The former home of a local pizza and pasta joint will soon be dishing out huge burgers, salads and other American favorites.
Rocking Cafe, a new restaurant on Donnelly, is scheduled to open by mid-November and will feature a casual American menu. The small cafe's decor pays homage to the music of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Many will remember the location as the long-time home of PizzAmore, a local favorite that moved to a larger 5th Avenue location last year.
The small bungalow setting will soon be serving Rocking Cafe's half pound burgers, mahi fish tacos, Philly cheesesteaks, and deli sandwiches. On the lighter side, customers can choose from several salads, including the summer salad featuring fresh fruits and greens. Starters include soft pretzels and pork rind nachos. Menu items are creatively named after concert jargon that includes a “Sound Check,” “Tour Bus” and “Backstage Passes.”
The cafe's owner, Carl Smith, is an avid collector of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia and plans to rotate the decor with hundreds of pieces from his own collection. Smith is also providing a guitar and amp outside for customers that would like to play. Eventually, his plan is to have live music one evening a week.
Smith, a Eustis resident, is a native of Dayton, Ohio, and has been in the restaurant business for over 28 years. He most recently worked for a restaurant food distributor.
The restaurant is located at 622 N. Donnelly St. and will be open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Friday and Saturday the restaurant will be open until 10 p.m. and it will be closed on Sunday. Beer and wine will be available.
Finding the perfect home takes time. Eleven years ago, Michelle Kristof opened Living Green, a Tavares business dedicated to her passion for healthy foods.
Fast forward to the present and the business has transformed into Living Green Cafe and relocated to Triangle Center in Eustis. With fresh organic ingredients in its sandwiches, wraps, salads, entrees and smoothies, the small cafe boasts some of the freshest and healthiest offerings in the area.
Although not purely vegetarian, Living Green Cafe specializes in plant-based dishes and offers many gluten-free and raw options. For example, Kristof makes creative use of cashews and walnuts for delicious variations on sauces, cheeses and fillings.
Our favorites are the Asian chicken lettuce wraps and the vegetarian lasagna, but according to Kristof, the tostadas, tacos and kale chips are also big hits with customers.
Not to be overlooked are Living Green's homemade desserts and smoothies. The treats are absent of cane sugar and other processed sweeteners which can make diners dubious at first. However, the results are surprisingly delicious. Kristof masterfully substitutes dates, coconut nectar and maple syrup for sugar. The peanut butter cup cookie is infinitely more delicious than its Reese’s namesake.
An Ohio native, Kristof has lived in Astatula for the last 20 years. Creating healthy food has been her passion since her children were born. Now a grandmother, Kristof has found the time to master her flavorful raw food recipes. Devotees of raw food nutrition believe that leaving processed food behind and eating mostly unprocessed, organic, plant-based foods has many health benefits, including weight loss and reduced inflammation.
"I feel good about what I'm doing, said Kristof. “It is my passion and my purpose in life."
Living Green Cafe features a handful of tables for diners and does significant takeout business. Customers can call in their orders at (352) 602-4956. The restaurant also offers beer and wine and can cater small gatherings. Located at one of the major crossroads in north Lake County, U.S. 441 and C.R. 19A, the cafe's new home in Triangle Center is well situated to satisfy health-conscious diners from Eustis, Mount Dora and Tavares.
The cafe is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning in November, the cafe will expand its hours to include Saturdays. Living Green is located at 353 Plaza Drive in Eustis
Once you step inside, there is no doubt you've walked into a British pub. Magical Meat Boutique, a downtown Mount Dora favorite, has built a loyal following of local residents and Central Florida's British community in just two short years.
The small pub has excellent draft brews poured through extra-cold taps imported from England and also boasts traditional British fare.
In addition to generous British breakfasts, there is also shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, and fish and chips, plus a generous hand-carved turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and stuffing served throughout the year. For those who find bold flavors more exciting, Magical Meat Boutique also serves flavorful ethnic favorites common in England. The meaty and perfectly crisp duck wings, arguably the best in the area, are served on a bed of prawn crackers with an Asian drizzle. On the lighter side the restaurant offers a fresh pear and gorgonzola salad.
Magicial Meat Boutique is a labor of love for its personable owner, Phil Barnard. Born in North London, Barnard spent much of his boyhood helping his father make sausages and burgers in the family's butcher shop. The Barnards' history as butchers dates back to the 1500's, and old photos hang in the pub as a nostalgic reminder.
In 1963, Barnard's father painted his Camden Town butcher shop in psychedelic colors, renamed it "Magical Meat Boutique," and blared Rolling Stones and Beatles music from the store. A friend later borrowed the butcher shop's name and logo to use for the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" in 1967.
Barnard discovered Mount Dora fifteen years ago during a Florida vacation with his parents. His mother loved the city and dreamed of a family vacation home in Mount Dora. After she died, Barnard used his inheritance to purchase the Mount Do ra home his mom longed for thirteen years earlier.
After moving to the city three years ago, Barnard discovered he missed the British pubs from his home and seized the opportunity to do something different. Magical Meat Boutique, named after his father's business, opened in July, 2014, on Third Avenue, downtown. The pub's executive chef, Edward Wilheim, was the chef at the popular Garden Gate Tea Room, which closed a couple of years ago. Wilheim prepares some of the favorite dishes of the former restaurant as specials, including the infamous Rosemary Chicken Pot Pie.
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Although the area is crowded with restaurants, Barnard said the business has exceeded his expectations with loyal customers who return multiple times a week to dine and again to enjoy live music and karaoke on weekends.
"We all work together on the goal of giving visitors and locals an experience they want to return to," said Barnard, referring to cooperation among downtown restaurants. "But the whole town, in general, is the most friendly place I've ever visited."
The decision to move to the U.S. paid off in more ways than one. He met his wife Kate in Mount Dora and married three years ago, and they quickly became active members of the community. The couple now work together managing the pub and have been rewarded by positive feedback..
Barnard's interesting background is worthy of many pub tales. After high school, he went to college and apprenticed as a carpenter. Prior to moving to Florida, Barnard was the Clerk of Works responsible for the repair and restoration of the Hatfield House and Palace, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth. It's the perfect thing to ask him about when you pull up a stool at the bar.
Shoppers have something to smile about this Saturday. 25 local businesses are showing their gratitude to their Facebook fans this Saturday downtown.
Businesses participating in the Facebook Appreciation Day include:
Julianne's Coastal Cottage, Checkered Moon, Emz on 5th , Wow Factory, Home and Garden Treasures, Malena & Magda's Boutique, Cupcake Delights, Walk in the Woods, Ashley's Flags, Noni,Barrrel of Books and Games, Whispering Winds, Le Petit Sweet,Modernism Museum Store, KayDee Kay, Cupcake Delights, Under the Cherry Blossoms, , Papilio,Desire Boutique, The Gatehouse, Love Home Harmony, Temptations, Segway, Piglet's Pantry, Breezeway Cafe, and The Secret Garden.
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A new twist on home decor has made its way to downtown. Melrose Home Marketplace will have its soft opening on October 7 in the former space of Mount Dora Coffee House in the Dora Drawdy alley. The store will offer a curated collection of unique and stylish home furnishings and decor. Far from typical, the eclectic mix of styles will range from Rustic Industrial to Cottage Chic to Coastal Casual.
Sanford residents, Steve and Laura Grala, started their business creating unique and unusual upcycled lighting products. The idea of repurposing something that might otherwise be discarded appealed to them.
The couple eventually expanded the idea into their furniture line. The store will also have lighting, candles, pillows and other home accessories.
The couple knew Mount Dora was the place for their business after a leisurely day trip downtown. The Gralas will open their doors Friday in time for Mount Dora Bicycle Festival at 342 Dora Drawdy Way. After the soft opening, Melrose Home Marketplace will have regular hours later in the month.
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What's old is new again. Antiques used to be a mainstay in downtown Mount Dora. Over the years, the number of antique stores diminished and other quaint shops moved in.
A new antique store, A. Adams Antique and Fine Art, is opening in October in one of the most recognizable buildings downtown. Owned by local resident Abigail Adams-Cheatham, the shop will primarily feature a large inventory of high-end French period antique furniture, plus a few Italian, Asian and mid-century pieces. Adams-Cheatham's passion for French antiques and art stems from her exposure to them while growing up.
The walls will feature the original work of contemporary artist Ivaldo Robles of Orlando. To assist buyers, the space will feature a special viewing room for his paintings, so those interested can take a closer look at the artwork.
Adams-Cheatham moved from Windermere to Mount Dora in 2009 after visiting the city frequently during festivals. After four years renting a space at Renningers Antique Center, she decided to re-open in a downtown building she always loved. The blue and yellow building was formerly the home to The Painter's Daughter boutique.
In addition to Adams-Cheatham, her son, Russ and Robles will be assisting customers at the store at 331 N Donnelly Street.