Two things are for sure. It's not your typical entrance feature and you don't see many penguins in Florida.
The eye-catching entrance to Mount Dora's newest neighborhood was installed yesterday. The center median of Dora Parc is now the permanent home to four penguins approximately four feet tall in bright colors. The large birds are made of recycled plastic and stand on cubes of masonry that seemingly represent blocks of ice.
According to the development's website, the penguins are an art installation by the Cracking Art Group, a collective of European artists that creates over-sized sculptural animals made from brightly colored plastic. Dora Parc's developer commissioned the artwork to bring the artistic essence of Mount Dora to the community.
Perched on a hillside, Dora Parc currently has two model homes under construction. The development sits on the southeastern border of Mount Dora on Clayton Street and will have 38 luxury homes with access to Lake Dora.
According to their website, each home in the 22-acre community will have a lake view and residents will have access to the canal via a private walking path located in the center of the neighborhood. Dora Parc will also feature a limited number of boat slips on the canal that provide quick access to Lake Dora.
The four models are named after famous artists and range from 2,574 to 3,365 square feet. The previously posted price range was from $429,000 to $526,000.
For more Mount Dora business and real estate news, click here. For local arts & entertainment news, click here.
What's pink, takes one year to complete and brings joy to life? A new food truck, that's what.
Whipping up fresh, decadent donuts in a myriad of flavors like French Toast, Frosted Crack, Bird's Nest, and its signature Blueberry Glazed is a new favorite local business, Joy Donuts. The retro-painted pink trailer, not an actual truck, has been attracting locals and selling out since its opening day on March 12.
Entrepreneurs, Jen and Shane Dempsey, started making donuts for friends and family and found themselves being asked for more. Eventually, the Mount Dora couple knew they were on to something. Joy Donuts opened almost a year after conceptualizing the trailer which took almost six months to complete. Their patience seems to have paid off with the business taking off much faster than expected.
"I've been baking all my life. Shane loves donuts so it was a natural fit," said Jen.
She develops the recipes and Shane handles 'quality control'. Yes, he's the taste-tester. Due to the short time they've been in business, there are many more flavors of Joy Donuts that have yet to be introduced to the public, according to Jen. Due to its fast popularity, the word 'Joy" may be an understatement.
Due to the Dempsey's hectic weekday schedules working in education and financial services, Joy Donuts is only open on Saturdays and Sundays at the corner of US 441 and Wolfbranch Road. This creates a slight problem for some fans of the treats, because although Joy Donuts has a flavor called Frosted Crack, the truth is they are all deliciously addictive.
In addition to the Wolfbranch location, Le Petit Sweet in downtown Mount Dora also sells a limited quantity of the freshly made delectables on weekends. Both locations feature different donut flavors and only the truck sells the Blueberry, French Toast and Frosted Crack among the 5-10 flavors it typically offers at any time.
According to Jen, the biggest surprise about opening their new venture has been the communitiy support, positive feedback and selling out every day.
The donuts are made fresh on the trailer. Prices start at $1.25 a donut and the specialty donuts are $1.50. A free cup of coffee comes with every dozen.
Typical of a food truck, Joy Donuts is on the move and doesn't keep regular hours. 'Joy Junkies' don't mind waiting in line and know to arrive at Wolfbranch early because they can be sold out before some folks roll out of bed.
Get more news and events for Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis here.
'The third time is the charm' as the saying goes. However, in this case the third time may be the third charm.
Cyndi & Eddie Goff selected Mount Dora to open their third 'Painting with a Twist franchise and hope to be open in May. The storefront, located on US 441, will provide customers with a studio environment, paint, a canvas and brushes for an evening with friends that results in a completed piece of art styled from one of the company's copyrighted pieces. The concept is more entertainment than art instruction and a staff member is always on hand to facilitate and ensure a good time.
The company started in 2007 in Louisiana and now boasts 273 franchise locations nationwide. To assure an easy and fun experience for the novice painter, Painting with a Twist uses its own artwork for guests to replicate. Customers are welcome to bring their own beverages, including wine or beer to help get their creative juices following.
The couple opened their first location in Ocala in 2014 after Cyndi had been employed by Painting with a Twist for three years. The Goffs, along with a partner, have since purchased another franchise in Gainesville. "The charm, the people, everything about Mt Dora is so inviting and delightful! We have even started looking at real estate here", said Cyndi.
Painting with a Twist joins Lake Eustis Museum of Art in providing fun "Paint & Sip" art experiences to the public. The company prides itself on combining fun and painting in a primarily adult venue with classes being for ages 18 and over.
To accommodate different age groups, there will also be Family Fun Saturdays and Teenage Tuesday sessions. As a local fundraising event, the studio will host 'Painting with a Purpose' to give back to the local community. In 2015, the Ocala location raised over $15,000 for community charities, according to Cyndi.
The US 441 location has easy accessibility and plentiful parking to accommodate the studio's capacity of 60-70 painters. The Goffs have already hired and trained their initial staff of six.
For more local news and events for Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here
Momentum is expected to pick up in the greatly anticipated Epic Theatres project approved by the Mount Dora City Council months ago.
Although the green light was given last December, the multiplex's permits have been delayed due to an existing public arts requirement in the city's code for projects exceeding $1 million. The Epic project is approximately $10 million and is currently required to fund a $100,000 public art project. Mount Dora City Council is expected to repeal the requirement due to its legality.
The Epic Theatres multiplex, to be built on the land between Target and Walmart, could begin construction by placing the funds in escrow. The length of time for the design and construction process is largely up to Epic.
The Planning & Zoning Commission voted last week to recommend eliminating the funding requirement from the public arts ordinance. Later this month, the issue moves to the city's Public Arts Commission, and lastly to the city council. With the likely repeal of the art requirement, the escrowed funds would be returned to Epic.
Stay up-to-date on the theaters and other local news for Mount Dora, Tavares and Eustis, here.
They've come a long way from their lives as architects in Camaguey, Cuba. Alberto & Grace Paneca fled to Florida in 1999 and settled into Lake County in 2002. Much like how they transformed their lives, the family turned a darkened, run-down space into a bright, thriving restaurant in downtown Mount Dora.
This month the couple, along with their daughter and son-in law, Juliet and Beni, and partner Antonio Reyes, are celebrating the seventh anniversary of their mega-popular restaurant, Copacabana Cuban Cafe.
As the area's first Cuban restaurant, the family was tasked with introducing the island's authentic cuisine to Mount Dorans. Distinctly different than Mexican food, Cuban cuisine flavorfully blends the spices and techniques of Spanish, African, China, the Caribbean and Native Taino cuisines.
"It was a pleasure to introduce Cuban cuisine to the town and see our customers' reactions, and then see them returning again and again," said Juliet.
Most of the family recipes came from Alberto's mother and uncles who were chefs in Cuba. Today diners enjoy their favorite traditional dishes including their Palomilla steak, Pernil (roasted pork), Cuban sandwiches, Masitas de Puerco (fried pork chucks), and seafood specialties like Paella and fried Red Snapper. Of course, a visit there wouldn't be complete without at least one perfectly muddled mojito.
"Having lived in Miami for years, this restaurant's food isas authentically Cuban as you can find anywhere. We go out of our way to come here", said customer Sheri Bustillo who travels regularly from out of town to eat at Copacabana.
The friendly, close-knit family chose Mount Dora because it reminded them of quaint towns in Cuba. Since opening in 2009, the family has become part of the fabric of the downtown community.
"We've enjoyed watching our customers' families grow up. They feel like a part of us," said Juliet.
Alberto is a warm and recognizable personality in Mount Dora. His genuine hospitality and passion for Cuban culture makes him Copacabana's beloved patriarch. The Paneca's credit their hardworking team, strong bond with their customers and the consistent high quality of their food as the secrets to their Mount Dora success.
In an effort to thank the community, Copacabana will host an anniversary celebration on March 25 & 26 featuring food and drink specials, including two-for-one mojitos, and live music by Bongos Band. There will also be a fun Cuban cooking demonstration for kids from 4-5 on Saturday.
Tucked next to Goblin Market restaurant at 320 Dora Drawdy Way, Copacabana Cuban Cafe is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
To stay up-to-date on local events for Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. For more news, click here.
Tandoori anyone? Mount Dora is abuzz about the new Indian restaurant, Shiva, opening downtown. Experienced restaurateurs, Davinder (D.K.) and Vhonda Kumar, along with their partner Devendra Patel, hope to open on April 4 after incurring some delays.
Shiva will diversify Mount Dora's dining options with the bold flavors of India and feature an extensive menu of traditional Indian dishes like Butter Chicken, Paneer Makhani, Tandoori, Chicken Korma and plenty of vegetarian options. An Indian meal would not be complete without the popular naan bread and Shiva will not disappoint.
Indian Cuisine varies by region, but the distinctive spices include cardamom, chilli pepper, tumeric, garlic, ginger, black mustard seed, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and the spice blend garam masala. The result is a bold and deeply flavorful ethnic fare that delights adventurous foodies. Due to the varying preferences of diners, dishes can be ordered mild, medium or hot.
Cooking since he was young in New Dehli, D.K. uses his own family's recipes for a variety of chicken, lamb, shrimp and vegetarian dishes. While he is stirring things up in the kitchen, Vonda, a Eustis High School alumni, will be tending to guests. The enterprising couple met while living in France, where they lived for 20 years and had three children before returning to Vonda's Lake County roots.
After closing their Lake Square Mall restaurant in 2011, the Kumars searched for the perfect downtown location for nearly two years, before selecting the cozy Fifth Avenue storefront which is expected to seat between 30-35 diners.
Shiva, named for one of the three major deities of Hinduism, will be open seven days a week at 11 am to serve lunch and dinner. The lunch buffet will feature 8 items for $9.99. Dinner will feature their expansive menu instead of the buffet. The restaurant, located at 140 W. 5th Avenue in downtown Mount Dora, will be open until 10:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9:30 pm on all other days. To stay up-to-date on the restaurant's opening, click here.
For more news for Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here.