Long ago, as northern tourists flocked to Mount Dora, the small historic town was dubbed the “New England of the South.” Now a new downtown restaurant is planning to add to that reputation with its award-winning New England seafood specialty.
Tony’s Chowder House is expected to open by Valentine’s Day in the small space on Donnelly Street vacated last year by Rocking Cafe. The free-standing building is up the short hill from the core of downtown Mount Dora’s bevy of shops and restaurants, The finishing touches are being added to the remodeled interior to recreate the nautical decor of an old New England chowder house, according to Bill Martin, one of the restaurant’s owners.
The approximate 12-table eatery is the sister restaurant to the award-winning Tony’s Seafood Restaurant on Cedar Key, owned by Martin’s cousin, chef Eric Jungklaus. That popular establishment has been dishing out casual seafood fare for almost 14 years and is a three-time winner of the Great Chowder Cook-off in Newport, Rhode Island. Jungklaus is also co-owner of the new Mount Dora restaurant and a local resident.
In the beginning Tony’s Chowder House will offer a limited menu that focuses on their white clam chowder recipe and other soups made from scratch, as well as sandwiches, salads, beer and wine. Later, the menu will expand to include other offerings like clam strips and fried oysters, and eventually the restaurant will add outdoor dining, according to Martin.
Martin is no newcomer to the business climate in downtown Mount Dora. He and his mother were the original owners of the Whispering Winds gift store on Donnelly Street.
Tony’s Chowder House is located at 622 North Donnelly Street.