teacher at Strawberry Crest High School, it wasn’t uncommon for her to bring along her labrador retriever, LuLu. “I was able to bring her to school with me thanks to the vet program Strawberry Crest offers,” Humphrey said. “I would always dress her up in bandanas whenever I brought her.” But Humphrey didn’t like the limited bandana options available at pet stores. She began making and selling her own bandanas, buying and cutting the fabric and sewing them together herself. While the desire for stylish bandanas was apparent, Humphrey still needed a way to make hers stand out. That’s when Humphrey’s sister, Emily Fry, offered up her services as a graphic designer. Together, they developed Paw-Berries Bandanas: stylish, dry-fit, machine-washable dog bandanas for all occasions. PAGE


Emily Fry and Kelsey Humphrey, with Lulu- the inspiration behind the brand. Lulu is wearing the Pink Lemonade Bandana.

Paw-Berries offers their bandanas in four sizes: Small (ideal for chihuhua, toy poodles, etc), Medium (ideal for corgis, French bulldogs, and the like), Large (for neck sizes up to 25-inches) and X-Large (Mastiffs, Great Danes, and neck sizes up to 30 inches).

Together, sisters Emily Fry and Kelsey Humphrey developed PawBerries Dog Bandanas in 2019: A stylish, dry-fit, machine-washable dog bandana for any occasion. Fry custom designs every icon and pattern and Humphrey focuses on production, management, and social media.

“Everything is custom-designed,” Fry said. “I draw all the icons and patterns that are 100% unique to us.” Like Humphrey, Fry also works full-time but has found a creative passion in designing the bandanas. Since launching in the summer of 2019, she has created over 50 designs for Paw-Berries. “I create icons and then patterns based off of those icons,” Fry said. From deciding on a design to creating patterns and completing the production process, creating one design takes about three hours. “I started with what people liked the most, like sports and outdoor themes, and then we expanded into more niche designs. We wanted to create something of our own that offers a personal connection and that ‘wow’ factor.” “She’s the design guru,” Humphrey said. “And then I focus on our production, management and social media.” “Kelsey gives me 100% creative authority and lets me take the reigns with that,” Fry said. “It’s hard to do in a business, and I love her for that.” At first, Humphrey thought Paw-Berries would be a hobby. But between her business savvy and Fry’s designs, the sisters have found their niche market. Since starting last summer, Paw-Berries bandanas have made their way to five stores in Plant City and Lakeland. Fur moms and dads can also buy the bandanas on the shop’s website, or through Etsy or Amazon. The sisters also had about 30 bandana designs available at this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival.

Lulu is modeling the Alien Bandana. The design consists of aliens, UFOs, and more

In addition to its brick and mortar presence, Paw-Berries is starting to take off on Instagram. Humphrey’s students enjoy taking pictures of their own dogs in the bandanas. She’s also recently introduced brand ambassadors to represent Paw-Berries on Instagram. Applications are rolling, so interested ambassadors can apply on the Paw-Berries website. “Our brand ambassadors have been a huge help to me as I balance between these two jobs,” Humphrey said. “Teaching is a huge passion of mine, and I see myself still teaching in the future. But I also want to grow the business, keep growing in retail stores and expand our print collections.” Humphrey is grateful for the overwhelming amount of small business support she and Fry have received since launching Paw-Berries, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “People are looking to support small businesses in any way they can,” she said. “We are upping our social media engagement so we can keep in contact with our customers. We really enjoy hearing from them.”


To dress up your furry best friend, look for Paw-Berries in the following locations: RAOK Boutique Tennessee Jane Fringe Boutique Proud Gator

Search for Paw-Berries on Amazon | Instagram: @PawBerriesBandanas PAGE



PLANT CITY AWNING & ALUMINUM Floridians know even minor tropical storms can cause damage to homes and businesses during hurricane season. At Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products, located at 806 S. Woodrow Wilson St. #1 in Plant City, Larry Johnson and his team are keeping residents covered all year long. A full service aluminum contractor serving all of Hillsborough County, Johnson provides services to both residential and commercial clients. They have been serving the area for over 50 years, offering services to residential customers that include screen rooms, glass rooms, carports, pool enclosures, patio awnings and more. Custom details are also available. After serving local residents for more than 50 years, Johnson said his favorite part of the job is still meeting a wide variety of people. “It’s when those repeat customers return and you know you’re doing the right thing, that you’ve done a good job,” said Johnson. Johnson said his weekday mornings typically start at 6 a.m. and end at 6:30 p.m., and he also makes weekend appointments to take care of his clients. PAGE


Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products won FOCUS Reader’s Choice Award for two consecutive years in the category of Best Screening Company, and Johnson was honored. “It was very pleasurable and unexpected, but very much appreciated,” he said. With all of his clients, Johnson still focuses on keeping the goal in mind that he’s had since the company’s inception: To provide quality products, competitive prices and service before, during and after the sale. While much of Johnson’s work is primarily for residential clients, he’s also serviced major commercial businesses throughout Plant City and Hillsborough County. One of his favorite projects to date was when he replaced an awning for the Florida Strawberry Festival after it was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. His work dates back to when Plant City Awning and Aluminum Products first opened in 1961. That year, his company did the awning for the Plant City Dairy Queen. While the building has since been reconstructed, a photo of the original Dairy Queen still hangs in the lobby. The company has a warehouse onsite to help complete larger-scale projects. “We can do anything from repairs to full replacements,” said Johnson. “Every project is engineered to what the customer needs and we follow all code standards.” “We’re diversified and experienced enough to get these projects done in a timely manner,” said Johnson. Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and is part of both the Aluminum Association of Florida and the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. Johnson attends First Baptist Church of Plant City. Satisfied residential customers have left five-star ratings for Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products on Google. From Rebecka M.: “These folks are the best at what they do, completely professional. We love our new screened-in porch. They were done with the job and clean-up in less than two days. The result is a very nice porch that ties in with our home like it was part of the original plan.”

Additional commercial clients include Plant City Airport, the National Guard Armory and several projects with South Florida Baptist Hospital. Most recently, Johnson and his team completed the awning for Plant City’s new Pelican’s SnoBalls. For estimates and images of Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products' work, head to their website at www.plantcityawningandaluminum. com. Johnson and his team will do estimates in-house through appointments at a convenient time for customers. For your residential and commercial awning needs, contact Plant City Awning & Aluminum today for service backed by more than 50 years of experience! Plant City Awning and Aluminum Products is A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau. Customers speak highly of Larry Johnson and Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products. “Larry of Plant City Awning was great to work with. Very knowledgeable with many years of experience. He helped us from start to finish. I would highly recommend him to anyone considering a screen enclosure.”

Bob F. was another happy customer: “Great job. On time for a quote, on time for the job. It was done quickly and cleanly, everything I asked for.”

“Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products, Inc. is a very good company. I would highly recommend this company to everyone. Larry J. is great to work with. The experience was a breeze from start to finish and we are extremely happy with the final product.”

On the Better Business Bureau page, numerous happy clients left favorable reviews for Plant City Awning & Aluminum Products. Diane D. let a positive review after choosing Larry’s team over six other companies: “Larry offered a fair price and had a lot of industry and product knowledge...The dedication that Larry and his crew showed us is second to none and very much appreciated. It’s nice to deal with a business that takes pride in their materials and workmanship. We highly recommend them.”

“We have used Plant City Awning & Aluminum on two separate occasions and have received amazing work both times. Very nice and professional and kept us informed from start to finish. Had a screen enclosure done and a carport and love both of them. Not just out to make a buck but to make sure the customer is completely satisfied with their work. Will always be our first call for any future projects. Can't say enough positive things about Mr. J. and this company.”

806 S. Woodrow Wilson St. #1, Plant City, Florida 33563 | (813) 659-2501 | PAGE



PLANT CITY PEDIATRICS From a friendly atmosphere to a qualified staff it’s no surprise residents of the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World are choosing Plant City Pediatrics for their children’s healthcare needs. Located at 2370 Walden Woods Drive, Suite A, Plant City Pediatrics has been serving families in the community since Dr. Timothy Williams opened the practice nearly 18 years ago in October 2002. Since then, the practice has grown from one physician to five providers and a 22-member staff. Dr. Williams’ desire is to provide quality healthcare to all patients. In order to achieve his ultimate goal, he has partnered with a team of high-quality caregivers including, Chandra R. Williams, M.D., F.A.A.P.; Emily Buchholz, PA-C; Emily Zink, APRN; and Brandy Garcia, APRN. PAGE


At Plant City Pediatrics, patient care is viewed as an investment in the future of each child, and the service provided is viewed as a mission. To meet needs and preferences of patients, the practice has both male and female providers. Additionally, Plant City Pediatrics aims to make visits as pleasant and comfortable as possible. During the unprecedented times created by the coronavirus pandemic, the staff at Plant City Pediatrics has offered parking lot visits for patients who chose not to come into the office, or those who required quarantine. This was in addition to cleaning and sanitation measures done hourly and between every patient visit, as well as different waiting rooms for those visiting due to illness and those visiting for a wellness check. Children won’t receive a standard visit when they step into an exam room at Plant City Pediatrics. The 15 exam rooms are decorated with themes, bringing a smile to the faces of children regardless of their age or reason for their visit. Satisfied customers left positive reviews of Plant City Pediatrics online, with many choosing to take their whole family there for childcare.

“They are always great and understanding when there is a concern with your child,” Alondra Rivera wrote in her Google review. “I love this doctor’s office.” “We take all five of our children here,” Matthew Taylor wrote. “Very happy with the way we are treated. The doctors are great, and the office is nice and clean.” In a vision statement online, Plant City Pediatrics believes “that children are a gift from the Lord” and the service providers provide gentle, compassionate care to each patient. Outside of Plant City Pediatrics, Dr. Williams has supported this mission by building an orphanage in Mwanza Tanzania and supports four of the children there. Additionally, the practice works with Cornerstone International Ministries which offers aid to the community. The practice also supports our local police and fire department fundraisers, especially those designed for children. Parents interested in signing up for a first-time appointment can visit and complete the new patient portal information. Then, they will be contacted by a friendly member of the staff to book their first appointment.

2370 Walden Woods Drive, Suite A, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-659-9800 | Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Friday PAGE



PLANT CITY RENTALS Plant City Rentals has provided property management services throughout eastern Hillsborough County community for more than a decade. The company specializes in singlefamily, duplex, and small multi-family properties. Plant City Rentals is owned by Ron Johns, a lifelong Plant City resident. Johns has worked in the Real Estate industry since 2000. In addition to helping folks discover a dream residence, he enjoys opportunities to support local charitable efforts, such as outreaches by the Plant City Elks Lodge, Toys for Tots, and assistance to military families. Plant City Rentals manages more than 150 homes and apartments in this community alone. Since new technologies have changed the way prospective tenants locate new housing, most homebuyers today research online before they physically shop for another home or a different rental unit. Plant City Rentals serves both property owners and tenants for the mutual benefit. Johns and his staff utilize the latest technology to generate leads from ads, signs, internet, social media, multiple affiliated websites, and word-of-mouth referrals average 500-600 monthly. “We make use of the latest technologies, but we never lose the personal touch with our owners or our tenants,” said Johns. “At Plant City Rentals, it is our goal to make your property rental experience a pleasant one.” Visit, tenants can pay their rent, potential tenants can view available properties and submit a rental application, and property owners can learn more about how Plant City Rentals will work to protect their investment. PLANT CITY RENTALS IS THE COMPANY YOU CAN TRUST According to Johns, the most important aspect of property management is trust. He explained, “Owners trust that we will work hard to find the best tenants, handle their funds effectively and responsibly, use professional and qualified vendors, and manage properties to protect their investment. And our tenants trust us to handle repair issues promptly and professionally, treat them fairly and with respect, do our best to ensure their safety and well-being, and provide them with affordable, quality housing.” PAGE


The team at Plant City Rentals thoroughly screens potential tenants including income verification, criminal, rental, and credit histories, and reports its tenants’ rental history to the credit bureau to help them build/improve their credit. “Tenant retention is the core of our business,” said Johns. “By providing prompt and professional service, most decide to stay and renew their leases, which saves the property owners thousands of dollars over time.” In addition to rent collections and service calls, property management involves preventative maintenance, legal assistance, risk management, equity appreciation, liability, bookkeeping, and much more. Property managers must keep up with the current Rental Market, Fair Housing Laws, Fire Safety, Insurance needs and requirements, costs of goods and services, and of course, Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Act. They also shape policies concerning pets, disturbances, overcrowding, code enforcement, after-hour emergencies, mold, lead-based paint, evictions, liability lawsuits, and many other issues that may arise during the course of a tenant’s stay in the home or apartment. Johns encourages, “Whether you’re looking for full-service management, assistance in locating a qualified tenant or becoming a Plant City Rentals tenant, we are ready to provide a free consultation. Call or visit today!”

Plant City Rentals is highly rated on Google and Facebook. Tenants and property owners appreciate the customer service and dedication they experience with Ron Johns and his team. One tenant said, “I love this company, they always go above and beyond. I have been a tenant for 3 years now!!” A property owner agreed, stating, “Has been my property management company for the most of the last nine years. Great people that take care of their clients!” Another reviewed rated Plant City Rentals five stars, “Fantastic customer service! Protect the tenant and landlord. Truly appreciate their hard work. Honest, straightforward and always deliver.”

1701 James L Redman Pkwy, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-3000 PAGE



RAULERSON, CASTILLO AND COMPANY CPAS AND CONSULTANTS, LLC Step into the offices of Raulerson, Castillo and Company and one can feel a strong sense of community. Not only between the office colleagues but also between the certified public accounts and Plant City. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Raulerson, Castillo and Company provide accounting, financial services, tax preparation and consulting to community businesses throughout the Plant City and Brandon area. The team at Raulerson, Castillo and Company strives to help business owners achieve their financial goals so that in turn, those businesses are more profitable. In fact, the firm’s logo of a compass symbolizes how they help clients navigate through the maze of tax laws, regulations, budgeting and strategic planning. Firm partners, Dan Raulerson and Irene Castillo, report that the firm consists of accountants with knowledge in a wide array of concentrations, from audits to estate planning to tax preparation. This experience allows the firm to handle several client concerns. PAGE


“We have a high level of expertise among our professionals who know their craft and know it well,” said Raulerson. Raulerson, Castillo and Company’s clients come from various industries, ranging from agriculture to medicine and transportation. The firm recognizes that their work is beyond the scope of just eastern Hillsborough County. “We know the part of the sector we serve is the economic backbone of this country,” Raulerson shared. “That responsibility is taken seriously in our office.”

Castillo is a 2006 graduate of the University of South Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. While completing the coursework at USF, Castillo interned under Raulerson and joined the firm upon graduation. In 2015, she became a partner in the firm. Currently, Castillo serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and with Aspire, a community women’s organization. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a CPA on your side during these uncertain times is now even more important.

The sense of community doesn’t begin and end simply with the numbers. Each year the staff chooses one day to volunteer at the United Food Bank of Plant City. “It’s important to our staff to assist the community with the financials of small businesses and to give our time to public service,” explained Castillo.

Castillo explained, “As a business advisor we can guide you through the new information being announced daily (and sometimes even hourly) at the federal, state and local levels, so you can effectively run your business. We assist clients by navigating them through this crisis with cash flow forecasting, budgeting, tax planning and clarifying the PPP loan forgiveness process.”

Both Raulerson and Castillo were raised in the area and earned their degrees at Florida universities. They are proud now to give back to the community that raised them.

Castillo continued, “Ultimately, we provide our accounting services to businesses so they can focus on what they do best and rely on us to take care of the rest.”

Raulerson earned his accounting degree in 1979 from Florida State University. A seventh-generation Floridian, he grew up in Brandon but fell in love with Plant City. So much so that he became involved in city government as an elected City Commissioner from 2007 to 2010, before the City Commission elected him to serve as Mayor from 2010 to 2012. In 2012, he was elected to serve District 58 in the Florida House of Representatives. In 2017, Raulerson retired from political office to continue his career in accounting.

One thing is for certain. Raulerson, Castillo and Company uphold the principles of professionalism, responsiveness and quality to provide outstanding service to clients. And it goes without saying that sense of community is at the heart of this highly regarded firm.

1907 S. Alexander Street, #2 | Plant City FL 33566 | 813-752-6604 1411 Professional Park Drive | Brandon FL 33511 | 813-689-9297 PAGE



ROOTED PROPERTY MAINTENANCE “This place will shine like a diamond when we are finished”, said Rhett McClelland, owner and operator of Rooted Property Maintenance. “Customers are shocked when they see the difference we make in the cleanliness of their homes and businesses.” Rooted Property Maintenance is a pressure washing and exterior cleaning company headquartered here in Plant City. Even though the company has only been established since January 2020, McClelland draws on nearly a decade of experience in the exterior cleaning industry. Previously, McClelland worked in the lawn care and construction industries. “Working in the service industry allows you to bring joy into a client’s life … and that’s pretty rewarding to me,” said McClelland. PAGE




McClelland and his wife of 19 years are proud 6th generation Floridians. Being the parents of six children, they know that their connection to this community will continue for generations to come. “With roots so deep in an area,” says McClelland. “It inspired me to name this business Rooted Property Maintenance”. Rooted Property Maintenance uses cleaning solutions and “low pressure” washing to remove dirt, mold, and mildew instead of “high pressure” washing that could potentially damage your home. “When you hire a ‘Schmuck in a Truck’ washing service, sure, they might be cheaper but, they’re typically just removing the surface layer of debris with high pressure,” said McClelland. “With our cleaning solutions, we’re able to remove the deep layers of mold and mildew while also getting rid of years of grime and build up. When we clean a home, we may not have to come back for two to three years.” RPM’s use of “low pressure” washing also helps to ensure that your home and pool screens are damage-free, unlike competitors who

might use high pressure. Amateur pressure washing companies can damage the seals on window panes, rip shingles from roofs, remove paint, damage stucco, and siding or tear pool screens; costing the client additional money for repairs. “I love the satisfaction of taking something that’s really dirty and making it clean. When your home is one of the biggest investments that you’ll make in your life, wouldn’t you want to protect that investment by keeping it clean and presentable?” asked McClelland. “That’s why I got into this industry, to bring joy and satisfaction to my clients by providing an outstanding quality of work from a company you can trust. We’ll go the ‘extra mile’ to get the job done right if you’ll just give us the chance to prove it.” RPM offers pressure washing to driveways, pool screens/decks, roofs, gutters, and houses. The company is available 24-hours to service residential and commercial properties in Hillsborough and Western Polk counties. If you want to feel confident about the company you hire, call Rooted Property Maintenance. Locally owned and operated, RPM cares about the well-being of the greater Plant City community, its citizens, and its future.

(813) 376-5182 | Open 24-Hours PAGE



SMOKIN’ ACES BBQ & STEAKHOUSE In 2012, a simple no-name trailer sat on Highway 92 serving a small menu of barbecue dishes for cash-only. That business flourished and today is known as Smokin’ Aces BBQ & Steakhouse- and perhaps flourished is an understatement. A multi-award winning business, Smokin’ Aces BBQ & Steakhouse is recognized as one of the region's best barbecue restaurants. Smokin’ Aces is ranked the #1 restaurant in Plant City and received the distinction of Traveler’s Choice 2020 on TripAdvisor. Smokin’ Aces BBQ & Steakhouse was founded by Robert Jordan and his sons Robbie and Josh. While playing a family game of Texas Hold ‘Em, Robert’s daughter, Jennifer, recommended naming the business “Smokin’ Aces.” The name stuck and together, along with Robert’s wife, Trish, Smokin’ Aces was born. “In January 2014, Joe Keel asked us to set up at Keel & Curley,” said Robert Jordan. “Keel & Curley needed a food provider and we needed a permanent location.” PAGE


The Jordan family created their business in 2012; the name was inspired by a family game of Texas Hold ‘Em. Smokin’ Aces has won awards with FOCUS Magazine and KCBS-sanctioned barbecue competitions

Smokin’ Aces offers Sirloin steaks, New York Strip, and Rib Eyes, served with your choice of two sides. Smokin’ Aces has won the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards for best steak in its history of winnings.

Smokin’ Aces offers everything from sharable starters like onion rings to BBQ nachos and The King’s Wings, among traditional barbecue fare.

Smokin’ Aces competes in the Suncoast Credit Union Plant City Pig Jam, Lakeland Pig Fest, Lakeland King of the Wings, Temple Terrace BrewFest, and the Wing Ding at Tigertown. The restaurant has a wall dedicated to some of their top honors. Smokin’ Aces has come in the top three for the Pig Jam’s Sauce Competition for four consecutive years. Smokin’ Aces was named 7th Place for Pork Sauce by the National BBQ News and the restaurant’s Mustard Smokin’ Gold 3rd in the nation by Spicin Foods manufacturer. Smokin’ Aces BBQ & Steakhouse has won FOCUS Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award in the categories of Best Wings, Best Steak, and Best BBQ. “We are the only restaurant to participate in Pig Jam and we are Kansas City Barbecue Society-certified, which is a big deal in the barbecue world,” said Jordan. In 2015, Smokin’ Aces moved to its current location at 2509 Park Road. Here, customers are served the Jordan’s award winning barbecue on a daily basis. Robert Jordan is often in the kitchen grilling, frying, and creating dishes for customers, personally. Smokin’ Aces most popular dishes include the Royal Flush for $13.99. Stacked on ciabatta bread, the Royal Flush includes Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Grilled Chicken breast, topped with bacon, BBQ sauce, ranch, and coleslaw. Other popular entrees include USDA Certified Angus Steaks, which are all hand cut boneless and come with a customer’s choice of two

regular sides. Customers can choose from 8 oz. sirloin, 10 oz. or 12 oz. New York Strip, and a 12 oz. or 16 oz. Buckhead Rib Eye. Looking for something to share? Try the BBQ Frito Nachos, which are Frito Scoops piled high with pulled pork, chicken, pico, nacho cheese, BBQ beans, sour cream, & BBQ sauce for $10.99. Substitute for Beef Brisket for an additional $1.99. The King’s Wings include 10 award-winning dry rub-seasoned, grilled wings over an open flame, then smoked and flash fried for $10.99. Planning a party for the holidays, don’t worry about cooking. Instead call Smokin’ Aces to place your order. Offering six catering packages, customers can choose from the restaurant’s famous ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken breasts or wings, grilled sauce or chicken leg quarters and a variety of sides including mac and cheese, collard greens, and more. For more information about catering, call 813-704-1374. Smokin’ Aces is celebrating five years in business at its current location this September. When asked what makes Smokin’ Aces BBQ & Steakhouse different from other barbecue joints, Robert Jordan says the quality of the food and the incredible customer service. “We want to serve the very best and we want customers to return with their friends,” said Jordan. “Thank you to Plant City for supporting our family’s business for the past five years at this location and we look forward to many years to come.”

2509 N Park Rd, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 704-1374 | Mon-Thurs, Sun 11AM to 8PM | Fri & Sat 11AM to 9PM PAGE



STRAWBERRY HUT If you’ve never sunk your teeth into a Cuban sandwich from Strawberry Hut, you’re missing out. The ten-time award-winning sandwiches are truly something to behold- stacked high with Smoked ham, deli ham, mojo pork, salami, swiss cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. People queue up, rain or shine, in front of the original Strawberry Hut to buy what local residents have dubbed the area’s “Best Cuban Sandwich.” They also clamor after the store’s seven variations of Cubans, plus Spanish bean soup, salads, shakes and its namesake shortcakes for lunch. But what makes Strawberry Hut Cuban sandwiches a standout? Simple: The bread. Authentic Ybor City Cuban bread. Pressed or unpressed, with or without Salami, no matter how you like your Cuban, there is no single ingredient that is more important than the quality of the bread. Strawberry Hut uses Cuban bread, made from scratch and baked daily just down the road in historic Ybor City. Order it pressed and the bread is brushed with butter before it's placed on the heated press, adding a crunch and golden, flakey, crust. PAGE


Plant City location

Lakeland location

The Strawberry Hut’s eight sandwich selections are available in 4-inch, 8-inch or 12-inch options, ranging from $3.97 to $7.94, respectively. The lunch special includes a 4-inch sandwich of your choice, chips and a 16 ounce drink for $5.61 plus tax. What would a trip to The Strawberry Hut be without a milkshake? Enjoy a 16 ounce for $2.94 or a 20 ounce for $3.69. Milkshakes are available in these flavors: strawberry, pineapple, banana, mocha, malt, Oreo, vanilla or chocolate. Made with fresh fruit or candies, flavors can be mixed for an extra $0.40. While The Strawberry Hut may be renowned for its Cubans and shakes, the establishment offers salads as well. Every few days, Strawberry Hut gets fresh produce from the farmer’s market for their salads, sandwich toppings, and more. The three salad varietiesChef, Greek, and Garden- are plentiful and served with fresh toppings. Guests have their choice of one of six dressings. The Chef and Greek Salad are $6.96 and the Garden Salad is priced at $4.63. From 6:30a.m. to 10:00a.m., early-risers can enjoy a Strawberry Hut Cuban or biscuit sandwich for breakfast. Guests can choose from egg and cheese biscuits and cubans with their choice of ham, sausage or bacon. The breakfast menu also includes a southern favorite- Sausage Gravy & Biscuit for $2.99. Founded in 1993, Troy and Betty Wilson began leasing 1505 Wheeler Street location, once a Supertest gas station. For 27 years, The Strawberry Hut has served up delicious sandwiches at their Plant City location. Nearly six years ago, the Wilsons opened a second Strawberry Hut in Lakeland. It offers identical prices and the same specialized menu for breakfast and lunch, with authentic Cuban

bread delivered daily from the same Ybor City bakery the Plant City location uses. The Lakeland store has one pronounced difference: it provides indoor, climate-controlled dining in a 3,400-square-foot building that can accommodate up to 100 hungry people. It gives them a choice of eating in or taking out. Not only has The Strawberry Hut received the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for Best Cuban Sandwich 12 years consecutively, The Strawberry Hut has been recognized by Trips to Discover as one of the top 10 Best Sandwich Shops in Florida. also recognizes the restaurant as one of the best places to eat in Plant City on a budget. Big portions on an affordable budget is what the Strawberry Hut is all about. Every year, the Wilsons celebrate the brand’s anniversary by hosting a Customer Appreciation Week. This year, at both restaurants, for the 27th anniversary, they rewarded every 27th customer with a coupon for a free menu item. Many allowed their photos and names to be posted on the Strawberry Hut-Plant City and Strawberry HutLakeland Facebook pages. The Wilsons are grateful for the community’s support, especially Plant City’s, for keeping them going strong for 27 years. “We thank our faithful customers and everyone who has posted great reviews and pictures, encouraging others to eat here,” said Betty Wilson. Her husband heartily agrees. “Plant City has been very good to us,” he said.

1505 N Wheeler St, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-3779 | Mon-Sat 6:30AM to 6:30PM 743 E Memorial Blvd, | Lakeland, FL 33801 | (863) 682-2222 | Tues-Fri 9AM to 5PM (until further notice) PAGE




Plant City

The Crossing Church Plant City Campus is celebrating its first year of ministry this month and what a year it has been! In spite of all of the struggles of 2020, it has been an amazing year of growth, hope, and relationships. In fact, Covid-19 and the social challenges have provided an opportunity for The Crossing Church to pour out God’s love on Plant City by partnering with Metropolitan Ministries to supply regular groceries to some of our Plant City neighborhoods. The church collected food and hygiene supplies that assisted United Food Bank and One More Child care for families affected by the pandemic shutdown. In a creative social media campaign, which highlighted local businesses in Plant City, the church made an effort to keep our local economy running strong. The Plant City Campus provided free Hole In One Donuts and Krazy Kup coffee to the 2020 graduating class at the Plant City Graduates Parade. The Crossing Church was able to stay connected, and even grow, as a church body throughout the shutdown by quickly converting life groups to virtual gatherings, by creating daily online content to engage with, and by creating safe environments for teenagers to connect in. Now that everything is back open and running again, Lead Pastor Greg Dumas and the entire Crossing Church family is looking forward with great anticipation for another amazing year in Plant City. Plant PAGE


City Campus Pastor, Michael Pippin, said, “When we opened up a year ago, who would have thought that we would have had to face so many unique challenges. However, once again, God has shown Himself faithful as He has placed us, as His church, in a position to love on and bless our city.” Here are some things that others have said about the church: What I love about Crossing PC is the warmth and love of the people for one another and the feeling that God is there in our services. – Charlene W. At Crossing PC the people and the sense of community are truly amazing! – Heather A. The church makes me feel at home...comfortable to learn, ask questions, to grow and mature in my faith while challenging me to open my eyes and heart to God's will. It's just home to me. – Maureen G. The Plant City Campus makes me feel at home because of the great pastors, messages and people. – Holly B. The feeling of "Family" is palpable when you are in the building. – Andy D. I love the group of folks that are working together to bring a church to Plant city that is multicultural, relevant and focused on what God is doing now, in this time and season. – Mathew N. The Plant City Campus is like coming home. You're greeted with a smile and folks are genuine. This is the place to get connected! – Elyzabeth T. I love the warm feeling like Christ is present in the room with us from the moment I walk in until the moment I leave. – Scott P. What I love most about the Crossing Church is the environment, the love that is given by God's presence and showing through the members of the church! – Daniel M. I love that Crossing PC is so active in the community. The church gets out in front of community issues and steers difficult conversations towards peace and change. The high school program is, by far, the coolest one I've ever seen. – Joy R.

I love my Crossing PC family! There is a tight-knit group of people that make you feel welcomed and a part of the family! I feel as if no matter what I'm going through "The Fam" has my back! – Monique P. I don't feel lost in the sea of people anymore. I see my Pastor and I know he sees me, my family, he knows us. – Natalie A. I love the genuineness of the people. No fluff. Just regular people that love the Lord doing life together. – Jimmy M. I have found a foundation of love and support. The messages are often exactly what I need! – Kris P.

I love the opportunity that we get to hear our many talented pastors who each share a different perspective and preaching style that is essential to supporting the diverse congregation that we have! – Jaedyn F.

I love that it has everything that a large church offers but with a small family feel at the PC campus. And the worship team is AWESOME!! – Amanda T.

I love the Crossing Church because it has shown me how to have a personal relationship with God, and it is a visionary, on the move type church working to lead people to Christ. – Josh F.

I feel at peace at the PC campus. I feel like I'm counted and not just a face. – Patricia H.

507 S. Wheeler Street, | Plant City, FL 33563 | *Located inside the MadZone Bounce House Building 813.626.0783 | | | Facebook & Instagram: @crossing.pc Service: Family Worship Service Sundays 10:30 AM, Crossing Student Ministry (HS & MS Only) Wednesdays 7PM PAGE



V.E.V. FITNESS & NUTRITION When Elias Calvillo returned home from deployment with the U.S. Army in 2014, he and his wife, Ayerim, began exploring options for the next chapter of their life. Passionate about fitness and nutrition, friends encouraged the couple to start a business, helping others improve their health and achieve fitness goals. The Calvillos began their business in October 2014, offering complimentary community workouts and working with an exclusive, preferred membership base. In July 2020, they decided to make a simple decision to open offer their supplement shakes and drinks to the public. V.E.V. Fitness & Nutrition is located at the corner of Evers Street and Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. “V.E.V. is all about positive vibes and encouraging others to live a healthier, active lifestyle. Our business is very relationship-based, and after a few visits, we will remember your name,” said Ayerim. At V.E.V. Fitness and Nutrition, customers can choose from the shop’s three drink products: Nutritional Shakes, Energy Teas, and Protein Coffees. Nutritional Shakes: V.E.V. offers over 15 delicious flavors, including Pecan Caramel, Churro, Reece’s Peanut Butter, Banana Caramel and more! Seasonal flavors are also available. It’s important to note these are not milkshakes, there is no milk used to maintain it as healthy as possible, and customers can ask for no whipped cream topping. They are low calorie, low carb, but high in nutrition with over 21 vitamins and minerals. “Everything in our shakes is plant-based,” said Elias. “They are great meal replacement shakes and a great option for people looking for a simple, guilt-free treat.” PAGE


Photo Courtesy of Karah Rice Photography

Energy Teas: With a blend of two dark teas, aloe, and five B vitamins, Mega Teas help keep drinkers energized, alert, and focused throughout the day. Mega Teas are under 30 calories, under 8 grams of carbs, and sugar-free. Mega Teas are available in 20-ounce and 32-ounce options. Protein Coffees: Available in Mocha and House Blend, V.E.V’s coffees are served iced or hot with 100 calories, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein per serving. “Our products are something one can benefit from- moms, dads, and kids,” said Elias. V.E.V. customers travel from Lakeland & Mulberry to pick up drinks. “We have one customer that said they come all this way and always walk out feeling good.” As a young couple in business, the Calvillos are passionate about not only helping others achieve their health and fitness goals but also achieve their personal goals.

“We’ve coached six other couples, who were clients of ours, in what we are doing; there’s a piece of the pie for everyone to succeed.” The couple sees a bright future in the downtown area, and they’re excited to be apart of the future as downtown has “come to life over recent years.” V.E.V. is more than a shake, tea, and coffee bar. Ayerim says due to COVID-19, the business has had to postpone community events. Soon they will invite fitness instructors into the shop to host classes with everything from Zumba, Yoga, and more. Be sure to follow the V.E.V. Fitness & Nutrition Facebook page @V.E.VNutrition and their Instagram account @vevfitnessandnutrition for information about upcoming events.

113 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, | Plant City, Florida, 33563 | Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM to 6 PM, Sat 8 AM to 1 PM Facebook: @V.E.VNutrition | Instagram @vevfitnessandnutrition PAGE



WISHING WELL BARN Long before Wishing Well Barn was a sought-after Central Florida event venue, it was an agricultural hub for Blake and Michelle Welch’s children to focus on their projects for 4-H and FFA. “Together, my husband and I have a blended family of five sons,” Michelle said. “Our boys grew up raising cows, pigs, chicken and rabbits in this barn. And if their friends or other kids in the community didn’t have a space to raise their animals, my husband would build them a space in the barn for them.” For a long time, the barn was just that: dirt floors, hay stacked to the roof and a place to park a tractor and raise animals and plants for the Florida Strawberry Festival. But in 2012, the Welch’s son Kyle was determined to have his wedding reception in the barn. The family began transforming the barn so Kyle and his wife, Railynne, could have their reception. “When we were planning for it, it was just a one-time thing since I was a teacher at the time,” Michelle said. But her best friend, Southern Hospitality owner Shelly Connell, encouraged her to pursue transforming the barn into a venue. “She could tell how much I enjoyed it. But my husband said, ‘You’re crazy, nobody is going to pay to have their wedding in a barn.’” PAGE


Owner and founder, Michelle Welch

In November 2019, the venue announced that couples can now get married in a blueberry field.

Still, Michelle decided to incorporate the barn and she and Blake became co-owners, with her as president and her husband as vice president. After Kyle’s wedding on June 15, pictures of the event flooded Facebook and Michelle’s phone started ringing. By December, 10 weddings were booked. Soon, pictures of the wedding flooded Facebook and Michelle’s phone started ringing. While the Welch’s were able to have the wedding for their son, getting approval to have additional events would lead Michelle to Tallahassee. She worked closely with Sen. Kelli Stargel, former Rep. Jake Raburn and former Rep. Neil Combee for a year and a half on an agritourism law, eventually amending the law to allow weddings on agricultural property. “At the time, Hillsborough County told me if I ever did get it approved there would be a barn on every corner,” Michelle said. “And they were correct!” The law passed in 2013, and today Michelle still serves on and is a founding member of the Florida Agritourism Association. Since then, Wishing Well Barn has hosted over 600 events spanning from weddings and birthday parties and church gatherings to charity events, family reunions and celebrations of life. The barn, while still used for agriculture, has also transformed, with a chandelier added to the ceiling and the space doubled in size. “With limitations in place due to COVID-19, we can still host events because our barn is an open space,” Michelle said. “We’ve been able to help quite a few families with rescheduling their events to our open space. We’re not shut down because we are a fully functioning cattle and blueberry farm.” Michelle serves as the primary event planner and has 15 employees including associate planners, a parking valet team, catering staff, set up and clean up crews and landscaping staff. “We work with additional vendors including deejays, photographers, videographers and bakers,” she said. “The fun part that’s meaningful to

The design team at Wishing Well Barn can make your weddings dreams a reality.

me is that we’ve been able to help local vendors with their businesses. The economic wheel of a wedding venue is far-reaching.” For Michelle, happy customers coming back for a second, third or fourth event is the greatest compliment she can receive. “We want every family to feel like they’re having their event on the family farm,” she said. “We want them to feel like they were treated like family.” Michelle describes herself as a 24/7 kind of person who always has her cell phone on her. When planning events, her granddaughter, Calleigh Jo, can be found following her around with clipboard in tow. “She’s the future wedding planner,” Michelle said. Her grandsons, Cullen and Easton, will both turn two in late December. Their main role these days is in the blueberry tasting department. To book an event or find out more, visit

4302 Pippin Road, Plant City, Florida 33567 | | (813) 478-6554 Facebook: Wishing Well Barn | Instagram: @wishingwellbarn PAGE


FOCUSBUSINESS chocolate-covered strawberries or cookies. El Mirasol’s cooler is stocked with pre-made cakes, or customers can call in a custom cake order for their special occasion. For customers who want to sample Tres Leches Cake before ordering, El Mirasol offers Tres Leches cake slices in its cooler. In a Google review, customer Nick I. shared his experience ordering a Tres Leches Cake from El Mirasol: “If you are looking for a tres leches cake .... you found the right place!! Tried the cake service for the first time recently. They nailed the design, color, flavors, fillings, everything was great!” Adjacent to the baked goods, El Mirasol offers a full-service meat counter. From fajita (steak) to Chorizo (spicy pork sausage) to specialty meats, like Menudo (beef tripe) and Higado (liver), customers can purchase a variety of meats by the pound with prices starting as low as $2.99 per pound. Once selected, El Mirasol’s friendly staff will pull and wrap the customer’s items. Rachel L., from Valrico, said she travels to El Mirasol to order from the meat counter when she is planning a “taco feast.” “I always buy the seasoned beef from the butcher case, it sauteed up nice and is already perfectly seasoned,” said the Yelp reviewer.


Whether you’re looking for a delicious cake for your next special occasion or need fresh cuts of steak for fajita night, be sure to support El Mirasol, a familyowned and operated business in the heart of Plant City. For more information about their bakery or meat department, call (813) 752-2108.

Make an early morning trip into El Mirasol at 1419 South Collins Street, and the bakery area is bustling with shoppers picking up authentic Mexican pastries and slices of bread- and we’re not talking bread in a plastic bag in the supermarket. These pieces of bread and pastries are made fresh every day. At El Mirasol, customers will find dozens of variations to satisfy nearly any taste preference, from flavors like vanilla or chocolate to fillings like cream, fruit, or nuts. The most popular and widely-known bread, Conchas, or sweet bread, has a dome shape, and it’s decorated with a unique four and sugar paste resembling a seashell, which gives it its name. El Mirasol carries various colors and flavors of conchas and other types of bread, such as Cuernos de Canela, a crescent-shaped pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar. The company is owned by the Gama Family, who opened their first panadería, or bakery, on Turkey Creek Road back in 1987. Since then, fresh-baked breads, pastries, and cakes have been a cornerstone of the family business. “The bakery and serving fresh bread is where it all began and where our family got its start,” said Will Gama, El Mirasol’s general manager. Looking for a cake for a special occasion, like a birthday, wedding, or anniversary? Check out El Mirasol’s selection of Tres Leches cakes, comprising sponge cake soaked in three milk varieties: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Tres Leches Cakes are served chilled. Cakes are piped with roses, balloons, and other decorations, like

1419 S Collins St, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-2108 | Mon- Sat 6 AM to 9 PM | Sun 6 AM to 8PM PAGE




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FOCUSBUSINESS “From the very beginning, the goal was for each store to be a beacon of light in each community that they serve,” said Ed. “We strive to set ourselves apart from the competition with excellent customer service, our excellent employees, and quality products, convenience, and community involvement.” But Harvest Meat Market is more than just a butcher shop and meat market. The company is a true community partner. Ed was a former FFA officer thus, Harvest provides support for middle school and high school FFA chapters in Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, and Hardee counties, and sports programs, Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, and more. The meat market provides food boxes for those in need, benevolence support for those that have lost a loved one, and emergency support for fire victims, abuse victims, hurricane, and tornado victims. Also, Ed and Anita Kirkland are ordained ministers and support churches and other nonprofit organizations.


While the Kirklands may have built their success from the meat business, they love their customers and the local community. If you’re looking for a meat market with affordable prices, quality products, a massive heart for the community, and exceptional customer service, look no further than Harvest Meat Market. Find a location near you, inquire about catering services, and place an order at

Highland City-native Ed Kirkland’s career in the meat business began in junior high school, working at Bert’s Market. It was there he learned to cut meat, and when he went to Bartow High School, he joined the FFA Meat Judging team. It was in these years that he developed a passion for meat. It wasn’t until he retired from WPCV Radio, that he and his wife of twelve years, Anita, decided to make his dream of owning a meat market come true. In June 2010, they opened their first Harvest Meat Market on Lakeland’s Combee Road. Today, the couple is celebrating 11 years in business with seven Polk County locations. Dave and Lori Kish are franchise owners of Highland City and Lake Wales locations. With many loyal customers from Plant City and surrounding areas, the Kirklands are looking at possible location sites in Hillsborough County. Harvest Meat Market’s Value Packs and Freezer Meat Packs are among the most popular with customers. Each pack includes a variety of cuts from chicken wings and drumsticks to spare ribs or cube steak. Customers can go online to to view each pack option, place an order online, and pick up curbside. Harvest accepts cash, credit, debit, EBT, or SNAP. What sets Harvest apart from other meat markets is its products, customer service, and commitment to the community. The Kirklands have always said they’re not in the meat or grocery business but the people business. Harvest offers a 10 percent discount for active military personnel, veterans, first responders, and teachers on select items and 10 percent off select items for seniors 55 and older on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Seven Polk County Locations to Serve You | PAGE



FOCUSBUSINESS For a quick and affordable lunch, turn to Mi Casa’s lunch entrees, served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The lunch menu comprises Chimichanga, Enchiladas, Burrito, Tamales, Tacos, Carne Guisada, Quesadillas, Puerco con Chile Verde, all priced at $8.99 and the Chicken Fajita plate priced at $10.99. For guests 21+, the bar is stocked with draft beers and a selection of liquors for cocktails. Mi Casa often runs 2-for-1 specials. The restaurant serves homemade yummy sangrias, which is a Plant City favorite. To add to the ambiance of a trip to the Southwest, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant is brightly painted with murals depicting river scenes and boats, among other imagery. The restaurant was built by a family, for families with a kids menu that includes tacos, chicken nuggets and corn dogs with fries. The Gamas saw how well Mi Casa was received, she decided to open a second location In Riverview in 2012. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina was born. Located on Big Bend Road, Mi Casa is situated on one of Riverview’s main thoroughfares. The cantina features a large outdoor patio with a fountain where guests can enjoy the beautiful Florida weather. “We’re still growing with a third location in the works,” said the Gama family. Staff at both locations are taking the mandated precautions to protect customers from COVID-19. Servers are wearing masks and gloves, menus are sanitized after every use, and dining tables, chairs, bar tops and restrooms are sanitized frequently.


If you’re looking for a family-friendly atmosphere or a location to grab margaritas for a girls’ night out, look no further than Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, where “mi casa es su casa.”

When lunchtime rolls around, there is one place in town that always offers affordable entrees with hearty portions and tons of flavor: Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant. Conveniently located in the Publix plaza on Thonotosassa Road, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant offers Tex-Mex style dishes, inspired by the flavors of the southwest. The restaurant is owned and operated by the Gama family, the owners of El Mirasol; the family’s passion for fresh ingredients and housemade recipes are what bring folks back again and again. One taste of their Guacamole appetizer is all the proof you need of truly fresh, delicious ingredients. Made with fresh avocados, lime juice and seasonings served on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and pico de gallo, this appetizer is sure to please a crowd. One of the more popular items on Mi Casa’s menu is Gordo’s Wet Burrito which consists of a large burrito filled with shredded beef, rice, beans, lettuce and pico de gallo, topped with enchilada sauce, cheese, and sour cream.

2613 Thonotosassa Rd. | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-752-0057 Monday-Sunday: 11am-3pm, Lunch; 3pm-10pm, Dinner PAGE





UNCLE G’S BED & BISCUIT When choosing a groomer or boarding facility, Plant City pet parents turn to Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit. Founded in September 2001 by the Noonans, Virginia & Gary (also known as Uncle G) as a pet kennel and in 2016, Mark & Diane Krieger purchased the business. Caring for animals is more than a profession for the Krieger family- it’s a passion! This year, Uncle G’s is celebrating 19 years as Plant City & Dover’s premier animal grooming and boarding services provider.

Rub-A-Dub-Dub: Grooming at Uncle G’s

When choosing a groomer, pet owners look for experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit is committed to delivering the best grooming experience possible. Pets are treated with care and compassion, creating a stress-free environment. While regular grooming certainly helps to maintain your pet's coat and tidy up their appearance, its most important benefit is improving their health and hygiene. Dogs have some self-grooming abilities, but they can't scrub away accumulated dirt, oil, hair, and skin cells. Uncle G’s Grooming packages include a haircut, bath, nail clipping, clean pads of feet, ear hair removal/cleaning, anal glands cleanse, sanitary clean, and special shampooing (at no extra charge). Pricing for canines is based on size, with Pomeranians at $44 and Chows ranging from $45 to $55. Pricing for felines depends on services required: Bathing $30-$35 or Bath and Shave $60 to $70. Canine nail clippings are $12 and feline nail clippings are $14. Join Uncle’s G Grooming Rewards Club for keeping your pet looking their best. Purchase five grooming visits and get your sixth visit free. Ask for a Grooming Rewards card at your next visit.

Catch Some Z’s: Boarding at Uncle G’s

Going out of town and need a safe, comfortable kennel for your furry friend? Consider Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit your home away from home! Dogs can feel free to run around the outdoor play area and play with Uncle G’s staff of animal lovers. Check-in with two other doggie friends and get a discount on your stay. Pets then unwind and relax in the climate-controlled kennel after their fun-filled day in the sun. Cats can climb to their heart's content. Unsheathe those claws and prowl around the activity area. After exploring, felines can stretch out in one of the secluded cat condos and take a long nap. Call Uncle G’s to inquire about pricing for boarding. If you want to spoil your pet with a day to the groomer or need a safe, comfortable boarding facility while you’re out of town, look no further than Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit at 1821 Stephens Lane in Dover. Call Mark Krieger and her team to book your tour at (813) 689-6725.

1821 Stephens Lane, | Dover, FL 33527 | (813) 689-6725 | PAGE


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Actual patient. Before and after


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harris By Katie Hamilton

Logan Harris is one of the most dedicated swimmers that Plant City High School has ever seen. Harris started swimming as early as 6-years-old, and immediately fell in love with the sport. Harris quoted, “I have been around the water all of my life and I never feel out-ofplace in the water.” Logan swam locally on a team as a young child, but it was cut short when the team was unfortunately cancelled. Logan was happy when as a Freshman he was able to return to the water and swim on the varsity PCHS team. Harris is Plant City kid through and through: He attended Walden Lake Elementary School, Tomlin Middle School, and now is a senior at Plant City High School. In addition to swimming for PCHS, Harris also swims for the Riptide swim team as a club swimmer. Swimming year-round, Harris is able to work on mastering his strokes during the summer, which prepares him for the fall high school swim season. Harris stated that club swimming can be “intimidating” which at times left him with feelings of inadequacy.Physically, Logan claimed he was lacking; he said that it was hard to keep up with the athletes who had been on the club team longer. In spite of that, Logan persisted, calling on his positive mindset and practicing harder. The negative mindset of “I cannot do this” is what temporarily put barriers in place, but he overcame those and was able to begin reaching his full potential in the fall of 2019. One evening at a PCHS meet, Harris prepared to swim the dreadful 100 Butterfly. He knew what was in front of him and yet he gave it his all. The grueling race caused his arms to burn terribly, but in the end, the win gave him a sense of accomplishment made it worth the pain. Pre-game chants and swatting his legs and arms give an adrenaline rush which helps Harris take on the role as team cheerleader. Logan is a full-on team player; he is always on the sides of the pool sacrificing his voice to cheer for his fellow teammates. As a senior, Harris explained how hard it will be for him to say goodbye to the swim team. For Harris, swimming is not just about being in the water, it is also about after meet dinners, laughing at fellow teammates failed dives, and just enjoying time together before and after practice. The memories he has made are very special to him and he will remember them for the rest of his life. PAGE


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Team of the Month

Plant City High School Junior Varsity Cheer Team By Katie Hamilton


hether shaking pom poms or practicing stunts, the Plant City High School Junior Varsity cheer team is a group of girls filled with absolute pride for their sport. Many high schools have cheerleaders, but not all cheer teams have the sisterly bond that these girls share. These girls quite literally finish each other’s sentences. For example, Amanda Parrish (11), Brianna Tackitt (11), and Kyleigh Glenn (11) all said that they are proud to be Raiders and are ecstatic to be at practice with their friends. Daelin Kelly (11), a flyer for the team, explained that she tried out for cheer in hopes of being part of something bigger at school and now, alongside her Raider teammates, she feels that plan is coming to fruition, in spite of the looming global pandemic. As with all teams, positivity is key, and even though these girls are part of an exuberant cheer team, sometimes it is difficult to maintain a happy attitude while wearing a mask. Together, the team collectively agrees that their greatest weakness,



at times, is their mindset. However, they are able to overcome the stress that wearing a mask causes knowing that in the end, they are making improvements and supporting the JV Raider football team. Even when practicing with a mask, the girls agree that it is better to be back on the mats, supporting their team. After almost five months of quarantine, they are giving it their all, hanging on to hopes that sports do not get cancelled. The social effects of Covid-19 have altered many plans and have changed the day-to-day environment at school. Simply put, due to Coronavirus, all the away games have been cancelled. Daelin Kelly said that the cancellations “put a damper” on cheer and that the season simply will not be the same without traveling to the away games. Hailey Pippin (10) agreed and further explained, “Covid-19 has already taken so much from students last school year.” Indeed, the girls are dealing with a balance between being happy to be back at school and being frustrated with the lingering Covid 19 virus.

Under the new supervision of Coach Chelsea Lauer, this team is doing a great job of balancing academics and cheer all at the same time while dealing with some new protocols. Some of the girls said they even go as far as mapping out an entire week of homework just so they can maintain a stress-free cheer lifestyle. And as the big rivalry games between the JV football teams of Strawberry Crest, Durant, and Plant City get closer, the girls say they will continue to work hard so that their season is a success. Coach Lauer said she helps to keep them focused by instilling words of inspiration that pushes them toward greatness. Gracie Garner (9) and Brianna Schaub (10) who have cheered outside of school said they are seeing big improvements under Lauer’s coaching style. The cheerleading team is a mixed bag when it comes to how long each has been cheering, but on game nights, they will come together connected by Raider school spirit.







Meet the

Maker: Bryant Martinez


By Heather Davis Photography by Joeseff Mecias

ryant Martinez is an innovative artist whose primary focus is to uplift, inspire, and invigorate the community around him through art. In doing so he is seeking to fill a gap where art is not always accessible and provide a beacon of light and hope for those who need it the most. As an art instructor for Winthrop Arts, Inc., Martinez has expanded to teach art to children in the community by and through the Mobile Arts Factory. The Mobile Arts Factory in combination with the Hispanic Services Council offers art instruction to children of Latin and Immigrant families in the local area. What has transpired with this union of arts has been something both inspiring and transformative for the children and their families. An eight week art program is offered in conjunction with other programs offered through HSC throughout the year to children ages five to seventeen. The Mobile Arts Program is in its third year in Wimauma and has just began to take off here in Plant City. The second program is already in session at The First Baptist Church and is filled with eager and excited children ready to create and learn about art under the careful instruction of Martinez. An amazing aspect of the Mobile Arts Program is how the community embraces the art projects the local children create. In Wimauma much of their art is on display at Garcia Bakery. Here in Plant City, the first group of children created an art project which was themed Nature & Self Portraits. Their art work is on display at Krazy Kup and an Artist Reception is planned which will include the students on Thursday, September 17th at 5pm and will be broadcast virtually. The Mobile Arts Program has provided the ability for children who may have never had the chance to experience art in such a way to receive an experience in art that may shape how they see and view the world and their place in it. It also gives us, the viewer, a chance to view the world through their eyes and offer us new perspectives. It takes people with a vision and a heart of caring, like Martinez, to make it happen and show us what is possible. For more information on Winthrop Arts, please visit Winthrop Arts, Inc. or call 813-758-5161.









When did you realize your need for Jesus? At the age of 7, my family lived in McMinnville, Tennessee and we started attending Madison Street Baptist Church. Soon I realized I needed a savior and placed my trust in Jesus Christ. My life has never been the same and I have never gotten over that day. At the age of 10, my family moved to Kingston where my brother and I attended a local church. There I surrendered to the call of God on my life – to ministry and preaching of the Gospel. What brought you to GraceWay? I was traveling in full time evangelism when God brought me to this struggling congregation, formerly known as Springhead Baptist Church. After being on the field for a short time, it was evident we really needed to end one legacy and start a new church called GraceWay Church. We are a new church in every sense of the word.

Leaders in

Faith DeWayne Howard, Lead Pastor at GraceWay Church in Plant City. By Cheryl Johnston


ast Tennessee native DeWayne Howard serves as the Lead Pastor at GraceWay Church in Plant City. Born in Athens and raised in Kingston, after graduating from Roane County High School he enrolled and attended Andersonville Theological Seminary in Camilla, Georgia. Married to his “beautiful bride and helpmate,” Sheryl Ann Howard, together they have three children: Dwight (22), Colleen (17), and Reagan (13). Sheryl serves alongside her husband as Ministry Assistant and oversees the offices, IT systems, and other administrative roles. In his spare time, “Pastor D” loves hanging out with family and friends, visiting theme parks, comedy shows, a good family movie, bike rides, singing, Magic with a Message ‘Gospel Illusions,’ entertaining, and social media. “We are so thankful to be part of the amazing Plant City community,” he shared. “We love the small hometown feel with lots of local businesses and friendly people, the Strawberry Festival, and all the community events around town.”



What do you enjoy most about your work? I enjoy being able to lead people to experience God’s grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness…in short…HOPE. Everyone needs a fresh start in life, free from judgment and condemnation. Grace makes that happen! Jeremiah 29:11 has always been my life verse. Life has a way of beating us up and leaving us feeling hopeless with no reason to live. Christ promises to bless us by giving us a HOPE and a FUTURE. No matter where you have been, what you’ve done or what’s been done to you…THERE IS HOPE IN JESUS! Do you have a favorite way to share your faith? Yes, serving others through random acts of kindness to show God’s love in practical ways, no strings attached, is my favorite way to connect with people. This opens doors for me to be able to share with them how much God loves them and wants a relationship with them, to give them HOPE through GRACE. I believe if Jesus were here walking in the flesh today, this is exactly what He’d be doing. What would you suggest to those considering the Christian faith? Keep searching. Your answer is not in a church, a religion, a creed, or behavior modification. Your answer is found in a person…Jesus Christ. You don’t have to understand Jesus or make sense of it all, but only to put your faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross. It’s not about you do or don’t do, but what He’s already done for you. Any advice for those already following Christ? You’re not perfect and there’s no need to get wrapped up in trying harder. Just be faithful to following Jesus and sharing Him with others. When you do, Loving God and Loving People won’t seem so difficult. Be faithful and finish well! "Pastor D” and the GraceWay Church family welcome your visit to 3106 S. Wiggins Road for the Sunday Worship Celebration at 11:00 a.m. or online at or Facebook. Phone 813-752-4879 for additional information.

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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens

Mem'ries, Light the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories Of the way we were Scattered pictures, Of the smiles we left behind Smiles we gave to one another For the way we were


Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet What's too painful to remember We simply choose to forget So it's the laughter We will remember Whenever we remember... The way we were...

o now I truly understand the words to this beautiful Barbara Streisand song!!!

October 3rd will be one year ago that my sister and I said “Good-Bye” to our beloved Mother. I can honestly say that I have felt just about every second of every day since I lost my best friend, my confidante, my greatest gift, my Mother!!!!



Sure I can look at the hundreds of pictures of Dance recitals, Birthday parties, Holidays, Halloween costumes, School and classroom photos, Girl Scout ceremonies, family vacations, new cars, new outfits, new hairdos, and on and on but there IS NO PERSON responsible for all of those WONDERFUL AND HAPPY TIMES in my life more than my mother. She and my father worked hard to provide the most wonderful life for my sister and I. Its not just the material things that she and Daddy gave us but more importantly it was their love and constant support. EACH AND EVERY DAY they told us and showed us how much they loved us, how much we meant to them, and how much we had to offer as human beings. They taught us to love one another and treat others with love and respect, to be aware of our actions, and to always put our best foot forward. We were also taught that people are humans and that humans make mistakes and that we should learn from our mistakes. They taught us to stand tall and that we are STRONG AND SMART AND THAT WE MATTER AND THAT….WELL…JUST ON AND ON!!! Each day since my Mother passed away, I have (thru the GRACE OF GOD) gotten my head off of the pillow each morning and worked thru each day. I think is probably been one of the hardest things that I have EVER DONE!!!!I can tell you that I have had some pain in my life but the loss of my Mother is


IMMEASURABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When my mother got sick last year and was going out the door to the hospital I looked and her and said: “Wait a Minute Mom”..What if something goes wrong and you don’t come back?” She looked and me and smiled and said: “Well I hope that I come back, I am planning on coming back, BUT IF I DON’T??? Just remember that you and your sister are grown up now and you two really don’t need me!!! You may want me but you two are strong and I expect you to take care of each other! Also remember that you are good and the world is good and I WANT YOU TWO TO GO ON!” and with that…she was gone in just a few day! My Mother was so soft and sweet and kind and loved people and loved to laugh. She loved to read, she loved animals, she loved her soaps, she loved her friends and family, she loved to cook, she loved pink, and she loved beautiful things. We were able to give her a beautiful celebration of life that was filled with her friends and family, beautiful songs, some of her beautiful things, and the color PINK! I thought that I would share a few beautiful photos from that day. I LOVE YOU MOMMY!!! WITH ALL MY HEART AND ALL THAT I AM!!! THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE GREATEST GIFT….YOU!!!!!



Plant City


Happenings SEPTEMBER

26 UnWINEd Yoga

19 Plant City Strawberry Classic Cruise-In

3:00PM Classic Cars & Trucks | Live DJ Downtown Plant City @ 102 N. Palmer Street Cost: Free Info: Plant City Chamber of Commerce, (813) 754-3707




9:00AM Yoga in the Vineyards | All Levels Yoga Flow by KOA Yoga Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: $10, Info: 813-323-2931


06 Raise a Glass with Rise 5:00PM Young Professionals Social + Networking Roots Taproom & Wine Bar @ 101 S. Evers St Cost: Free Info: (813) 754-3707

LEGO Movie Night

Plant City Bike Fest

7:00PM LEGO themed food + drink | FamilyFriendly | All ages welcome The Industry @ 119 S. Collins St Cost: Free, Reservation required Info: The Industry, (813) 756-6955

4:30PM Motorcycle Show | Food Trucks Vendor Market | Live Music Downtown Plant City @ 102 N. Palmer St Cost: Free to Attend Info: (813) 754-3707



Trivia Night

Ahava’s 75th Anniversary

6:30PM, 7:30PM Celebrity Themed | BYOB Family-Friendly The Industry @ 119 S. Collins St Cost: Free Info: The Industry, (813) 756-6955

10:00AM Guest Speakers | Song Specials Dinner on the Grounds Ahava Baptist Church @ 6015 W. Farkas Rd. Cost: Free Info: Ahava Baptist Church, (813) 737-3739

10AM Weekends Only until Nov. 1 Pumpkin Patches | Corn Mazes Hay Rides 3002 Charlie Taylor Rd N Cost: 18+: $11 + tax; 3-17: $10 + tax; 2 and under: Free, Cash Only, No ATM on Site Info:


Plant City Ag Tour


9th Annual Fox Squirrel Corn Maze

8:00AM Tour Ranches, Barns, and Farms Four Hillsborough County Locations Cost: $20, Chamber Members Only, Registration Required Info: (813) 754-3707 10 Saturday Volunteer Day @ PC Community Gardens 9:00AM Lend time + talent to City garden PC Community Garden @ 2001 E. Cherry St Cost: Free Info: (813) 435-8111

11 Grand Opening of Graceway Church 11:00AM New Church Celebration | Experience God in a Whole New Way Graceway Church 3106 S. Wiggins Road Cost: Free Info: Graceway Church, (813) 752-4879

-SAT 9-7


-SAT 9-7 N-SAT 9-7

-SAT 9-7 -SAT 9-7

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unts apply. BOGO items DO NOT apply. You get the total number of packs in each pack.

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Gallery of Plant City

First Day Back to School 2020 On August 31, students, teachers and staff returned to brick-andmortar campuses to begin the 2020-2021 school year. It was the first time kids and teachers returned to their schools since mid-March due to COVID-19. While students are required to wear a mask at school, Plant City families didn’t let that deter the exciting spirit of a new school year. Photos were submitted to the FOCUS Magazine Facebook page. Follow us @focusplantcity to submit yours.

Jaida- 9th Grade

Gunnar- 7th Grade

Jaxson- 6th Grade

Piper Mae-K4

Trey- 10th Grade

Jax- 1st Grade

Paitlyn- 5th Grade

Rylan- 1st Grade



Christian- 10th Grade

McKenna- 12th Grade

Presley- 2nd Grade

Presley & Rylan

Gallery of Plant City

Brenham- 8th Grade, | Deacon- 6th

Jayden- 5th Grade | Avery- 1st Grade

Maverick- 1st Grade

Emma & Alexis -6th Grade

5th Grade

Harper- 1st Grade




Makyla- 7th Grade

3rd Grade

Ethan- 10th Grade

Hudson- 4th Grade PAGE


a Gallery of Plant City

Hungry Howie’s Backpack Giveaway The team at Hungry Howie’s on Alexander Street give backpacks to kids in the community on Thursday, August 27. The backpacks were pre-stuffed with a notebook, a ruler, and mask among other items.Pelican’s Snoballs and Family Bowl each provided vouchers for the backpack recipients to use at their respective businesses in celebration of going back to school. Photography was sponsored by Hungry Howie’s Plant City.




a. Owner Ali Sobh asked each student their name, their school name, and what the students are most looking forward to as they go back to school. b. The kids were excited to receive their new backpacks and a voucher to Pelican’s and Family Bowl in celebration of going back to school. c. The team at Hungry Howie’s handed out 100 free pre-stuffed backpacks to kids in the community to help those in need. d. Families were required to pre-register to pickup their backpacks and Hungry Howie’s held the event later in the evening to work around busy scheduled for parents. e. Students could pick from a dozen colors including neutrals, primary, and neon. Each bag included a notebook, ruler, and a mask, among other items. PAGE







120 N Collins St Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 704-6015 Mon - Sat 8AM to 4PM PAGE


Gallery of Plant City

Yoga in the Park Plant City Main Street held its free, monthly Yoga in the Park event on September 5 in McCall Park. The yoga session was led by Koa Yoga Studios and attendees are asked to bring their own mat, towel, and water bottle. Attendees are guided through a flow suitable for all skill levels. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie’s Plant City




























Profile for Floyd Publications

FOCUS Plant City 19-09  

FOCUS Magazine Plant City Edition Issue 19-09 September 2020

FOCUS Plant City 19-09  

FOCUS Magazine Plant City Edition Issue 19-09 September 2020

Profile for focusmag

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