Monday, October 19, 2009

USA 101 by Gary McKechnie

One of Mount Dora's very own has recently returned from a trip around the US where he spent months cataloguing places, events and festivals around the country. Congrats to Gary McKechnie, co-owner of the Coconut Cottage Inn Bed & Breakfast in Mount Dora.

Gary's book, USA 101: A guide to America's Iconic Places, Events and Festivals, is newly published by National Geographic and available for $18.95. You can meet and listen to Gary talking about his experiences around the country tomorrow night (Tuesday, Oct. 20th) at 7pm in the W.T. Bland Public Library at 1995 N. Donnelly St. in Mount Dora. For more info. please call the library at 352-735-7180.

Christine Cole wrote a nice article in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday about Gary that you can read online at the Sentinel website.

Congratulations Gary and we will see you at the library tomorrow night!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweepstakes Winners & their Mount Dora experience.

I had the opportunity the other day to interview the winners of the Mount Dora Play, Shop, Dine & Stay Summer Sweepstakes via email and wanted to share their comments and experience with everyone. The getaway sweepstakes is a promotion sponsored by the Mount Dora Village Merchant's & Business Association, Inc. in conjuction with in an effort to create awareness of our fabulous town as a destination.

Frank & Arlene Miracola from Northport, FL were the July sweepstakes winners chosen randomly from nearly 2000 email entries at that time, there are almost twice that many entries as of today. Frank & Arlene won a lodging, dining, shopping & activity spree in Mount Dora worth $600. I will share her comments as she provided them.

A big thanks to all of the participating merchants who have made this program a big success for Mount Dora. Some of you are well thought of as you will see from Arlene's comments. Congrats on receiving such a glowing report.

Dear Brian,

We are more then happy to reply about our wonderful "weekend" in Mt. Dora as the Getaway winners. We got to Mt Dora on Saturday and were greeted by our gracious and very accommodating hosts John and Arthur proprietors of the beautifully appointed Adora Inn. To say it was a serene and calming home is an understatement.

We left our bags and proceeded to Pure Aveda. The staff immediately had us defrazzled with their attention to our needs. We each had 1 hour massages( h e a v e n) What a way to start our weekend. We definitely will be booking another round when we return in December.

We wandered around our fave shops for a while and went down to Goblin Market to inquire about their menu and late dinner reservations. The hostess Diane was just so happy to hear we were the weekend winners and made our dinner plans for us. The dinner was above and beyond what we expected and we now have a new cocktail suggested by Diane " Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini" yum yum yum!!!

We then strolled over to the Frog and Monkey to listen to a great band and had a couple of Blue Moon drafts. The evening ended with a walk in the full moonlight back to Adora. We had the Tree House room with roman bath. We both slept like very sated, pampered and spoiled babies. Breakfast was superbly prepared the next morning by our hosts who made us feel like family. John and Arthur are truly genuine and unpretentious.

Sunday was shopping day and I think we hit every place in town. Wine from Maggies Attic, Coffee, candles and caviar from Dianes Tasteful Indulgences, Jewelry and candles from Emz on 5th. Lots of trinkets and gifts from Whispering Winds. We revisited One Flight Up and the best Cuban we ever ate at Chew Chew express. Every one of these aforementioned places were just so nice and happy to hear we were the weekend winners.

Of course we always visit Timeless Keepsakes and the owner there is a very nice woman and didn't have a problem when we asked if she participated in Dora dollars. We can't say enough about what a glorious time we had. We sincerely thank everyone for all the attention and good will we felt.

We love Mt Dora and can't wait to return to our favorite escape. We would like to make one suggestion, It would be really helpful if the winners were given a list of merchants who accept Dora Dollars with the packet. A few times it was embarrassing for us as some shop keepers didn't know or had to ask someone and it was a bit tense in a few situations. Otherwise IT WAS A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!!!

Thank you again,
Arlene + Frank Miracola
North Port Florida

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One of Mount Dora's own on national television.

A little congratulations are in order for one of Mount Dora's own! Co-owner of the Tremain Street Cottages and Travel Channel videographer Rachelle Lucas has made her way to "Daytime" TV. You can see the segment here of Rachelle making sweet potato muffins on the syndicated TV program "Daytime" starring hosts David Nemeth and Cyndi Edwards. Rachelle has been invited back to share more recipes in the future.

Rachelle maintains a popular food & travel blog entitled "Inn The Kitchen" where she catalogues fabulous recipes from innkeepers around the country. Stay tuned as we travel the United States bringing you the best each innkeeper has to offer. Yes, Rachelle does drag me along on her journeys, do you think she carries her own camera equipment? lol...


A Taste of Chicago in Mount Dora.

John Kennedy came to Mount Dora last winter with his wife Susan for a little visit and as so often happens they fell in love with our little town, bought a house, moved here and opened up two businesses. In fact, they took an empty eyesore of a corner on 3rd Ave & Donnelly St and revitalized it completely bringing color and life to a particularly uninspiring section of town!

John took his passion for food and business and turned it into "A Taste of Chicago" where you can experience the world famous "Chicago Dog" right here in Mount Dora. John tells me that every ounce of ingredients in his hot dogs comes from Chicago right down to the potato chips. 100% Vienna Beef will be found in these authentic Chicago Dogs.

John says the locals are very excited about the location and are very supportive. I can certainly say that in these particular economic times John has a price point that is attractive to almost anyone wanting to eat out on occasion. So much so that last Saturday John ran completely out of his newly popular Italian beef.

A Taste of Chicago will be open during season from 11am til later in the evening depending on traffic. With the fabulous weather around the corner guests can enjoy the outdoor seating area on the sidewalk or in the courtyard.

Downtown Mount Dora merchant's can enjoy an extra treat when they visit, 15% off all orders all of the time. If you are a City employee you will get 25% off!

Here is a sampling of what's on the menu:

Chicago Spicy Dog $3.59
American Cheese Dog $3.09
Swiss Cheese Dog $3.09
Baked Bean & Onion Dog $3.29

And on and on it goes....

Visit A Taste of Chicago on the corner of 3rd Ave and Donnelly St for your authentic Chicago Dog experience right here in Mount Dora.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween Ghost Walk Tours!

Mount Dora Ghost Walk sponsored by Mount Dora Historical Society

Dates: Oct 16th & 17th, 28th, 29th 30th 31st

7:30pm, 8:00pm, 8:30pm & 9:30pm

Price: $13.00 Under 12 is $10.00 advanced reservations required

Location: Tours originate at the Mount Dora History Museum 450

Royellou Lane and beginn with Borgias puppet show

Description: Lantern led tour of the shadowy alleys and streets of Old Mount Dora. History combined with legend and ghosts. Stories about the Old Train Depot, The Lakeside Inn, Goblin Market, Drawdy Lane, Historic Mount Dora Inn and the Haunted Jail Cell are just a few stops on your 1 hour, ½ mile journey begins with a 15 minute interior performance prior to tour. Call (352) 406-5672. or Email us at

Reservations required and confirmed based on availability and in order received visit for more information

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Guest Blog by Janet Craig, owner of Mt. Dora Sushi & Steak

In addition to owning Mt. Dora Sushi & Steak Janet Craig is a board member of the Mount Dora Village Merchant's & Business Association, Inc. and serves as the association's marketing chairperson. Janet also maintains a blog on the Mt. Dora Sushi & Steak website and a super successful Twitter site with over 16,000 followers and counting!

It all started with a KISS at Mt Dora Sushi

“If you only do what you know you can do, you'll never do very much.”
- Krause

It all started with this blog back in Mar 09 about how I reluctantly became an "actress" in a FOX TV commercial to promote our great little town- Mount Dora, Florida.
At the time I was on the ad committee of the MDVMBA (Mt Dora merch assn) but didn't want to be in the commercial. Mt Dora Sushi was only 1yr old and required my full time attention and besides, I'm not into the fame. It was here on the "set" I met Brian Young. I knew Brian and his girlfriend Rachelle owned the popular Tremain St Cottages and Brian created and runs but we were not in the same social circles.
We immediately connected as he chatted up the importance of blogging, marketing and social media. These days I look forward to date night when Brian and Rachelle meet me and Eric at one of our other great little downtown
Mount Dora restaurants

Brian and Rachelle have inspired us at Mt Dora Sushi to look outside of our marketing box and promote, promote, promote..and o
ur friendship is blossoming into a huge media bouquet thats smelling pretty darn sweet.

The blog about the commercial shoot was the very first posted by Mt Dora Sushi. Rachelle has a great blog about being an innkeeper. Brian also has a blog about whats going on in Mount Dora.

In the past few months Brian and I organized a fantastic event to promote downtown Mount Dora..the Highwayman Artwalk. I learned the importance of a press release, posters and how much promoting an event needs to be successful.
It generated huge sales for the merchants and a front page newspaper article mentioning our promotional efforts.
..Yay for Mount Dora! We all need the business right now in this snowbird economy driven town in the middle of July...and we actually had fun doing it.

After that we were urged to Twitter and today we have over 15,000 followers! Its actually a fun competition between Brian(@mountdora) Rachelle(@travelblggr) and Mt Dora Sushi (@mtdorasushi) least on my end. I love to have customers come in because they read Takashi and me tweeting facts or the days events. It's hugely satisfying.

I admit my blogging has suffered but am determined to get it all balanced...
From Twitter came an introduction to a Tampa food personality and author Jaden Hair(@steamykitchen) ...and here I am.
With sweating hands and high anxiety I am faced with an early morning drive to NBC in Tampa to shoot a cooking segment for television....all about making miso soup, lol. It will air on Sept 23 09. I found out its all scripted and I guess it isn't about the soup at all..I have 15 "free speak" seconds. That's 15 seconds to tell the world we are here.
Jaden has a great cookbook "Steamy Kitchen" and Rachelle is working on a recipe book featuring innkeepers...seriously thinking about creating a Mt Dora Sushi roll cookbook now...hmm..from little town sushi chef to being the #1 ranked sushi bar on Twitter , to TV, to author???
...........and it all started with a kiss.
See the Original Fox TV commercial w/Brian and Janet HERE

You can contact Brian to get promotional ideas OR you can find him in our beer garden or at the sushi bar most any night... and he always gets his wine for free.