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Grills Lakeside Seafood Restaurant
4301 N Orange Blossm Trail
Orlando, Fl 32804
(407) 291-8881

Locations: Longwood and Orlando

 Home Page Article Archives 2014-2015 
It's Time to Renew...!
Your time is up. Gotta renew the old membership...
It's Time to Renew...!

October 21, 2014 - Here's an urgent note reminding all our members that it is now time to renew your membership for 2015! To facilitate the management of our Membership Cap, we are adjusting our renewal period to one month earlier annually to allow CCO to re-open Membership Applications sooner in the new year if we have Cap openings.  For the first time, invoicing has been completed via email on October 20, 2014 and all messages were customized to member renewal status. Renewals are Due and Payable December 1st, 2014 and become Past Due January 1, 2015.  Delinquent memberships will be removed from the CCO Roster if dues are not recorded as paid by the end of business at our regular Meeting of the Membership, Wednesday, January 21, 2015.  Please follow all the instructions on your personalized email message and respond today!

Space Coast Drive - Ecklers and Dixie Crossroads
Space Coast Drive - Ecklers and Dixie Crossroads
Ecklers Industries massive parking area

Titusville, Florida - On Saturday April 11, over twenty Corvettes converged on Nicks Family Diner for a pre-drive breakfast.  As always, thanks to CCO Sponsors Angie, Nick and their staff  for always being ready for our crowd with great smiles a super breakfast in Corvette style speed! Upon completing our meal, some socializing and a short drivers meeting, we headed east toward Florida’s Space Coast and Ecklers Industries in three group caravans.

Our gang gathering for drivers meeting after breakfast.

After a pleasant hour-long drive, CCO’s three groups of Corvettes pulled into Ecklers expansive parking area. Located just west of Titusville’s TiCo airport off Grissom Parkway, Ecklers huge new facility houses all fifteen Ecklers Automotive lines in one location. Upon entering the facility we were introduced to staff and set out on a casual guided stroll in the massive warehouse where we were encouraged to browse about and familiarize ourselves with the massive selection of Corvette parts and accessories!

Mike and JR are very curious guests...

Winding up our visit, the ladies went about shopping for Corvette apparel, etc., in the showroom. After about an hour at Ecklers, we drove north to a Titusville landmark seafood restaurant - World Famous Dixie Crossroads.  Established in 1983, Dixie Crossroads has been a purveyor of the finest seafood, shrimp and steak specialties along Florida’s Central Coast we’ve likely ever experienced.  With a massive amount of seating capacity, the restaurant placed our group near a kitchen entrance and served up a bounty of awesome corn fritters, followed by tasty cooked to order seafood - the author especially liked their seasonal red shrimp offering - in two dozen fashion!

CCO chows down on good Dixie Crossroads Seafood

After a great meal, and many to-go boxes filled, it was back to the parking lot for our final discussions and good-bye’s.  Thanks go to CCO Member Herb Merksamer for suggesting and organizing the itinerary, and running the course ahead of time to firm up directions - that’s detail for ya! Thanks to John Bradham for email blast promoting, handling RSVP’s and finally, thanks to all for making the drive a safe one and enjoying the day!  

"Attention - Stand at Ease..!"
Armed Forces Military Museum - Photo's Courtesy of Rich Craig

Largo, Florida - Saturday, March 28 - On a beautiful Saturday, sunny-but-crisp morning, approximately 25 Corvettes from the Corvette Club of Orlando took off for a majestic back roads trip planned by the master himself, Ed Merchut. The adventure took us through some of Florida’s scenic roads and towns as we turned west, then south, then east, then west. After journeying for 1.5 hours, we arrived at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, Fl. By the way, the museum was founded in 1996 by John J. Piazza with an additional 15,000 sq. ft. outdoor display space. This Armed Forces History Museum is one of the largest, non-government funded, museums in the entire southeast. 

 Because we were such a large group, we were split into 2 groups each having their own guide for the tour. Our guide happened to be Frank, a former marine who has studied and researched years and years of factual information regarding the armed forces, the various conflicts and wars, and the multitude of equipment needed for each branch.  He was truly a patriot, through and through as well as an exceptional guide, pouring his heart out in every word at each scene. His knowledge of armed forces history throughout our great country’s trials and tribulations of war was exceptional. 

At the beginning of Frank’s tour, we saw a large display outside of actual military aircraft, tanks, and vehicles of all shapes and sizes, many of which were restored to their original glory right here at the museum.  Once inside this award-winning museum, we journeyed through the trenches of WWI, then we were at Pearl Harbor, the South Pacific, Germany, a French Village during WW2, the Korean War and, we stepped into the jungles of Vietnam and ended with the Cold War, the Gulf Wars and present day conflicts involving the US. 

The extraordinary sights, scents and sounds that envelop you actually felt like you were right there during those horrific times. Frank ended our tour in a conference room where Q&A took place for a few minutes. There was a dollar machine that the proceeds went to under privileged children to help fund their tours through the museum. As fortune would have it, many played the machine for the scratch offs and Rich Craig won $100. He immediately turned his winnings over to the museum for the sake of the children. That is simply awesome. Well done Rich!

From here, we fired up the Corvettes and took off down the road for a great lunch at Largo’s The Way restaurant. This was a great spot to accommodate our large group. We can all thank Larry and Karen Greshel  for setting this reservation for us. Job well done!  As the afternoon progressed and our meals finished, we all said our farewells and headed back to home base. This was an awesome trip, very well executed from departure, the journey, the tour, and finally lunch. 

Hip-hip hooray !

~ Article submitted by Nick Francoforte.  For more pics by Rich Craig see Armed Forces Military Museum Gallery 

Backroads to Blackwater via Barberville...
Backroads to Blackwater via Barberville...
To rainy for outdoor photography so here's a T-Shirt Pic for Sale at the Blackwater Inn

February 28, Astor Florida - "Rain or shine!" - That's what we were thinking as over twenty Corvettes pulled out of CCO's meet-point for anther mystery drive and lunch planned by Don and Ed last Saturday morning February 28.  Printed instructions led turn by turn to our first pit stop near Barberville, then on to Barberville Roadside. 

Yard Art at Barberville Roadside

One of the largest collections of 'Yard Art and Produce" you could ever imagine has stood at the corner of US 17 and State Road 40 for nearly 25 years.  CCO browsed amongst wooden carvings, ceramics, wrought iron and statuary, snatched up roasted peanuts, honey and soda and many promised to return to purchase seven foot tall rooster statues to large to fit in Corvettes! 

Don and Jewel get some Bench Rest at Barberville Roadside

Soon, group leaders announced we needed to make our way further west on SR 40 to our final destination - and mystery spot - The Blackwater Inn, directly on the Saint John's River at the crossing of SR 40 in Astor Florida.  

CCO would be seated in a separate dining room holding hungary mystery riders and a few overflowed into the main dining room. 

Don announcing winner of 'free lunch' for correctly guessing the Mystery Location...

All had wonderful picture window views of the river, even though the weather was limiting normal heavy weekend boat traffic.  Astor is just south of massive Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida. The lake draws thousands of daily visitors seeking pleasure, watersports, hunting and fishing opportunities and many travel up the Saint John's River from points south past Astor to reach the lake.  Lunch was completely off the menu and excellent seafood and land-lubber dishes came out of the kitchen in good time and was enjoyed by all.  

As the rain continued steady through lunch and after, we darted back to our Corvettes, some heading home, others to a third optional stop via another long back roads ride southward to the Mount Dora Brewing Company on Highland Street.  There, one last afternoon adult beverage and more social time capped off another successful ride, shopping and a meal, safely traveled on wet roads, enjoyed by a great group of CCO friends!  Thanks go to Event Organizer Don Ianitelli, Drive Planner Ed Merchut and our VP of Activities John Bradham for promoting the event and maintaining the event roster!

Photo Credit Joy Symmes and Howard Brown

A Fruitful Mystery Drive
A Fruitful Mystery Drive

Citra, Florida - On Saturday, January 31, Sixteen Corvettes spanning six generations (1964-2015) led by Ed Merchut departed Mount Dora heading generally northwest. Mr. M, (as John Bradham now refers to Ed as) laid out a beautiful route through Lake, Marion and Alachua Counties heading into Old Florida citrus country.  Armed with only partial-route turn-by-turn driving instructions, we drove in small groups to our first regathering for a pit stop. Destination still a mystery, we were handed yet another partial set of instructions to our first discovered mystery: 'The Orange Shop.'  The Orange Shop, opened in 1936, has been a family run citrus grower and distributor for three generations and is located directly on old US Highway 301 in the small north-central Florida village of Citra.  Once the center of Citrus in Florida, this community saw it's prominence in Florida agriculture decline after several successive freezes in the early 1900's. Now, Pete and Cindy Spyke continue the family tradition growing and distributing award winning citrus from land in Marion and Indian River Counties - despite the hardships of replanting and managing groves decimated by the freezes that have eliminated almost an entire industry this far north in Florida.

After a packing house tour, sampling of tasty citrus products and some social time outside, it was time to roll on to our lunch location.  With our last page of driving instructions in hand, we motor on to a place steeped in Florida historical and literary significance - Cross Creek and the 'Yearling' Restaurant.  Here, CCO would be introduced to another Old Florida treat.  As the photo's in our event gallery will attest, the Yearling is filled with a massive amount of memorabilia reminiscent of renowned author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - most noted for her book 'The Yearling.' The story was set right there on the banks of Cross Creek in Alachua County in the early 20th century.  After a group lunch including seafood or chicken and accompanyments in a dining room with shelves full of books, antiques and a live harmonica & guitar musical note or two, CCO said their goodbye's and headed out for an afternoon drive home.

Thanks go to Ed Merchut for continuing his tradition of educational, back road, 'Florida on a tank full' type drives.  Also we must recognize John Bradham for assisting Ed fill up these events by tirelessly soliciting the membership via email and tracking attendance!

We'll see you on our next Corvette Club of Orlando Back Road Mystery Trip!

See Event Gallery for Photos of this event.

CCO Celebrates the Holidays in Style!
CCO Celebrates the Holidays in Style!
CCO Gathers at Heathrow for Annual Celebration

Heathrow, Florida - On Saturday evening, January 3rd, CCO celebrated another great year, recognized the teamwork that makes CCO successful, ate & drank well, and acompanied by great music - danced our way into 2015.  This year's event was held at the exclusive Heathrow Golf and Country Club in beautiful Seminole County.  We need to recognize the efforts of event organizer Rena Woodley who thought of everything, working closely with Toni Curlin at Heathrow to put together a really great event.  Thanks also go out to John Bradham who supported Rena and energized the membership to attend, Rich Craig for his photography and to Susan King for keeping track of the bank!  

Please see full gallery of Rich's action photos here or visit our Gallery Menu.

On behalf of CCO President Mike Nostro and the entire Board of Directors, The Corvette Club of Orlando extends our thanks to our membership, our valued sponsors, our website visitors, friends, followers and all the CCO Family for making sure that 2014 was a great year!

Stay tuned as 2015 will be even better...!

National Corvette Caravan and NCM 20th Anniversary
National Corvette Caravan and NCM 20th Anniversary

Bowling Green, KY - It was the morning of Wednesday, August 27th. Corvettes began filling the parking lot at the Florida Turnpike’s Okahumpka Service Plaza, coming in from the official NCM Florida Caravan’s opening day of activities in Sebring. Florida Caravan Captain, Carrie Sue DeLeon, was parked in the lead position and began distributing goody-bags and handbooks.  Everyone milled about the parking lot reconnecting with old Corvette friends and caught their last snacks and bathroom breaks.  Others arriving from many Central Florida origins, including twenty-one CCO Corvettes, found parking anywhere possible as an estimated two-hundred cars assembled for an official Florida Caravan launch just before 10:00 AM.  Finally the word went out to “roll” and the journey began. See More

Old Farts in Karts Weekend
Old Farts in Karts Weekend

Ruskin, Florida - September 19, 2014 - Twelve CCO Corvettes made their way south on back roads this morning, their occupants looking for a break from the daily grind and a great weekend of enjoyment with friends. Ed was again master planner for a great drive through rural Southwest Florida.  First destination: Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery, Bunker Hill, Florida - a Certified Florida Farm Winery located southeast of the Tampa Bay area.  Larry and Lenora Woodham - proprietors, hosted our group, provided a nice buffet lunch and gave us an informative winery tour and comprehensive tasting of their varied and creative wines. CCO thanks the Woodham’s for their hospitality!  Bunker Hill has established themselves as a Green Environmentally Responsible Vineyard and enjoys the distinction of being labeled “The Greenest Winery in America.”  Visit for more information. Many CCO’ers made purchases, and we departed slow and safe in what had now become a significant downpour, destination: Ruskin, Florida, and the Inn at Little Harbor, where we would meet several more CCO members who traveled straight to Little Harbor, foregoing the winery leg of the weekend.  Click for More...

Pot-Luck Gathering
Pot-Luck Gathering

Clermont - Saturday, October 25 CCO gathered at the beautiful home of Steve and Darlene Misciagno for a “Pot-Luck” Party.  The evening could have been a Halloween themed event… or perhaps a ‘Murder Mystery at Midnight,’ 

but finally we decided to just bring and share a dish of home cooking, have a drink and hang out with friends!  When thirty-seven CCO’ers get together, it’s going to be great fun and it was! 

The Misciagno’s are fairly new to CCO having joined in January of 2013.  We appreciate how they’ve gotten involved attending events, helping at meetings and even opening their home for CCO gatherings on multiple occasions. 

Hosts Steve & Darlene said “It was great food and everyone seemed to have a good time. It is a good idea to get the group out socializing so we can get to know each other better.” 

And oh yes, their family business is also a Gold Level Sponsor here at!  We are grateful for their hospitality and are looking forward to more events at their home! 

Photos courtesy of Joe Symmes and Steve Misciagno

Winter Park Village & CCO Collaborate On Exclusive Event
Winter Park Village & CCO Collaborate On Exclusive Event
Spotlight on a Champion
Spotlight on a Champion

Lake Mary, Florida - If one was to look up the definition of the term Champion in Webster’s Dictionary, they’d certainly find the above photo accompanying the entry.  Yes, that’s CCO Member Ed Merchut standing proudly behind his treasured Torch Red 1999 Fixed Roof Coupe, sharing the pavement with sixty two trophies this car/owner team has been awarded over the past sixteen years! 

Purchased in March of 1999, this award winning Corvette is indeed unique. Ed and his wife, Sandra, have driven only 54,000 miles in this car in all it’s years.  But, these miles are a bit more than special as they include attending shows where those sixty-two awards were earned, and a lot of time on road courses and oval tracks all over the southeastern US.  Ed says Sebring, Roebling Road, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway should just about cover the tracks the Corvette has lapped.  Add to this countless day and weekend drives with CCO friends and several trips to the Tennessee, Carolina and North Georgia Mountains - with a detour up or down the Tail of the Dragon along the way when possible.

To top it all, in 2001 along with nineteen other C5 Registry members’ cars on a container ship, this ’99 sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.  Destination: the 2001 Running of LeMans.  While in France and Belgium, this Corvette was driven more than 1300 miles through the countryside, experienced a 150MPH run on a new French toll road and then the ultimate; An unforgettable four laps of the LeMans track “at speed,” as Ed is fond of mentioning.

Ed & Sandra purchased the car new at an MSRP of $39,122, equipped with $345 in options: Power Drivers Seat, Parcel Net and Floor Mats. Soon after, Ed set out to customize the car to make it truly one of a kind - and a show winner.

Ed and Sandra are loyal CCO members and they prove this over and again by volunteering countless hours to organize and conduct back road drives and mystery trips. Over the years, these drives have always been scenic and educational for our members.  Under Ed & Sandra’s guidance, we’ve visited many unique destinations not only with automotive interests in mind, but social, economic and historical significance also.  And, these trips are not only in Florida, but to the entire Southeastern region of the country as well.  We’re grateful for their friendship and the support they provide to CCO.  

Although Ed & Sandra have owned other red Corvettes… (we hear they have plans to add yet another very soon,) we think this Corvette is both a Champion, and a keeper!

CCO's 2015 Derby Weekend Honors "Best Hats!"
CCO's ladies sporting colorful and creative headwear...

         The "Horses Ass"  goes from Rick Woodley to Tom Kinst!          The "Kellie" goes from Debbie Boone to Carol Johnson!

Naples, Florida - On May 1st thru 3rd CCO basked in the sun of Southwest Florida and witnessed yet another "Run For The Roses." Stationed this year at the Bayfront Inn at 5th and the bay, CCO returned to Naples for the first time since 2011. Our first organized event of the weekend was a Naples Princess dinner cruise on Friday evening, touring us along Collier County's prestigious waterside real estate, terminating at Gordon's Pass for a wonderful sunset. Saturday, many of the guys toured an amazing automobile collection at the Rev's Institute, while others sunned at the pool or shopped.  Saturday evening's main event - The Kentucky Derby saw three year old colt - American Pharaoh, win hands down.  Our "Kellie" Award went to Carol Johnson for Best Ladies Derby Hat and the renowned "Horse's Ass" Award now resides in Tom Kinst's trophy case.  After a long weekend of sun and fun, card games, and Derby fun, CCO broke camp Sunday morning, enjoyed breakfast and headed home.  Thanks go Darlene Heber for organizing the event to all our volunteers and board members for their hard work in making this event another success!   

Picnic at DeLeon Springs...
Picnic at DeLeon Springs...
The whole gang at CCO's DeLeon Springs Picnic...

DeLeon Springs, Florida - On May 16, 2015, CCO gathered at the popular DeLeon Springs State Park in Volusia County for a relaxing mid-day chance to get close to nature and spend time with friends.  The springs area has long been occupied by man (with documented artifacts) for over 8000 years and CCO has been glad to carry on the tradition of enjoying it's beauty by visiting here several times over the years for pancake breakfasts at the Old Sugar Mill, also on the property.

          Rich delivers burgers fresh off the grill!                                    Dave and Sandra comparing notes on recent CCO happenings.

CCO volunteers Rich Craig, Wayne LeVesque and Herb Merksamer cooked up burgers and dogs for a main course, while others contributed various homemade recipes to the menu. When the grills finished up we filled our plates and sat under the huge oaks, continuing our

          John in deep contemplation with Barbara and Bob..              Russ and Debi lean in to blow out their birthday candles!

socialization.  For dessert, we celebrated Russ Mello and Debi Ianitelli's birthdays with a huge cake - donated by Russ!! While the all the contributors of time, equipment, ice, covered dishes, desserts, hauling vehicles, grocery store runs and all the gear are to many to name, we want to thank everyone who helped make the event a very big success!

          Russ lights the candes on his and Debi's Birthday Cake!         Wayne shows off some of his road sign collection!?!

Road Trip to the Garden...
Road Trip to the Garden...
View from the upper trails of Devil's Den

Williston, Florida - Saturday morning of May 30, 2015, a beautiful sunny day, the Corvette Club of Orlando set out again to show why it’s the premier Corvette Club in Central Florida. Today, our back roads trip led by the king of road trip planning, Ed Merchut, started off for many of us in Mt. Dora. Venturing north, then east, turning to the west, then a little bit south, and meandering more, CCO finally came to the first rest stop where a few more members joined us.

Devil's Den Falls...

Another fine day with a great back roads drive, hiking trails and then an awesome lunch! With events planned almost every weekend, it’s easy to see why we’re the Most Active Corvette Club in Central Florida. At CCO, our motto is simple - "Friendship, Family, Fun." That’s what we do!

Story and Photos ~ Nick Francoforte

Grouping up for our Hike of Devil's Den

Lori, our guide, led thirty-eight brave CCO’ers on foot trails while she shared the history of the area and how the Devil’s Den originated, as well as how the attraction is maintained on a day to day basis. As we walked along the trails high above the quarry, she explained various points of interest, and called our attention to various exotic plants and shrubs. As the pictures show, beautiful backdrops of plants, water lilies, and abandoned staircases lead from high above to the quarry floor. 

Corvette fans gather at one of our rest stops!

As the caravan grew in numbers, we rolled through beautiful winding roads, crossing through small towns and eventually reached our second rest stop. Then again, even more CCO Corvettes joined our ever-growing numbers! More roads led through breathtaking countryside where horse farms and horse training centers populated the landscape. Beautiful canopies of oak and spectacular scenery lined our leisurely drive toward Williston where we finally arrived at our destination — Devil’s Den, also known as Cedar Lakes Wild Life & Nature Reserve. Nestled in a deeply wooded area lies three limestone quarries that were transformed into a beautiful botanical garden setting complete with overlook trails, gazebos, water falls and ornamental vegetation.

Pools at Devil's Den...

Our tour took more than an hour and at its conclusion, many were very thankful the “hike” of Devil’s Den was over. We then departed for a scrumptious lunch at the Ivy House, a repeat target on the CCO restaurant radar. After food, fun and friendship, the day wound down with everyone parting ways toward their respective homes.

CCO Shows at Winter Park Village
CCO Shows at Winter Park Village
CCO Corvettes line Main Street at the Village - Photos Courtesy of CCO Members at Event - Article by Nick Francoforte

Winter Park - It was the 13th of June and a beautiful Saturday morning with plenty of the sunshine so typical of Florida’s weather this time of the year.  Approximately thirty members of the Corvette Club of Orlando gathered at Nick’s Family Diner for breakfast. Quite a few members meet every Saturday for breakfast, but this wasn’t the typical breakfast crew. Many had come out this fine morning to support the CCO Car Show at Winter Park Village.

CCO Lines both sides of the street!

After a fun-filled breakfast with great conversation and reminiscing of past events, a caravan of Corvettes headed out to the Winter Park Village Shopping Center just off North Orange Ave.  Even more members drove their Corvettes directly to the Village.

Looks like Bob's 60th Anniversary ZR1 beside Harm's Z06 on the corner!

The folks at the Village were set up and ready for our arrival having blocked off a very large area for our cars.  As the vibrant entourage of Corvettes pulled in, they were met by the advance party of Mike Nostro, Nick Francoforte, Steve Jones and BJ LaMontagne, all aiding and directing in getting everyone situated and parked.

The Craig's 2015 & 2013 proudly covering the corner spot..

As you can see in the accompanying photos, there were cars representing most Corvette generations.  We had C1’s, C3’s, C4’s, C5’s, C6’s and some new C7’s. They came in various forms such as coupes, convertibles, Grand Sports, ZR1’s and ZO6’s and even John & Barbara’s special replica of a ’58 done on a C6 chassis. The montage of brilliant Corvette colors was offset by the wondrous backdrop of merchant shops that lined the quaint streets of Winter Park Village. 

Nick's C7 Z06 and Mikes 'Blu-Ray' competing for attention on the corner!

The cars were parked, dusted off, polished and left to the enjoyment and viewing pleasure of the public as the morning progressed. Our members sat and socialized among themselves but had even more fun talking to show visitors and Village customers milling about, ooh’ing and ah’ing each beautiful Corvette masterpiece. 

Although it was a very, very warm day, everyone enjoyed this laid-back car show. The merchants were very gracious — awarding prizes and cash to their favorite participants. 

The Bradham's 58/C6 rear view...

Congrats go to members John and Barbara Bradham for taking two top Merchants Favorites awards, one for their new ’58/C6, a Classic Reflections Coachworks custom built machine, and another for their ’58 Resto-Mod roadster which has now amassed a very large number of awards.

A big and hearty THANK-YOU to the CCO members in participation and to Winter Park Village & their merchants for hosting this great event and another to Mike Nostro for his work with WPV to make it happen!

Palm Ridge Reserve - A 'Taste of Florida' Event
Palm Ridge Reserve - A 'Taste of Florida' Event
The Gang at Florida Farms Distillers - Palm Ridge Reserve...

Umatilla, Florida - Saturday, June 20, 2015 - As most of you know, Prez Mike & Deb moved to Lake County last year.  Since then, Mike has been looking for more northern Lake County places for CCO to explore. Lake is a rural paradise dotted with, you guessed it - lakes - everywhere.  And as we know, Ed builds road-trips along gentle and not-so-gentle bends 

Palm Ridge Reserve

on Florida's back roads and CCO has fun on these 'Taste of Florida' events, touring rail-fenced farmland, motoring around lakes in rural communities, long straight lines in the mining country and tooling through small towns as we make our way to our destination. Well, Mike and Ed - the Master Road-Trip Route Planner outdid themselves again with this one.

On this sunny Saturday June morning, down a nondescript driveway marked by a placard with “PRR” handwritten just for us, over twenty Corvettes gently make there way toward a barn surrounded by green pastures, horses and livestock.  We stage the cars in a huge pasture near the barn and are greeted by Marti and Dick Waters.  We’ve arrived at Florida Farm Distillers  - a micro-distillery creating Palm Ridge Reserve™ (PRR) located on a small cattle farm in north Lake County.

To quote from their website: “Owners Marti and Dick Waters believe that their personal and detailed attention makes Palm Ridge Reserve™ stand out from other mass produced liquors. The boutique operation produces a 

Mike and John discussing various performance characteristics of their new Corvettes...

90 proof, young Florida Bourbon-style whiskey. This limited quantity, select whiskey (only 500 cases per year), is non-chill filtered, mellowed with toasted orange and oak woods, and left to finish in small charred oak barrels. Truly Distinctive!” 

Owners Marti and Dick are the only employees at Florida Farms Distillers and have been in business on the farm for over five years. Dick commented that they host several informal tasting tours and events annually and that we were a very large group for a tour — 

Owner Dick Waters explains his Grain Recipe...

recommending that we split into two groups to learn more about their operation and taste their whiskey.  And, thinking of everything, our hosts had kindly set a table of sweets and bottled water to take care of our appetite and thirst needs. 

We listened intensely as Dick & Marti allowed us to touch and taste sample grains used in their recipe and take in a powerful noseful of vapors arising from their unique fermenting mash.  First demonstrating the proper way to sample whiskey themselves, Dick & Marti then offered our two groups generous samples of Palm Ridge Reserve™, Palm Ridge Virgin™ and Palm Ridge Rye™. They were sure to call attention to specific taste, feel and finish characteristics of these award winning whiskeys.  We all agreed the ‘Grain Forward’ characteristic they seek in their recipe is certainly present, and a welcome difference compared to other mass produced whiskeys.

Nick gets a noseful of vapors coming from the fermenting mash!

After a short visit further along in the barn to see the bottling process and barrel storage, we made our way back out of the distillery.  Many members made purchases of their favorite bottles personally autographed by Dick himself! 

Having really enjoyed our insightful visit with a truly unique Florida Whiskey distiller, we gathered up and

Bonnie and Linda enjoying a Palm Ridge Virgin tasting!

wished our hosts many thanks and good luck for the future and rolled our Corvettes back to the south - destination: downtown Eustis - for a  good lunch set just for CCO at the one-of-a-kind 1884 Restaurant and Bar. 
Mike working his 'Virgin Nose'                                                         Sandi & Dick with her autographed bottle of Palm Ridge Rye

Dick and Marti's handsome display of Signature Whiskeys...

The 1884 is another story all it’s own but just take it from us, the restaurant is a wonderful place to stop for a drink and a meal and time it right and you have live entertainment to boot.

Our thanks go out to Marti and Dick Waters for their generous preparations for CCO’s visit, their Old-Florida country style hospitality and a very thorough tour & tasting of Palm Ridge Reserve! Finally we thank Mike, Ed and John for planning and promoting another wonderful drive, unique destination and a meal enjoyed with CCO Freinds! 

Please take a few moments to visit the very interesting websites of our hosts for this event!
Visit Palm Ridge Reserve
Visit 1884 Restaurant and Bar

Eaton's Beach...  No Longer a Mystery
From Lake Weir's edge, Eaton's Beach spreads far and wide...
Eaton's Beach... No Longer a Mystery

Lake Weir, Florida - Saturday June 27 saw over 20 CCO Corvettes converge on our Mt Dora RaceTrac gathering point.  Another of Ed’s Mystery Lunch rides began with ‘wheels rolling’ at 9:00 AM.  North Lake County became south Marion County as rolling hills, green pastures and more than enough curves brought us to Lake Weir and Eaton’s Beach Sandbar and Grill after just about a 2-hours-total run. 

Eaton’s Beach is a beautiful south Lake Weir waterfront dining, partying, beaching, water sports complex that has historic roots nearly 90 years in the making.  Unknown to most of our group, we heard many comments that Eaton’s would be on a short list of places to return.  Eatons’ award winning Chef Dave Del Rio has developed a “Florisiana™” menu inspired by both Florida and Louisiana cuisine.  We really did enjoy the food!  

After lunch, many CCO’ers found the downstairs bar and kicked back to adult beverages and live music while others strolled the beach to lakeside or sat relaxed and engaged in conversation before we all departed for our return home drives.

Enjoy the below set of photos as we say “Many thanks to Ed for introducing us to yet another great “Taste of Florida” destination!”     

Eaton's Gator watches over the front entrance to the restaurant...
Eaton's extensive boardwalks line the beach...
After lunch CCO'ers found the bar...
End of Summer - A Record Setting Event
End of Summer - A Record Setting Event
Florida's Gulf Beaches are the best!

St. Pete Beach, Florida - It was Friday and “The End of Summer…” weekend - August 28-30, 2015 was getting underway with nearly sixty CCO’ers heading toward Sirata Beach Resort on Florida’s Central Gulf Coast. First stop, hidden deep in south Polk County’s mine country, was Springsong Resort and a great lunch.  Then on to the beach, pools and tiki’s at Sirata.

CCO's Corvettes far and wide at Streamsong Resort for Lunch...

Not to be daunted by the threat of advancing tropical storm Erika, we defied the chances of high winds - only to have clouds and some rain finally push us back to our rooms and then off to dinner.  

The guys neck deep in the Gulf...

On Saturday morning we waded into warm gulf waters and soaked up classic Florida sunshine.  Guys and gals join in conversation and relaxation not worrying with pounding surf like we find on Florida's east coast beaches.  Lot’s of laughter and fun was in order when our Beach Games began mid-afternoon.  Rena, Mike, Darlene and Jim directed Thong-toss, Shark’s & Minnows and Musical Beach Towels. Many thanks go to Darlene & Steve ~ Mizz Realty Group, Jim ~ Stoddard Plumbing,  and to CCO’s treasury for sponsoring the Games!

The "Thong Toss!" Not what you thought uh?

Rich & El contributed a box-full of bubble makers which kept everyone else busy blowing and dodging huge floating globes of soapy fun! Then a little more rain and clearing, then, on to Crabby Bills for drinks and a wonderful seafood dinner.  Heard over the intercom as we were summoned to find our seats was the announcement “CCO Group of Sixty - Your table is ready!!”  After 8:00 PM both evenings brought lots of laughter as many members gathered in a room set aside for CCO to play cards, enjoy libations & snacks - all well past mid-night!

Jim & Sandi play "Sharks & Minnows" - Featuring classic plumbing equipment...
Musical Towels! No chairs - just fun!
While waiting in the bar, we hear on the intercom "CCO - Party of Sixty! Your Table is Ready!"

Sunday morning skies were a bit darker than normal due to the leftovers from tropical storm Erika.  Lot’s of members gathered in small groups and enjoyed breakfast, caught some final rays on the beach and then said their goodbye’s.  Thanks go to Rena for organizing the weekend - Awesome Weekend Rena!  Thanks to John for contracting and publicizing the event, no one does it better!  Thanks to Ed for great Florida backroads turn-by-turn drives, no one does it better!  Thanks again to our member-sponsors for helping us ‘fund the fun!’  And finally, thanks to our membership for participating in a record-setting event!  We believe this was our most-attended weekend event ever and we couldn’t do these events if it wasn’t for you - the ”Most Active Corvette Club in Florida…” - CCO ~ Friendship, Family and Fun!   Click Here to view Event Gallery and check out member contributions and comments at CCO's Facebook Group Page!  

CCO's Annual Christmas Party Extravaganza!
CCO's Annual Christmas Party Extravaganza!

Gabby's - Clermont - CCO's Annual Christmas Party was the place to be on Friday the 11th of December.  The above photo proves we had a great time of socialization, dining and dancing. Gabby's did a great job with the food, bar and service and our DJ spun the tunes! CCO's member-volunteers across the year were recognized and we awarded our 2015 Corvette of the Year to Rich and El Craig.   Thanks go to almost 90 members for participating and helping CCO celebrate another great CCO year! 

We're sending best wishes to an awesome group of Members, Sponsors and CCO friends this holiday season! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

CCO's Double Gold Sponsor - Nick's Family Diner!!



  • Tony's Chowder House
    622 N Donnelly St
    Mount Dora, Florida  32625
    (352) 729-2835

CCO - Lifetime Business Member
Friendship, Family, Fun!


Stoneybrook West Country Club

15501 Towne Commons Blvd

Winter Garden, Fl


 Meetings are the third Wednesday of the month.

Dinner service begins at 5:00 pm and the meeting starts at 6:30 pm. Watch your email for notices regarding upcoming meetings. 

Come visit us to see what we are all about

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