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Freedom Boat Club Goes International by Heidi Reslow

   “Great family. Great friends. Great Community. Great Business,” says John Giglio, CEO of Freedom Boat Club, whose headquarters are right here on the Island of Venice. And he does not take it all for granted. “Every day I thank God for everything I have. I am so fortunate.”
    So what’s a boat club and why join one?  We have all heard that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys a boat, and the day he sells a boat. Introducing Freedom Boat Club (Freedom) - the number one private membership boat club in the USA.
    “People understand the costs and logistics associated with boat ownership.  Freedom Boat Club takes all of that pain away,” explains Giglio.

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   Here’s how it works. There is a one-time entry fee to join Freedom, plus monthly dues. Freedom members have unlimited access to the club fleet and can choose from flats boats and fishing boats, to deckboats, bowriders, pontoons, sailboats and in some markets, cruisers. Think about it. You get to choose from a variety of boats without having to own one. There are no maintenance, service or storage fees. And here’s the pièce de résistance. Freedom members who join on a year round basis reap the added benefit of reciprocal access, and this is one of the most valued features of a membership with Freedom Boat Club.
   “Our competitive advantage is reciprocity,” Giglio explains. “The small competitors cannot replicate what we have perfected. A Freedom member in Florida will have the same experience when they reserve a boat in Boston or San Diego. It should not be any different.”  
   So what is the secret recipe for a successful Freedom franchise? Equal parts interested boater franchisees, sustainable population in the right location, and ample marina space - then just add water. Key West, for example, is an active boating destination, but not a good fit for a future Freedom location due to the lack of a large residential population base. And while there are other boat clubs opening in Florida and nationwide, these are mainly small Mom & Pop shops and boat dealers who have a tough time competing against the successful Freedom business model.
   Since becoming sole president and CEO in 2012, Giglio has been full throttle forward. Freedom’s membership and franchise business skyrocketed during the recession and continues to grow. Today Freedom Boa Club boasts 16,000 boaters in 150 locations across 30 states, 3 in Canada, and growing. Since it was first launched 29 years ago, Freedom has set the standard with its unique blend of a super-high level of customer service combined with well-maintained and impeccably clean boats. And Giglio is not greedy; he is willing to share the formula, but can the competition execute the formula?
   As with every business, there are waves, hurdles and challenges, and Freedom is no different. Giglio describes it this way. “If I can’t add another slip, I can’t add another boat. If I can’t add another boat, I can’t add another member. Lack of marina space is the only thing that is slowing us down.”  To tackle this problem, Freedom has begun to acquire small and medium-sized marinas, from 10 slips in Casey Key to 110 slips in Naples, their largest marina yet. The sweet spot for Freedom are marinas with a 40-50 slip capacity that can easily be converted into a Freedom franchise.
   Giglio says, “People are still buying boat memberships and people are still buying franchises. Business has not slowed down and we are not done yet; there is a lot more to do. He adds, “The great thing about this business is that there are not a lot of people doing it, and the private boating club concept translates across virtually every country.”
   Prior to 2013, Freedom franchises extended as far west as Texas and the Great Lakes. In line with their 5-year plan, Giglio saw land ahoy in California first, followed by 2 locations in Vancouver and another on Canada’s east coast. Over the past 12 to 18 months, the company has been laying the groundwork for true international expansion.
   Bienvenue Beneteau and Jeanneau, the largest boat manufacturers dans tout le monde (in the whole world). These boat moguls supply the Freedom fleets with the majority of their inventory. Last year, Jeanneau approached Freedom to expand its proven franchise model into Europe to meet the increasing demand for boat club membership.
   Giglio lights up when he describes how it all came to fruition. “Jeanneau chased us and brought us to France because they have the vision and see the potential. The French boaters do not have the USA mindset of having to own their own boat. They are so far ahead of us in their culture of sharing, and we are so happy to be a part of the next evolution of this sharing philosophy.” Hence the Freedom-Jeanneau partnership was launched.FBC photo 3a
   Le mariage with Jeanneau will provide Freedom with everything the company needs to expand internationally. The European Freedom franchises are able to source their fleets in Europe and this plays well into the hand of Jeanneau due to the Europeans’ acquired taste for a high quality of watercraft.
   And if you ask overseas consumers what they like and want from the United States, the most often heard term is the “American lifestyle and fun”; in French terms, la joie de vivre. Thus, European Freedom members will be much more likely to plan their USA holidays around Freedom locations due to reciprocity factor. But even more so, France requires a rig-orous 30-day instructional course to receive a boating license, for a 6.5 meter or even a 40 meter boat; the process is the same. Thus, French Freedom members can seamlessly step on to a Freedom boat in any of the 50 states without any training prerequisite.
   The rendez-vous with the Jeanneau management team earlier year was off the charts on the beaufort scale for Giglio and his group. By summer 2018, the first 5 French Freedom Boat Clubs are scheduled to open on the west coast of France, followed by other locations in France and across Europe.
   Giglio is grateful to the Venice Community for its continued support and to Venice MainStreet for spreading the word about the people who live and work here. He says, “I don’t think a lot of people know the magnitude of our business. Our headquarters is right here in Venice, we have 250 employees, and we are now expanding internationally.” Giving back to the community is also very important to Giglio and his wife, Lisa, and they recently chaired the Black Tie Gala at the YMCA where Giglio serves on the board.
   Are you ready to catch the Freedom wave from Florida to New England, from Texas to California?  Is it time for you to become a Freedom Boat Club member or a franchisee? Call Freedom Boat Club today at 888-781-7363 or visit the website at www.Freedomboatclub.comFBC photo 1

Venice MainStreet Makes a Difference in our Community by Bob Cushing

     Why did you fall in love with Venice?  Was it the way the city “felt” when you walked around?  I know I did. I loved the quaint buildings, the wide streets with medians filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers.  The buildings were different than the strip malls where I came from.  Did you know many of the buildings were built in 1926?  Many of our buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the entire downtown Plan!  Yes, downtown Venice is on the National Register of Historic Places - one of only 3 cities with that recognition - along with Savannah, GA, and Washington D.C.

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    Ok, so the City is historic - and old (at least   by Florida standards).  But it is more than that - it has that magical feel of a town where you dreamed of living.  Did you know that the downtown we enjoy now was not always that way?  Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many of our downtown shops were vacant, and those still in business were tee shirt shops and tattoo parlors.  There were very few restaurants and clothing stores.  That was when a group of concerned folks started Venice MainStreet, an organization devoted to building up the economic vitality of downtown.  Now, over 30 years later, we have helped shape downtown Venice to what it is today.
Venice is:
 Vibrant – With its wide range of shops, restaurants, and businesses, all within walking distance of a beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Not many downtowns can offer that.
Beautiful- Parks abound within the historic district and around the city. John Nolen, the renowned city planner of his era, wanted a park within walking distance of all residents.  We have over 30 parks to enjoy.  
Walkable - The sidewalks are wide, walkers stroll in front of store fronts and meander in and shop.  The buildings are 3 stories tall, not like walking in the canyons of other towns.  The entire downtown district is 9 blocks.  In fact, our city with its distinguished heritage is becoming the city plan of the future, called New Urbanism.
Enjoy the:
Lifestyle - This city has a group of very engaged volunteers. We have a vested interest in its future and we help to get things done. We helped create the iconic Venice gateway arch, design the Children’s Intergenerational Fountain in Centennial Park, and we sponsor events and music.  We help make this city what it is - now and in the future - by remembering our past.VMS Poster 2018
However, we cannot do it alone.  We need volunteers, and you can become Community Partners of Venice MainStreet.  By joining, you will hear about our plans and upcoming events.  You can participate and become engaged in the community.  The annual cost is $35 for an individual member and $50 for a family membership.  
You can also support Venice MainStreet by purchasing the 30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival poster for only $20 or by designating a brick in a loved one’s honor to be placed around the Intergenerational Fountain for $100.  All proceeds benefit Venice MainStreet.
Please join now and help keep Venice the town you fell in love with.  I did…

Venice MainStreet contact information:
Tel #: (941) 484-6722

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The Historic Venice Train Depot: A Legacy by Maria Baskin

     Every Christmas after our house is all decorated, I place the family’s wooden train set under the tree. I purchased the set for my now thirty-six-year old son, Jonathan, when he was little. I have continued the tradition of placing it under the tree because even though he is grown, the childhood memories linger.                 

   Depot 1a Venice has its own history with trains going back to when our city was first established. You will find the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot, the only surviving passenger station in Sarasota County, has had and still has some interesting stories to tell. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, the Train Depot is located north of the Venice Avenue bridge in the Rollins W. Coakley Railroad Park. The sun-tanned yellow Depot building is connected to an arched covered passenger waiting area complete with wood benches. Sitting underneath the arches felt as though I was entering a Renaissance abbey. I recently learned from the Chair of the Depot Committee of the Venice Area Historical Society (VAHS), George Miller, that the architecture is Mediterranean Revival. It is a perfect place to relax or go on a tour and find out some fun facts about who was instrumental in bringing the Depot to Venice and how it has evolved over decades.

      In 2003, a groDepot 3up of trained docents from the VAHS began giving tours of the Depot building and the campus. Here are some of the questions about the Depot you may or may not know the answers to:
•    The Depot was not always at its current location. Who built the first Depot and where was it located?
•    In the late twenties Venice became a ghost town. Do you know why?
•    The Depot was built with two waiting rooms. Do you know why?
•    What do the Kentucky Military Institute, the U.S. Army and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have in common?
•    Who was Gunther Gebel-Williams? (Think tigers.)
•    The Depot closed in 1975, and the building fell into disrepair. Who purchased it in 1999 and brought it back to life?
•    The original Depot cost $47,500. Can you guess how much the renovation cost?          

     Plans to preserve the Depot’s circus train heritage are under way. A retired circus rail car has already been purchased from the Florida Railroad Museum. Once renovations are finished, the car will be divided into different sections which will display the lifestyles of circus performers. Exhibits in a central display area will showcase key aspects of Venice’s circus history. This rail car will only enhance the synergy among the Depot campus, Legacy Park, Legacy Trail and the Venetian Waterway.  

Take advantage of this treasure in our city with a tour tailored to your interest from as little as 15 minutes to as much as 45 minutes.

Year-round - Saturdays between 10am-1:00pm
November – April
Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 10am - 3:00pm

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Eat, Walk, Learn - A New Way to Explore Downtown Venice by Heidi Reslow

   We invite you, the reader, to embark on a Historical Culinary Walking Tour presented by Venice Culinary Tours.  Guests gather under the clock at the Venice MainStreet kiosk in Centennial Park, don their special name tag, and make introductions all around.  Once everyone is acquainted, a trained tour guide will take you on a leisurely three hour walking tour, complete with rest stops.  Full time residents, part time snowbirds, guests, and visitors from near and far will enjoy this one-of-a-kind tour.Key Culinary Photo 3

    Your guide will give you an in-depth history of Venice, including John Nolen’s plan to effectively balance his design between two transcendental ideals: civic and nature.  As guests stroll through the City on the Gulf, they will learn about Venice’s unique architecture, its folk lore and hear amusing stories about its host of characters!  The tour will lead the group to four restaurants and two foodie specialty shops.  Guests will receive all kinds of informative tidbits along the route with a few surprise stops.  What better way to spend an afternoon in the company of new friends and being filled up with great food and learning something new about Venice!  

    Our experienced tour guides are chosen for their knowledge of the area as well as their love of food and all things culinary.  They provide an entertaining and memorable event coupled with cuisine samplings to delight everyone’s palate.  What a great way for family and friends to spend quality time together.  Venice Culinary Tours is sure to exceed your expectations, whether you are a newcomer to Venice or a long-time resident.

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    Founder Susan Robinson and Venice Tour Manager Gabe Levinson started Key Culinary Tours in Sarasota and expanded their culinary offering to include Venice because of its rich history and tradition.  “Thousands of people stroll the unique shops and gourmet restaurants each day,” says Susan, “and Venice is one of the most charming downtowns in Florida, and arguably the world.”

    Robinson had a concierge business in Sarasota, and received numerous calls for historical tours of Sarasota.  To meet the needs of her customers and their inquiries, she decided to create her own tours.  First, she and her husband went to Miami and in the course of three hours, she learned about one select neighborhood and enjoyed fabulous Cuban food. Her business partner Gabe Levinson is an architect originally from New York whose second love is food. Attracted by the weather, beaches, and architect structures, Levinson moved to Venice five years ago, met Robinson, and together they created Key Culinary Tours.

    A recent Culinary Tour Guest myself, I can attest to Levinson’s love of Venice.  He shares his passion about John Nolen’s master design for Venice and brings to life the buildings of Venice like no one else can.  

    “One recent culinary guest,” Levinson relays, “has lived in Venice for over forty years.  As she listened intently about the Ringling Circus parading through the streets of Venice, she told me that it happened exactly as I described.  This was a walk down memory lane for her, and she could picture it just the way I imaginatively conveyed it on the tour.  For me, it was wonderful to have someone on the tour who actually went to the parade and experienced it in its heyday.”   

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   Tour guests continue to rave about their experience.  Livvy Faford had this to say. "The Venice Key Culinary Tour was an afternoon of interesting historical facts about our beautiful city of Venice.  It was fun to try several new restaurants that were part of the tour and we enjoyed the stops at several specialty shops" And friend Nancy Spokowski adds, "As relatively new residents, my husband and I enjoyed hearing various interesting pieces of historical information about Venice from our guide.”  

    The Venetian tour has been operating since December, and is a great way to try new local restaurants, meet the restauranteurs, and experience the cuisine.  The restaurant always showcases a signature dish on the tour.  An international tour is already established in Sarasota and the Robinson-Levinson team is looking to add an international tour to the Venice tour menu.  Other ideas are in the works as well, including a shark and artifact finding tour geared toward families with a guide to show folks the best place to find their treasures.

    For Robinson, she wants people to embrace Venice on both a culinary and historical level.  “We are thrilled to be here and strive to offer an authentic experience to the community.  Sarasota serves as a template for other types of tours, including a Happy Hour themed tour, and Venice equally lends itself for similar types of tours.  Gabe and I continue to fine tune our tour offerings, while maintaining the same quality and consistency.  And through our business partnership with Venice MainStreet, we are able to connect the community with restaurant and destination partners.”

    Tour participants will come away with their heads filled with history and their stomachs filled with delectable delights.  A double whammy at an affordable price of $65.00 per person.  Tours run Tuesdays through Fridays from 2pm to 5pm.  To reserve your space on a tour, please call 941-893-4664 or visit


TriMonsters: The Team Sport Any Kid Can Do by Heidi Reslow

Following their first steps, toddlers will soon take off to scampering through the house beginning their lifelong quest to explore every nook and cranny.  Next comes the tricycle to the bicycle stage, complete with scrapes and bruises.  And finally, living in the Sunshine State with water all around, every kid should be able to swim, from a safety standpoint.  And there you have it, the recipe for the TriMonsters Venice Youth Triathlon Team.TriMonsters 2

The TriMonsters’ mission is to educate, inspire and empower youth about the sport of triathlon.  Parents are encouraged to introduce their children to the fastest growing sport in the U.S.  Compared to traditional youth sports like soccer, football, baseball, and basketball, the triathlon offers an individual sport within a team atmosphere.  Kids can practice on their own, on their own time, in their own space. Unlike other team sports, a triathlon is made up of different disciplines, and requires efficiency in many skill sets.

Coach Deb Peters’ credentials are extensive.  She is a USAT Certified Level 1 and Youth & Junior Triathlon Coach.  Peters is a member of ACE - American Council on Exercise, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a Certified Health Coach.  She is also the Florida Regional Youth Coordinator for the USA Triathlon.TriMonsters 1

Focused on family fitness, Peters came up with the idea in 2014 to add youth triathlon in to her DP Fitness adult business.  She placed a little ad in the local paper, and seven kids signed up.  TriMonsters is now going in to their 5th season and were the 2016 Regional Champions.

Peters explains, “Participation in youth triathlons can start a lifelong passion for a multisport lifestyle and healthy living.  We welcome the opportunity for parents to let us teach their children important life skills through the sport of triathlon!”

She continues, “We focus on safety first and always. Although the kids do compete, our priority is on technique and skills.  The kids develop healthy habits, strengthen camaraderie relationships, put their best foot forward, and just plain have fun.”
The great thing about training for and competing in a Triathlon is that people can do this from the time they start as a kid until they are well into retirement age.  Tom Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all time, but how much longer will he appear on the professional field?

So what motivates the kids to come?  Coach Deb will meet a parent out and about in the community, and explain the concept of TriMonsters. The Triathlon is a relatively new sport for kids, and once adults understand what TriMonsters is all about and that it is for kids, the lightbulb goes off, they see the benefit, and enroll their kids. TriMonsters offers a one-time complimentary 1 ½ hour practice, and invites kids to give it a try.  When the newcomers see the other kids swimming, biking and running, they want to join in on the fun and become part of the team.TriMonsters 5

Then the transition occurs, and the kids encourage their parents to start training.  Deb says, “I see this all of the time.  Now more parents are getting involved so that they can experience the same things that their kids are doing.  Just like their kids, the parents learn critical thinking, discipline, goal setting, self-confidence, capacity to push themselves to the next level, and to work their hardest.”

TriMonsters caters to kids aged 5 to 15.  The Trimonsters triathlon season runs from March to September, and kids have the option to participate in four or five triathlons during the season.  Training takes place on the weekend, one day for just 1 ½ hours.  One prerequisite is that the kids have to know how to swim. Safety is a priority, and a lot of focus is on swimming because all of the confidence is built in the water.  Plus, the kids learn all about the tides, meaning of the flag colors, open water safety, and the ocean life.                                                                             

The triathlons are age specific distances.  The 5-10 year olds swim 100 yards, bike 3 miles, and run a half mile.  At age 11, the distance doubles, which presents a new challenge for those aging up.

All of the kids, regardless of their age, have to know what to do without any assistance.  Let me walk you through the event.  You arrive at the venue race in the morning.  You push your bike into transition, all alone, and find your spot.  You set up your bike, lay down your towel, put your shoes and socks there, grab your cap and goggles, and head to the water.  You swim your race distance, exit the water, remove your cap and goggles, and run towards transition, where your bike and shoes are.  As you enter transition you have to find your bike amongst rows of other bikes, sometimes, hundreds.  You find your bike, put your helmet on, grab your bike and push it out of transition, then get on, and off you go.  After completing your ride, you head back to transition, find your spot to re-rack your bike, and then head off running to the finish line. Now imagine, a five year old doing this!  Scary and tough for an adult.  Come out and see for yourself the determination, grit and character of these kids hard at work.  

Deb says, “The kids are so proud when they finish.  No one can take away their accomplishments and their feeling of pride.  Some moms tell me that the kids will not wash off their race number written on their arm for days for it is like a badge of honor.”

Are your kids ready to be part of the sport of Triathlon? Are they ready to learn the team motto: Be Safe! Have Fun! Be Awesome!  To sign up, please call TriMonsters Head Coach, Deb Peters at 813 731 8767.  A phone call is a must, as there are pre-intake questions.  We look forward to teaching you and your children about triathlon!

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The Venice Art Walk by Leah Sherman

The Venice Art Walk, birthed in Collectors’ Gallery and Framery inArt Walk Photo 3
downtown Venice, began a third successful season on January 5th
according to Leah Sherman, proprietor of Collectors’ Gallery & Framery.

Sherman attributes the success of the Venice Art Walk to the entire community that comes together for the event. Ten local galleries and artists participated this year including Clyde Butcher Venice Gallery, Island Abstracts, Karen Ann Hitt, Venice Art Center, Stillpoint Studio, Tangi & Jess, Grey Fox Gallery, Nautical Sand Sculptures, and Mary Erickson Fine Paintings.

Sherman attributes her own Gallery’s successful 2018 debut to the support provided by so many.  “The entrepreneurial axiom, ‘customers are golden and should be treated as such’, is true says Sherman but adds that the Gallery’s customers, friends and family are a special kind of “GOLD” due to their commitment and contributions to the Gallery.  

Family members and friends “catered” the first event, making and serving many tasty munchies and beverages for Gallery visitors to enjoy. Different regional artists are featured in Collectors’ Gallery each month and are frequently hosted while in Venice by Gallery patrons.  

Especially generous in welcoming visiting artists into their Venice homes during Art Walk have been Bea Holt and Larry and Tracy Ivey who will host Mai Yap for the upcoming February 1 Art Walk. “There are already collectors of Mai’s work in Venice and there is no doubt that her appearance this season will garner her many more”, according to Sherman.

The March 1 Art Walk will find the work of the Florida Highwaymen featured in Collectors’ Gallery.  “The art of generous local collectors will be on loan to the Gallery and displayed during the Art Walk,” says Sherman.

On April 5, the last Art Walk for the season Collectors’ Gallery will feature the work of local artist, Deb Wicks whose expressive, contemporary style is refreshing and a crowd pleaser!

The Venice Art Walk is held on the first Thursday of each month, January through April.

Below are featured two paintings by Yap.  (top) Meditations #40, Palette Knife oil on Canvas and (bottom) Cloudscape #36, Palette Knife oil on CanvasPhoto

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The Story Behind the Brush by Heidi Reslow

The walls of An Original Hitt, Fine Art and Atelier, literally paint the story of nationally acclaimed artist, Karen Ann Hitt.  Referred to KAH 2as her Miracle Studio, it is indeed a working studio.  Her door signage reads, If not in, gone painting.  If she and her husband are not taking the road less traveled around the states, then you can find her in the studio, donning her paint-splattered wardrobe: jeans with a matching long vest, working Cowboy boots, and Cowboy hat atop her long flowing radiant curls.

As a child she would do anything to stay home and take summer art classes in lieu of partaking in family vacations.  She only wanted to paint, and subsequently submit her artwork in to local shows in her native Columbus, Ohio.  Even today she delights in being a judge for the annual children’s art festivals in Venice, and gives a big thank you and shout out to Sister Maureen of Still Point Studio.  

She arrived in Florida in 1975 where her family settled on the other coast, and she attended high school in Ft Lauderdale.  While she took classes at the Vo Tech, she asked the teacher where she should go to college.  The teacher gave her only one response, Parsons School of Design in New York, and that was it.  She applied, was accepted and would later major in illustration.

In the mid-90’s, she moved to Venice, became a single mom, and raised her three children here.  In 2015 she married her soulmate and together they spend many months of the year traversing the USA in their dream home-away-from-home on wheels.  She paints and he hikes.

Her photos are captured on a nearby laptop for easy display and reference.  Blank canvases and canvases in various stages hang from a wall-sized easel where she stands, brushes in hand, and lets her vision come to life.  She explains, “A photograph cannot read everything that the human eye can read.  But a painting shows more of the At that moment… experience”.

     The open air ‘Plein Air’ work (painting on location outside) is an essential resource for many Studio Works.  Oils are her preferred medium of choice, and she does paint with acrylics and watercolors too.  From a still life to a landscape, from a single palm tree to a beach scene, or a town view, each work tells a story.


KAH 1   One of my personal favorites is Artist Studio Life with Lemon and Blues Choices. Created in 2014, this oil on linen was featured in ine Art Connoisseur.  The artist incorporated three of her other paintings into background of this painting, along with a still life of a glass jar of honey, lemons, and berries.  Her inspiration came from lemon-like and bluesy news which she transformed in to a work of art.  The jar of honey was provided by local bee keeper, Ron Goulet.  He even gave her a dead bee that had stung him that day. The heart-shaped rock depicted in the lower right-hand corner was found as she stepped out of her vehicle to paint along the Merced River on the way to Yosemite National Park.


   Karen Ann has long been known for her portraits of children and still paints them today.  Mary Lou Dunn-Rankin, says, "One of our most treasured possessions is the portrait Karen painted of our children when they were small.  She painted the portrait from a candid photo she took of them reading together, and it really captures their personalities. 

 As the artist explains, “When you paint kids, it is from photos, therefore you spend time in the studio by yourself painting.  While I enjoy doing portraits, I told myself that I need to get out more, and so I do just that.” 

Founder of Venice Plein Air Group, she thrives on being outside, taking in the scenery, and making it come to life on the canvas.  As this article was being penned, Karen Ann was working on A New Day Dawning, the view of a sunrise on the Intracoastal Waterway in Venice.  Presently, Karen Ann is compiling her studio paintings for Women’s Impressions group exhibit opening on January 17, 2018 at Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, FL. The Opening Reception is scheduled for January 17 at 5pm.  

 She shares, “One of the things I learned while studying at college in NYC, is the importance of supporting your neighborhood.  Because I quickly learned that if I want things to stay nice and appreciate what I love about my neighborhood, then I have to support my neighborhood and the local merchants, or they won’t be there in the future.”  An active participant in Venice’s local art walks, Karen Ann buys the wine she serves from Venice Wine & Coffee, and passes out their business cards because she wants them to succeed and to always be there to supply the wine for her events.  And if you want to support your local artists, come on down to An Original Hitt…and support the neighborhood.

      The hours of An Original Hitt – Fine Art & Atelier, are not set, and appointments are always welcome.  It is worth a visit if nothing more than to find the actual bumblebee that is still on hand as a model in her gallery located at 230 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Venice. Tel # (941) 586-0287

The Gift of Time, for Yourself by Heidi Reslow

   All the money in the world cannot buy one more day on this great Earth of ours. And only You can take care of You. So now is the time for you to pay attention to your body from head to toe. Now is the time to discover your unique body type and how you were created to be. Now is the time to gain a sense of well-being and feel true inner peace. Now is the time to develop a deep connection within yourself.  Now is the time to learn how to balance the pace of your life with a new way of living and being.  Isn’t it time to treat your health as an investment, and not as an expense?

    Annette Broy, Owner of Dragonfly Ayurveda and Yoga, has designed the Dragonfly 60 Day Transform Your Life Program. Annette is a Registered Nurse, Certified Case Manager, Yoga Alliance 500 hr Yoga Instructor, International Certified Yoga Therapist, and National Ayurvedic Medical Association Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.Dragonfly Photo a

    Annette describes the program as, “A complete lifestyle and wellness makeover that treats the body as a tripartite being, made up of the body, mind and spirit. The program incorporates the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and yogic principles combined with modern knowledge for a radical life transformation.”

    A primary component of this health-focused program (not weight- focused) will be to discover your specific make-up. Noodle on that for a minute. You will learn how to honor your unique body type, and you will receive a customized program to meet your specific needs.  The ultimate goal is to feel more balanced - physically, mentally and spiritually.
This will be accomplished through the Ancient Wisdom (Ayurvedic) Principles to sync the body in line with the earth’s natural rhythms.

    Questionnaires will be used to determine your original makeup, and to bring you back to balance to your true nature. One set of questions is focused on pre-puberty, and your likes / dislikes to hone in on your personality type. The second set of questions pertains to how you are today, your body type, build, and any chronic illnesses you may be experiencing. Character exercises will be given to see how you responded to situations as a child versus how you respond now as an adult.
    Maybe it’s time for you to incorporate famed motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar’s motto, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”, and embark on the Dragonfly Transformation Program.  Annette explains, “It is a truly doable, life changing experience. Attendees will develop a deep sense of inner awareness to make better life choices. I want everyone to come away with a common sense approach to live authentically and lead an optimal life. This program is for people who are committed to making a radical transformation of their health. Anyone can do this, including vegans, vegetarians, meat-eaters, and even those with diabetes.”

    Which category do you fall in to: Eat to Live or Live to Eat? Do your sweet tooth taste buds trump your willpower for healthy snacks?  It’s a given – we all have to feed our bodies.  But we also have to nourish our mind and spirit. Take the time to dedicate 60 days to yourself and learn how to customize food, physical activity, and daily living according to your unique makeup.  

    In this program, you will learn how to revamp your nutritional intake to make choices for the foods that are right for your body. You will explore spirituality to lead a balanced and more fulfilling life, regardless of your spiritual beliefs. And you will receive unlimited access to all yoga classes at Dragonfly for the entire 60-day program. The ultimate goal is for you to gain empowerment over your life.Dragonfly Photo b

    The 60-day program kicks off on Saturday January 13, 2017 from 9:00am to 2:00pm, and continues for 8 consecutive Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, beginning January 16 through March 13. Lunch will be served at the kickoff meeting and dinner will be served on all Tuesday evening meetings. All meetings will take place at the Dragonfly Studio located at 439 Tamiami Trail South, #202.

    Participants will receive the following:
•    Products, supplements, herbs and super greens to get you started on your new life
•    3-day supply of Kitchari cleanse supplies (rice, beans and herbs)
•    Daily routine products: Neti pot, Nasal oil, Tongue scraper, Body Brush, Personal body oil (ahbyanga oil)
•    Transform Your Life book, Dragonfly Journal, personalized Food Guide with recipes
•    Weekly Tuesday evening meetings, including a meal, cooking demonstrations, and educational talks on how to incorporate healthy habits in to your daily wellness routine
•    Daily Access to online private Facebook Support Group to ensure success and find inspiration throughout your journey
•    Unlimited access to all yoga classes at Dragonfly during 60 days

Are you ready to give yourself the Gift of Time?
To register, go to or call the studio at (941) 222-0777

Hammocks, Chairs, and a Beach Load of Fun-itures! by Heidi Reslow

     When Mark and Laura arrived in Venice, their mouths dropped at the sight of the palm trees lining the avenues of the City on the Gulf.  As they took in the sights and sounds of the area, they realized no one was selling hammocks, and the light bulb went off.  Mark explains excitedly, “We looked at each other and said let’s sell hammocks in paradise.”  Since that vision, his goal has been to sell a hammock a day, and he has pretty much met that goal since opening Island Life Hammock Co. three years ago.

     Island Life Hammock Photo 6
     This boutique store offers hammocks from all over the world.  One being Pawley’s Island hammock which was created over 125 years ago.  Pawley’s set the standard for the original American hammock.  In fact they are so well made, the duracord part of the hammock is animal-resistant; squirrels and their furry cousins do not like the taste.  Plus Mark tells of one American-made hammock that was hung on a Banyan tree on the Island.  Unfortunately, Irma toppled the tree, but the hammock did not sustain any damage from the 110 mph winds and was able to be re-hung.

     Another type are the Brazilian Hammocks which are named after famous beaches such as Jericoacoara, Maharaja, and Impanema.  “In fact,” Mark exclaims, “I sold one to a lady who came to the shop, and she was actually from Impanema. But I am just waiting,” he continues, “to sell one to Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin.  The day he comes in to buy one, I can say: mission accomplished.”

     The couple just recently updated their website, and they do a fair amount of business just from the website.  But foot traffic is always the best for as Mark says, “The magic happens in the shop, and we truly have the nicest customers, whether they are the locals who support our business or the seasonal visitors.  We just enjoy helping our customers furnish their little slice of paradise, whether it be here in Venice or elsewhere.”
     Of course we all remember our Dads resting in the typical green canvas hammock on a metal stand after mowing the grass.  Mark wants today’s generation to experience and treasure those same memories of yesteryear.  “Every yard looks great from the hammock’s view.” However, hammocks have come a long way over the years and they aren’t just for outside anymore. Today there are even more styles and varieties to choose from.  Island Life carries hanging chairs and swings that look great in your living room, den, or even the kids’ bedrooms!  Mark will even make local deliveries and assist with proper installation.  And like a bicycle, once you master getting in and out of a hammock, it stays with you forever.

     While Mark’s passion are the hammocks, wife Laura wants our readers to know that their shop offers everything for the home with a beach house flair, all made by local artisans.ILH 4

   ILH 2 She says, “Our shop is more than just a hammock store.  We offer pillows, wall art, jewelry, home decor, and even funky, colorful birdhouses.ILH 3 The old recycled metal art and lit beach signs are very popular.  A top seller are the Real Deal hats and backpacks made from the canvas of trucks and come via way of Brazil. Customers love the old original patches on these tarp hats and bags.”

One visitor stopped to admire the brightly colored Adirondack chairs displayed in front of the store.  After a quick peak inside, she beaconed her husband to come in and check out the variety of wall art.
     The Adirondack Chairs are the perfect gift for Mom or Dad. They have a lifetime warranty and will not split, rot or mildew.  They are UV-protected, and come in an assortment of vibrant colors, including orange, blue, green and teal.  Following a bit of light assembly, your chair is ready for a lifetime of enjoyment. 

So the next time you are meandering the avenues, be sure to stop in and be greeted with a smile by Mark and Laura at Island Life Hammock Co. located in the 300 block on West Venice Avenue.

Venice MainStreet: An Influential Voice for the City on the Gulf by Heidi Reslow

    We have all heard the famous line by Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail…”Don't you think that daisies are the friendliest flowers?"  For all of the people connected to Venice MainSteet - Board of Directors, Business and Community Partners, Downtowners, a slew of volunteers, and the staff – we like to think that Venice MainStreet promotes the friendliest kind of fun on the island.

    The City on the Gulf can’t speak for itself, but the people can.  Throughout its 30-year history, Venice MainStreet (VMS) has set its sight on bringing people to beautiful Historic Downtown Venice to have fun.  From the moment travelers land at Sarasota Airport, they are welcomed with an 85-foot long mural promoting Venice.  

    A robust weekly e-newsletter informs over 10,000 residents and out-of-towners about what’s happening in Venice.  Visitors are greeted with smiles by the all-volunteer Downtowners who operate the Centennial Park Information Kiosk and stroll the avenues.  These cheerful folks act as goodwill ambassadors answering questions, offering directions, and providing tidbits of Venice history and trivia.

    People come from all over to attend the Blues, Seafood, and Arts & Crafts Festivals.  A wide range of musicians entertain residents and visitors with free Friday night concerts held in the Gazebo. Kids of all ages love to partake in the annual Easter Eggstravaganza and Halloween Parade.  Passersby grin from ear to ear as they watch the children squeal with delight as they splash through the Intergenerational Fountain located in Centennial Park.

    Rod Nafziger, incoming President of VMS and The Gelato Maestro at Ciao Gelato, describes Venice MainStreet as the Social Heart of our Community. He says, “Our beauty, culture, shopping, dining and art have created an experience that enlivens the soul.”

VMS An Influential Voice Photo

    The Business Partners and Community Partners who join Venice MainStreet are proud to be a part of a fun organization that promotes, preserves and protects Downtown Historic Venice.  These Friends of VMS are committed to being an integral part of the VMS Family through their annual partnership, contributions, sponsorships, and volunteer efforts.  They find the fun in helping to fund the variety of events organized by Venice MainStreet with their financial support and their hands-on involvement.

    The relationship VMS has with its business partners is reciprocal: VMS brings the people to Venice and the shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and service organizations keep them coming back.  Randy and Lori Kendrick, Owners of Venice Print Center, have been long-time Friends of Venice MainStreet.  When asked about Venice, Randy jumps right in and says, “I grew up in Venice, and for me, this is the best place to live.  Venice has it all: friendly people, community-minded business owners, and an abundance of nature.  We get out and about, and enjoy taking our children and small granddaughters to the beautiful beaches and pristine parks.  Plus, we do our part to help VMS promote a well-rounded schedule of events.  Bringing people together to have fun and enjoy all that Venice has to offer is what matters most.”

    Likewise, the Community Partners who join VMS play a big role in the continuing success of this 501c3 non-profit organization.  They spread the word about all the good things VMS does for the City on the Gulf.  They become engaged and volunteer at the festivals and special events.  Through connecting with other community partners, they expand their friendship circle.
    Being an Influential Voice for the City on the Gulf is a tall order, and Venice MainStreet embraces its responsibility and continues to rise to the challenge.  VMS collaborates with city and county officials, business leaders, and the community as a whole to balance the expanse of business and tourism while maintaining the integrity and feel of John Nolen’s plan for Venice.  The organization has received numerous awards for its best management practices for design, promotion, and economic development enhancing the awareness of this special place we all refer to as
The City on the Gulf.  

    VMS is united with over 2,000 Main Street Organizations across the country, and supports the association’s nationwide mission of historic preservation, community vitality, beautification and economic vitality.  We invite you, The Reader, to become a Friend of Venice MainStreet and join us in our passion and vision to Keep the Magic Alive.  Won’t you do your part to become a Community or Business Partner with Venice MainStreet?  Call us at the VMS Office: 941-484-6722.  You can also visit us at


The Sweat-Hogs or Team KVB by Maria Baskin

The Sweat-Hogs or Team KVB
by Maria Baskin

     Team Keep Venice Beautiful (KVB) is an offshoot of Venice Area Beautification, Inc. (VABI).  Team KVB is a diversified group of 33 men and women of all ages who come from different professional backgrounds.  KVB’s goal is not to organize ribbon cuttings or hold charity balls or line the streets with pretty flowers, although there is nothing wrong with any of these activities.  Their goal is to literally “make a difference on the ground,” says Corky Dalton, Leader of Team KVB.

KVB’s mission is to:

* Remove invasive species (only goal when Team KVB first formed 12 years ago known as     Brazilian Pepper Patrol)
* Clean and remove leaves and branches from around bushes and trees
* Remove “human” trash around plant beds

    Doesn’t sound like glitz and glamour, does it?  Well, ask Tim Leach, a Venice resident, who noticed “the overgrown and ugly appearance at the back of the Venice High School fence line.” Team KVB is responsible for cleaning up truck loads of invasive bushes and carting them away from the Venice High School fence.  People notice when green spaces are neglected and they also notice when the vegetation cared for and thriving.

    KVB requires its volunteers to get their hands dirty and break a sweat. That’s how they became known as the Sweat-hogs.Team KVB Photo for News

    Why should you consider volunteering?  Here are some of the reasons the members of Team KVB joined the team:

    “When I finish our Thursday work, I can see the difference my fellow-KVBers and         I have made, and I can feel it in my muscles.”
    “When I work with this group and share some sweat, a little dirt, and a pinch of         humor, it strengthens my sense of belonging in Venice.”

    “As I go about my work, I appreciate the immediate Thank you’s received from             passersby.  It reinforces my reason for being part of KVB.”

    Partnering with the Department of Public Works and Sarasota County this little-big army of helpers from Team KVB care for the following green areas along with many others:
Venice downtown, Heritage Park, Centennial Park, Fountains, Festival grounds at the airport, Venice Museum, and the Arboretum  

    Next time you are driving around Venice, look for the yellow T-Shirts with Team KVB written on them.  You may even discover the inner Sweat-hog you didn’t know you had in you. Bring your own implements or use those provided by Team KVP, and join Team: Keeping Venice Beautiful.  If you would like more information call 941-207-8224 or email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Team KVB Photo 4 Venice Waterway Park Trail

Preserve the Past, Enjoy the Present, Plan for the Future by Maria Baskin

What do all these organizations have in common?

VNWC Photo

    The Venice-Nokomis Woman's Club (VNWC) is a group of more than 100 dedicated  women who don’t just talk about working for and supporting our community, they “walk-the-walk.”

    The VNWC began in 1926 when  Mrs. Albee, wife of the world renowned  surgeon Dr. Fred  Albee, along with Mrs. Kehr Higel co-founded and presided over the  first VNWC.  Our Downtown Library, currently under construction, came out of the efforts of the VNWC, spearheaded by the Albees in the mid 1900s.

    Still today, the Club’s giving touches the lives of the aged, the poor, and families in need within our community.  The Club’s work extends beyond providing the basics. VNWC raises money to fight hunger and provide clothing  and shelter  by supporting such organizations as the Salvation Arm and the Campaign Against Hunger. This year, the VNWC is actively involved in Our Mother’s House and the Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Project taking place October 24-28. Women from all walks of lifewill join together to build a home in North Port.  For details , call Ann at 941-412-7639.  

    VNWC supports academic success and awards scholarships to students at Venice High School and Suncoast Community College.  The Club is also aware that those most vulnerable in our community are the mentally challenged who, in an era of constant cut-backs to social programs, need financial support.  The Loveland Center is a perfect example.

    Many may not be aware that the VNWC is also involved in many community events, and the woman members volunteer to lend a hand when needed.  The VNWC participates in the annual Downtown Venice Christmas in July event organized by Venice MainStreet, the VABI Tree Lighting ceremony, and the Venice Holiday Parade.  The VNWC has raised over $7,000 during the 2016-17 fiscal year.    

     The women in the VNWC carry on the legacy of the Club’s founders by participating in a variety of Venice and Nokomis events, and by donating thousands of dollars each year to local charities and non-profit organizations. Following in their predecessors footsteps, today’s members continue to give back and pay it forward in order to fulfill their mission to: Preserve the Past…Enjoy the Present…Plan for the future…

Answer:  Venice-Nokomis Women's Club

Venice Nokomis Womens Club Ad 2017

Fun Things To Do in Venice

Venice is a unique small town.  Known as the “City on the Gulf,” it is a destination whereyou can indulge your senses and pamper your soul.  When you meander the Avenues of Miami, Venice and Tampa and take in the sights and sounds of children playing in the Intergenerational Fountain or just sit on one of the many shaded benches and people-watch as you plan the many other things you can do around Venice.

Fun things you can do and more…
1.    Browse the over 100 unique clothing boutiques, art galleries and gift shops.
2.    Dine around the world from Asia and back to the Americas, either indoors or out.
3.    Bring your puppies to Paw Park where all humans and dogs are welcome.
4.    Explore the longest stretch of unspoiled beaches in southwest Florida.
5.    Take your grandchildren and children to the Centennial Park’s Interactive Fountain to cool off.
6.    Expand your cultural experiences and attend a play at the Venice Theatre or grab a beach chair and take in a free concert at the Gazebo or different exhibits at the Venice Art Center.
7.    Walk, ride your bike, or rollerblade from Caspersen Beach to Sarasota on the Venetian Waterway and the Legacy Trail.
8.    Take a walking tour of Venice, historic homes, downtown avenues and the restored Venice Depot.
9.    Go bird watching at the Venice Rookery where a variety of birds make their home.
10.  Enjoy our regular FREE events at the Gazebo:

Friday, October 13 from 7-9pm, Kat and the Rhythm Gators Band
Friday, October 27, 7-9pm, Larry Yunker Band

SPECIAL EVENTS coming up soon:
~  Spooktacular Halloween Parade in downtown Venice:  Tuesday, October 31
Venice MainStreet and Venice Lions Club will once again host the “Children’s Halloween Parade” for kids of all ages, parents, neighbors, visitors and friendly ghosts.  Children, accompanied by an adult, will gather at Centennial Park Gazebo at 4:30pm along West Venice Avenue, behind “Old Betsy” the Venice Fire Truck.  At 5:00pm, children are free to Trick or Treat for more goodies at participating stores along the Avenues.

~  The Blues Crawl:  November 17, 7pm from Miami Avenue to Downtown
This event is an extension of the Venice Blues Festival and a warm up for the festival to be held the next day. This is a free event held to benefit the community.  
~ The 5th Annual Venice Blues Festival:  November 18, 12-7pm, at Maxine Barritt Park
The Florida Blues Festivals have a large following and our Venice Blues Festival is no exception attracting visitors from all over.  Local restaurants and community sponsors come together to make this popular annual event memorable.  The Festival showcases internationally renowned talent in the beautiful setting of Maxine Barritt Park.  Last year over 3,000 were in attendance and we are expecting this year will be bigger and better. Tickets may be purchased at

Don’t miss out on the FUN!  We welcome locals and out-of-towners to come and enjoy the music featuring Andrew Jr., Boy Jones, Eliza Neals, Cece, Teneal, Tommy Z and the famous headliner Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio.

Lovin’ Our Locals: Venice Beach Party 2017 by Heidi Reslow

Venice MainStreet would like to extend an invitation to locals, friends, neighbors and visitors to attend a FREE music festival.  Venice Honda and Venice Toyota present Venice Beach Party 2017 to be held on September 23 from 2:45pm-7:45pm on Venice Public Beach.  It is a small token of our appreciation to thank our locals for their support of our small business community.  Whether you visit downtown Venice on a regular basis or come once in a blue moon to this unique downtown, you will not want to miss this a one-of-a-kind event.  So come and enjoy the beach, great food, and music, and experience all those good feelings of being a part of a small town community.Hula Hooper photo
Start the day with lunch at one of our fine restaurants offering unique delectable selections from brick oven pizza to fresh fish and seafood.  Several new international restaurants have recently opened featuring traditional Greek, French, and Turkish menus.  After lunch, drop by one of Venice’s many trendy boutiques where you are sure to find a special trinket or bauble for yourself, your home or souvenirs for your children and grandchildren. The downtown shop owners are always showcasing interesting knickknacks, wardrobe pieces, and whimsical treasures to stir the imagination. And for you people-watchers, there are plenty of benches outside the shops where you can just sit and relax while enjoying a delicious ice cream cone from one of the local soda fountain stops.
So now your taste buds and satisfied and you are all-shopped-out, what next?  Hop the FREE shuttle from the downtown parking lots to Venice Public Beach and be part of the fun at the Venice Beach Party.  

Beach Party Sunset Photo

At the beach parking lot, local businesses will showcase “all things local”.  There will be 7 food vendors, 2 beer wagons, a shark tooth dig, and games in the family fun zone.  Come and enjoy some good food, sip some wine, and enjoy Budweiser beer products sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle.  More beverages are in the works.  Bring your own chair and relax under the shaded tent to listen to the steel drums by Sarasota Steel Pan Band (2:45pm), jam band and classic rock by Kettle of Fish (4:45pm), and beach music by Tropical Ave (6:45pm).

Come join the party - and bring your family and friends.


Thank you to this year’s Venice Beach Party sponsors:  Budweiser, Culligan, Florida Bike & Beach, Gulf Coast Medical Group, PGT, Publix, Sharky’s on the Pier, WaterNative, and the Venice Gondolier Sun.
Important information:
No coolers or pets.

Two shuttles will run the ten minutes loop around the island from 3:00pm-8:30pm.                                             

Check the map.  Signs will alert you to preferred parking.

Beach Party Shuttle Map

Venice on the Island: What’s New on the Menu? by Maria Baskin

There is a restaurant to satisfy everyone’s tastes on the island.  I recently visited two of them:  Bordrum and Popi’s Place on the Isle.

If you want to taste fine TurkBodrum 1ish cuisine you can go to the coast of the Aegean Sea to the city of Bodrum  or  you can make reservation  downtown Venice at the new Turkish restaurant by the same name, Bodrum, located on Miami Avenue.  The restaurant is tucked inside Burgundy Square across from the parking lot on Miami.  Chef-Owner, Ersen Irsel, comes to Venice via New York City where he trained with some of the best Turkish chefs in the industry.  Juliya, his co-owner and lovely, soft-spoken wife of two years, also worked alongside her husband for several years at New York establishments.  

As I waited for the owners to begin the interview, the white and royal blue décor and the crisp white tablecloths gave me the feeling of sitting at a beachside restaurant not on the Aegean coast but our very own Gulf coast.  I asked Ersen, “How is the restaurant doing?”  He hesitated a little and then smiled. “I would rather let my customers speak for the restaurant.   You can read their comments on Trip Advisor.  We are so pleased that they keep coming back.”  I did check and the reviews are great.  Their food is as authentic as they are.  They purchase all the ingredients from local vendors, their meats are grass fed, free range and, whenever possible, organic.  “But the spices and condiments” Ersen tells me, “are all imported from Turkey since they are not available in our area.”

Last Saturday, I invited a couple of friends to try out some of the interesting dishesBodrum 2 on the menu.  We were blown away at how finely prepared and fresh everything is.    I had the “lollipop” lamb chops which were melt-in-your-mouth perfect.  My friend, a vegan, had the Mediterranean Salad with a scoop of hummus on top.  It was light, fresh and delicious.  I regretted not ordering the “Sample Mezze Platter” so that I could have tasted a variety of traditional appetizers –stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush, to name a few.  My husband had the salmon, which he said was prepared to perfection.  Another friend ordered the “Bodrum Kofte Kebab” a char-grilled grass-fed lamb and beef dish.  There was not a morsel left on any of our dishes.  When we left the restaurant, we all agreed Bodrum is a keeper.

A few days later, I sat down with Jay Odem, a former Navy veteran, and Sheryl  Flint, Owners of Popi’s Place on the Isle, a chef-family-owned restaurant where it’s all about American home-style cooking with Greek influence.   

From the moment I shook hands with Jay and Sheryl, I Popi 1felt as though I was being welcomed into their home.  And no wonder, Jay built all the tables and booths and, with Sheryl’s help, gave the restaurant, from floor to ceiling, its easy open down-home feel.   “How does the Greek culture influence your food?”  I ask Sheryl.  “Many years ago, we lived next door to the owner of the original Popi’s Place Greek restaurant.  Once our families got to know each other, we became part of their extended family and that’s when Popi taught Jay how to cook Greek food.   Later, Jay added all-American favorites you see on the menu and the rest is history.”  She hands me a menu and I can’t believe the choices. 

Next time you are hungry and can’t think of what you want to eat, check out Popi’s Place on the Isle.  There are traditional Greek dishes like – gyros, spanakopita, cabbage rolls and homemade, baked in-house desserts like their scrumptious “baklava cheesecake.”   But if that day, Greek food is not doing it for you, you can select from one of their 17 varieties of club sandwiches, meatloaf, biscuits and gravy, and they even offer 13 gluten-free salads.  

My favorite meal to eat out is breakfast-brunch.   At Popi’s on the Isle, you can have their knock-out French toast made with ham-turkey-swiss cheese topped with powdered sugar and raspberry jam!   And don’t forget to add one of their Blackberry Kiss or Lavender infused mimosas or their popular ultimate breakfast/brunch Bloody Mary made with celery, olive and bacon.  But if it’s something else you crave there is a full liquor bar that serves up everything from Italian Prosecco to Greek featured wines to beer - draft, bottle, local and seasonal to Sangrias along with signature cocktails like –Oh My Agave Margarita and Peach Spiked Tea. 

This generous couple also gives back to families and the community as a whole. Any child under the age of twelve and accompanied by an adult customer eats free.  On teacher work-days, Jay and Sheryl send free trays of food to the nearby Venice High School, as a gesture of appreciation and as a way to give back.  

Popi’s Place on the Isle is a family eatery where, not only, are you welcome, but you will feel as though you are eating at your very own Popi’s place.  It is perfect for Venice Foodies or members of HOA groups, dinner or luncheon clubs or golfing buddies. There are many restaurant choices on the Island serving national and international dishes, make sure you put Bodrum and Popi’s Place on the Isle on your must try list.

  Popi 2 

Lovin’ Our Locals: Wine Walk!

   During Season, downtown loves its visitors, but on Thursday, August 17 we will take the time to thank our locals for supporting us all year long.

   In recent months, it is refreshing and exciting to see many new boutiques and restaurants opening up on Tampa, Venice and Miami Avenues.  Plus, Venice Area Beautification, Inc. has dressed up downtown Venice with a mix of flowering potted plants, new shrubbery, and many well placed and cared for baskets hanging off the prominent light posts.Wine Walk Photo 2 2017

   Of course the best thing about the Wine Walk is meeting the many welcoming and easy going personalities of the Avenue Shopkeepers, and learning about their specialties. Anyone who enters Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe located on West Miami Avenue, will become an instant friend of Owner, Suzanne Andrews.  Suzanne is excited for this year’s Wine Walk, and says, “For this year’s Wine Walk, visitors will receive a complimentary recipe book with the tea version of summer coolers. Plus, our visitors will receive tips on combining iced hibiscus and rosehips tea with a hint of orange for the perfect mixer to accompany their preferred spirit.  Sample the alcohol-free version during the Wine Walk.”

   Joyce McCaffrey, Proprietor of Eyes on You located on West Venice Avenue, offers a personalized and professional approach to eyewear selection and custom lingerie fitting. She eagerly boasts, “Historic Downtown Venice is a very special place.  People don’t realize how fortunate we are to have quality dining locales, unique boutiques, and a variety of cultural activities to enjoy.”    
Lynda Krause, Owner of LaBella Interiors located on West Venice Avenue, says, “The Wine Walk is something the participating business establishments want to do for the locals.  People can come and enjoy a fun night out and do a little shopping.  For us, we will be showcasing the latest in window coverings, blinds and so much more.”   

   On Thursday, August 17 at 5:00pm, Wine Walkers can pick up their free wristband at the kiosk in Centennial Park or the breezeway in the Burgundy Square Building on Miami Avenue as well as a list of participating downtown businesses. The first 250 people will receive a special blue Lovin’ Our Locals wristband.  Restaurants will offer specials like buy-one-get-one-free or half price glasses of wine and shops will be offering wine or punch or some other surprising delight.  

   EWine Walk Photo 1 2017ach participating shop or restaurant will be, in its own way, Lovin’ Our Locals. During the event visit these participating businesses Café Venice, Cleopatra’s Bath & Body, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes (2 locations), Down Island Way Boutique, Eyes on You, Flynn’s, La Bella Interiors, Made in Italy, Moizelle, Mother’s Cupboard, Nautical Sand Sculptures, Navamaze, Needlefish Yarns, Ristorante San Marco, Shirt Stop, Sirena Island Day Spa, Tarpon Bay Trading Co., TJ Carney’s, Trattoria Da Mino, Venice Avenue Creamery, Venice in Vogue, Venice Olive Oil Company, and Venice Wine & Coffee.

Come & Sail with Venice Youth Boating Association!

The more exposure a student receives in learning how to sail, the better equipped they become to increase their skill level.  Challenging themselves builds their confidence level and keeps them interested in the sailing arena.
The kids sail from Roberts Bay, travel by the Jetty, and head out to the Gulf.  Each child is assigned to a boat, and with that comes the responsibility to care for and perform the proper maintenance on their assigned boat at the end of each session.  VBYA 1a

In April 2017, Tara Foster became the first female Program Director for the organization. She joined VYBA in 2016 as a Coach.  Tara is the perfect complement to VYBA, bringing a wealth of knowledge, innovative ideas, and her love-of-the-water experiences.

Tara has called Florida her home since middle school and graduated from Pine View High School.  A graduate of Denison University, she was an active member of the university’s sailing team as Captain, then Commodore, and finally Alumni Advisor following her graduation with a major in theatre and minor in physics. The VYBA is fortunate to have Tara on board to share her extraordinary talent, skills, sailing knowledge, and experiences.  

She has a sincere passion for helping sailors of all skill levels to gain an in-depth knowledge about sailing.  Building the kids’ confidence level while keeping sailing fun and inviting is a primary goal. She is excited to continue to share her love of the sport and to inspire that passion in others through the VYBA.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a fantastic Youth Sailing Program that cares so deeply about the young sailors from our area. The commitment and dedication of our sailors is a wonderful complement to the time and care put forth by our Board, the community, and all of the Program Parents that help us to participate and be involved in so many aspects of the sailing world. It's truly a gift to be the Program Director and Coach for so many bright, capable kids and I look forward to seeing all that they can offer to the VYBA and the Venice community as they continue to grow through our Program.”    

Blake Dominy, a young, energetic sailor clearly knows the importance of caring for his boat as he carried his assigned vessel to its proper place of storage.  When asked, what he likes best about VYBA, he eagerly responded, “Everything!”


VYBA’s School Year Race Program and School Year Adventure Program run from late August through late May. The Race Program requires that young sailors complete the Beginner and Advanced Course over the summer for the Fleet they intend to join. This year, VYBA added the Adventure Program which requires successfully completing a Beginner Course or two weeks of Pollywogs. The core focus of all the VYBA programs is to keep the area-youth engaged in sailing activities.

The Summer Program runs June 12 through August 11, and is open to all youth in the Greater Venice Area.  The summer program classes are half day, either 9am to noon or 1pm to 4pm, Monday through Friday.  All skill levels are welcome.  To be participate in sailing classes during the school year, the students must first successfully complete the Beginner and Advanced levels. The VYBA sailing program has become a family affair, and parents of the young sailors are encouraged to participate by observing and photographing the action from the dock.  

The VYBA supports the Venice High School Sailing team, formed in 2016.  The team uses the VYBA’s C420 boats and coaches travel with the team to all of the regattas.  The team received high fives from the Venice Community after they placed 17th out of 40 in the SAISA Division in their first year.  


The Adult Learn To Sail Program offers the opportunity for area adults to see what this youth sailing craze is all about. Geared towards adults who have none to some sailing experience, classes are taught on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 9pm. Each Adult Session includes 6 classes, and this summer 3 sessions are being offered. Registration and more information about all of the Programs can be found on the website at

The Boston Whalers used to travel with and monitor the student sailors are equipped with first aid kits, and the instructors carry VHF radios and cell phones.  In the event assistance is required at any time on the water, the instructors can easily have immediate contact with the Venice Yacht Club Dock Master or the Venice Marine Patrol.

VYBA is a 501©(3) non-profit organization that is governed by an all-volunteer board of directors chartered with exercising a serious fiduciary responsibility to insure vitality of the organization now and for the future. Tuition fees cover only a portion of the coaching costs.  Other expenditures must be covered by community donations and fund-raising activities.

VMS Named Main Street of The Month

FL Department of State

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today the Venice MainStreet program has been designated the July 2017 Florida Main Street Community of the Month. Communities are selected based on their developmental achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street Program. Venice MainStreet, which started in 1988, has resulted in the development of nearly 1,000 jobs, 300 businesses and 31,000 hours of volunteer support. Remodeling and rehabilitation of the historic downtown buildings resulted in $133.7 million of investment and construction of new compatible structures led to $76.7 million in investment.

“Venice is one of our oldest Main Street organizations and its impact on the community is reflected in all of its great successes,” said Secretary Detzner. “Venice is home to many community events, concerts and fairs, and has become a model for Main Street programs in Florida.”

For more information:

Christmas In July - Sat & Sun, July 21-21 from 10am to 5pm

Downtown Venice: “Christmas in July”
By Maria Baskin

Don’t panic!  Don’t wrack you brains out because you don’t know what to get for the kids or your husband or the friend who has everything for Christmas. Come to Downtown Venice on Friday and Saturday,

Christmas in July Photo 1a

July 21-22 from 10:00am-5:00pm where you can experience stress-free shopping in the true spirit of Christmas. It will be a fun event with gifts, a raffle, decorations, and new stores, on all the avenues and some of the alleys in between!


We all remember the Christmas decorations, the lights, the ornaments and the Christmas villages. Many of Venice’s finest stores will help to get you in to the spirit with all the Christmas trappings including delectable goodies. When we think of each Christmas past, most of us remember the last minute shopping, stores running out of items, the long lines at the registers, and the mountains of gift wrapping.  Where does all the Christmas “spirit” go?  The downtown Venice two-day Christmas in July event will put the “Merry-ment” back into your Christmas shopping adventure. The local vendors of the avenues will offer special discounts storewide or on selected items, and some will remain open later on the Friday, the 21st. At 10am on Saturday, the 22nd, Santa will join the Venice Fire Department for a ride on Venice’s newest fire truck around the Avenues, starting at the West end of the Venice Farmer’s Market.

There will be festivities to enjoy all over Venice. Paris Hair Design Salon in the KMI Building on Tampa Avenue will host a party, complete with door prizes, from 2pm to 7pm on Friday the 21st, with music, appetizers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to make Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe on Miami a must-stop on your journey. This unique nook offers all kinds of tips to spice-up a meal or pick up a new kitchen utensil that you didn’t even know you needed.  Plus, you have to pop in for a free chocolate chip cookie. Stop by Elephants Trunk at 595 South Tamiami Trail for more great deals, kids’ activities, a bake sale, popcorn, hotdogs, and more!  And don’t forget to give the Gift of Life at the available Blood Mobile.

There will be a raffle give-a-way of 4 gift baskets, full of donated items from the downtown businesses worth a total of $1,000 – shoes, Champagne, jewelry, clothing, gift certificates and much more.   Bring the children to meet Santa & Mrs. Claus from 11:00am-4:00pm and then ride the trolley that will drop you off at any stop along any of the Avenues – West Venice, Tampa and Miami.

Christmas in July Photo 2a
Get a jump on your holiday gift giving and make a day of shopping and dining in Downtown Venice.  Browse the shops and collect those really cool ideas for those on your nice list.  Items will pop out at you as you think out loud, “That would be great for Dad.” Or, “Wow, that is perfect for my sister.”  And you can’t help but add a little something for yourself to your shopping bags.

Forget your stresses and get in the spirit  at the Downtown Venice “Christmas in July” event. You can catch Santa and    Mrs. Claus on Friday, July 21 at Café Venice on West Venice Avenue at noontime or on Saturday, July 22 at   Abby’s restaurant on Miami Avenue at noontime.

Pick up your “free” raffle tickets at many of the downtown businesses. The raffle will be done on Tuesday, July 25th, and winners will be contacted. Ride the Trolley on both days from 11am to 4pm. Thank you to the merchants of Miami Avenue and the Venice Gondolier Sun for sponsoring the trolley!

Visit the many participating businesses to find great shopping and get in the holiday spirit: Aura Organic Spa + Wellness, B&B Bootery, Café Venice, Captain’s Landing, Celebration Corner, Ciao Gelato, Cleopatra’s Bath & Body, Coldwell Banker, Collector’s Gallery & Framery, Croissant & Company, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, DP Fitness & Wellness, Earth Treasures, Elephant’s Trunk, ERA Preferred Properties of Venice Lauren Meadows, Eyes On You, Florida Olive Oil Company, Fraser’s Island Gift Nook, Island Life Hammock Company, La Bella Interiors, Lisa’s Classic Rose, Lueanne Wood, P.A., Made in Italy, Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe, Mrs. Candlewick’s Shoppe, Nana’s A Children’s Shop, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Sandy’s Designer Clothing, Scarlet Macaw Resort Wear, Seaside Chic Boutique, Sunbug, Tangi & Jess, Tarpon Bay Trading Company, The Tabletop, Treasures in Time, Venice in Vogue, Venice Olive Oil Company, Venice Stationers, Venice Trading Company, Venice Wine & Coffee, Wish On the Island

30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival - Official Poster Design Contest

30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest
November 4 & 5, 2017

Official Poster Design Contest

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for the 30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest official poster design.  The artist selected by the Design Committee will be awarded $500 for their design, along with a booth at the festival ($500 value, for a prize package worth $1,000).  The winning design will be featured as the official poster, which will be showcased on merchandise* and in advertising**.  The winner must be available for an unveiling event on the evening of Wednesday, November 1, 2017.20th Annual Art Festival 2007 ArchwayPoster

•    Original (unframed) artwork must be delivered to Collector’s Gallery and Framery (114 South Nokomis Avenue) between September 18 and 5pm September 23, 2017.
•    The winner must also submit a high-resolution editable, working digital file (for poster and merchandise production).
•    Finished poster size will be 22” x 28” (original does not need to be the same size).
•    Image must follow a theme of “Celebrating Venice’s Historic Architecture as Venice Turns 90.” (Copy that will be incorporated into the poster/merchandise will include “30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest”).

*the design will be showcased on other merchandise, along with the t-shirts.
**the design will be utilized in advertising done by Venice MainStreet, Inc.  Any advertising done by Howard Alan Events may not include the design.

About the Downtown Venice Art Fest
The Downtown Venice Art Fest is one of the area’s largest and finest art shows. Thousands of visitors kick-off season with this Howard Alan event that takes place along Venice Avenue in beautiful, historic downtown Venice. 

For more information, please call Venice MainStreet at 941.484.6722.  Find out more about Howard Alan Events at

Artist Information:
City, State, Zip:_________________________________________________________
Entry Title:_____________________________________________________________

Release:  If the design I have submitted to the 2017 (30th Annual) Downtown Venice Art Fest Poster Design Contest is selected as the winning entry, Venice MainStreet and Howard Alan Events have the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, and distribute copies of the work.  The original can be sold by me (the artist).  In exchange for reproduction rights and preparation of high-resolution digital file, I will receive $500 and a booth at the festival.


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