Children Inspire and captivate her. A new local photographer, Fury Gray, finds their bold, fearless honesty refreshing and strives to capture their authentic selves.
Gray, originally from Columbia, Missouri, moved to Mount Dora with her family two years ago. With its established art colony and friendly local businesses, downtown has become her home away from home.
Now, the creative business duo of Gray and partner Nikki Cole, will be opening their own venture on 4th Avenue.
"I am excited to join a community that has such a focus on the arts," said Gray about what she is most looking forward to when opening her downtown studio.
"My goal is to create beautiful, evocative images. No matter how conceptual and stylized the shoot, how perfect or candid the pose, it is authenticity shining through that makes the images I think we're all looking for," said Gray.
Session fees start at $150 plus the collections start at $800. Clients can expect to spend an average of $950-$1800. Special and promotions will also be offered occasionally. The studio is booking sessions now, and expects to be open in early March at 120 E. 4th Avenue, upstairs.
Browse the Straw Market. Enjoy a libation in the bar overlooking the sandy beach. Dance to live music. A Caribbean vacation? No. Welcome to the new restaurant and bar, Beach Bums, that opened today in downtown Eustis.
Business partners and co-owners of Sand Bar in Tavares, Roger Kooser and Travis Senning, are the masterminds behind the Beach Bums concept.
"We wanted to create a place that was reminiscent of 1960s/70s beach experience. Think Beach Boys, boardwalks, beach parties," said Kooser.
The Beach Bums Bar, located at 12 Bay Street, is housed in what was originally an orange packing facility, then an auto repair shop, Turkleton's Tavern, and most recently, Rhythms. The 100 year-old cavernous building has old brick interior walls and a wood ceiling which add a sense of warmth to the space.
A few flat screen TVs are strategically placed throughout the bar, ready to broadcast the latest sporting event. Tables and conversational areas, with comfy sofas, give the bar a cozy feeling. Loading bays open directly onto the beach, giving customers front row seats to watch the action and listen to the live entertainment.
The owners named the beach "Kokomo," inspired by the Beach Boys song of the same name. The large rectangular courtyard has palm trees a sandy beach with a boat, fire pit and tables and chairs. An old boat and other props are place near a stage that will showcase live music on weekends.
Co-owner Senning, who is the executive chef commented, "We are offering some menu items featuring foods that were popular in the '60s and '70s, like fondue served in a variety of ways, and we will toast s'mores out by the fire pit."
"Rounding out the concept, there is the Sloop John B Cigar Lounge--another nod to a Beach Boys songs--and a Straw Market with stalls like you see when you get off the cruise ship in the Bahamas. Eventually, a package liquor store will be added," continued Kooser.
A Beach Boys tribute band is scheduled to play tonight. Tomorrow, Saturday, February 20, the Mount Dora Boomerz will hold a reunion concert and fundraiser to benefit K9S For Warriors beginning at 7pm with a $5 donation at the door.
Senning summed up the Beach Bums experience, "We have created a space that will make people feel like they have gone on vacation while they are still close to home."
Expect to see a whole lot more purple in the scenic areas ofMount Dora, Tavares and Eustis. The Fun Bus which had its soft launch in early November, will begin its much anticipated weekly tours this Thursday, February 11. The 90-minute tourfeatures comedic characters to entertain passengers as attention-getting bus rambles down the streets of the three cities. Read more.
It's not every day a celebrity comes to Mount Dora, let alone starts a business. Perhaps that's why there is so much anticipation for Chef Norman Van Aken's new restaurant to open downtown. More likely, it's because of his amazing vision, talent and passion for food.
"1921 by Norman Van Aken" is the James Beard Award-winning chef's new restaurant in Mount Dora. Allied with the Modernism Museum across the street from the restaurant, the menu will reflect modern Florida cuisine; a new look ingredients and culinary traditions that surround it.
"1921 by Norman Van Aken" in Mount Dora will open soon in a converted home that was built in downtown Mount Dora in 1921. The location is finishing major renovations and will be equipped with a state of the art kitchen and decor reflecting its partnership with The Modernism Museum. Modernist works by esteemed artists will be incorporated as living pieces that guests can see, and sometimes sit in, while dining.
The unique location in the heart of Florida will have strong influences from the diverse cuisines of Southern Florida, as well as Southern traditions from Northern Florida. Mount Dora is surrounded by numerous local farms and is equidistant from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, it will access some of the best produce, meat, and seafood Florida has to offer. 1921 will also feature an exciting bar program and extensive wine list to rival any in the state.
Norman Van Aken, a culinary trailblazer known for introducing "fusion" into the culinary arts, is also widely considered “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of American, Latin, Caribbean, Asian, and African flavors. He is currently the chef-owner of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.
To say Van Aken's bio is impressive, is an understatement. He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage". He was also honored as a semi-finalist for a James Beard Award “Best Chef in America, the culinary world's equivalent of an Oscar. In addition to the personal accolades, his restaurant, "Norman's" was also nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America”.
In addition to his aclaimed memoior, Van Aken has published five cookbooks with another title scheduled for 2016. He also had a radio show and has appeared on CNN, Anthony Bourdain and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
For updates on restaurant openings in Mount Dora, Tavares and Eustis, click here.
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Above: Chef Norman Van Aken. Below: Part of the renovations underway at new 4th Avenue location in downtown Mount Dora
Below images: Other portions of the 1921 building (pre-renovations)