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Over Coffee

I’ve Found Another New Place For Us to Meet
Jan 15, 2009 - 8:53:09 AM

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I’ve found that most people I run into have made at least one New Year’s resolution.

I don’t make them anymore.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that if I try to set something in stone– like, “I’m not ever going to eat any more chocolate” or, “I’m going to go to the gym four times a week,” I soon find life too chaotic to remember (let alone stick to) my goals.

Since too-high expectations always set me up for disappointment, it’s been years since I’ve tried to make a real, set-in-stone goal. When I say “set-in-stone,” I’m referring to things I’ve done like quitting a 28-year, pack-and-a-half a day, smoking habit cold turkey in 1987.

Now that’s a rule I “set in stone.” I know if I ever pick up one cigarette, I’ll immediately buy a pack so I stay away from tobacco altogether. That’s the way it has to be, and I accept it as a fact.  

I’ve found that I can accomplish some things by making small changes. This year, one of the things I want to do gradually is find more places to drop by for coffee or a meal so I can include them in this column. So if any of you out there know of a coffee shop, café, small eatery or even a group that gathers regularly somewhere (a backyard, porch or workplace will do just fine) please let me know if I may join them and listen to what’s on their mind.

As the old Buddhist Proverb says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and I’ve learned so many things from so many people that I’m always ready to hear from someone new. I learn something from just about everybody I meet.

Last week, for instance, I was made aware of the new Sun City Café located in Sun City Center Plaza near Save-a-Lot.

Domingo and Sue Grande, owners of the Sun City Café,1617 Sun City Center Plaza, relax before the lunch rush begins. The couple started the family business a year ago despite fears of a slow-down in the economy and set a good example of what can be accomplished when you combine creativity with hard work. Penny Fletcher Photo
  I didn’t even know there was a café there or I’d have tried it long ago. So I made an appointment to ask the owners, Sue and Domingo Grande, if I could meet people there for interviews once and awhile.

Not surprisingly – because people fascinate me, I guess – I ended up interviewing the Grandes while I was there.

I found the family amazing. In the first place, the never-before business owners opened the restaurant in August when many longtime business owners were saying the economy was too risky to keep their doors open.

Sue, who had a secure position as an accountant, left that job to become the business end of the enterprise, while her husband handles the food – from planning and preparation to overseeing (and sometimes preparing) it himself.
He’s always wanted his own restaurant, having started out working as a dish washer in 1992 and working his way up through every position in restaurant kitchens.

“Whenever someone on the (food) line was out I’d offer to fill in, sometimes for free, just for the experience. I learned about food, and recipes, and would put new twists on what other people cooked,” he said proudly. “What was really the big deal though was how my wife left her job to help me. I knew I couldn’t do that part of it myself. She had a good job and gave it up not knowing what would happen.”
The couple has four children, three of which help in the restaurant.

“One is a cook and two are waitresses,” Domingo said. “The only one not working is our 6-year-old daughter.

“We’re very glad that John Gattoline leased the space to us when there were so many other applicants,” he added. “We never would have had this chance without him.”

The Sun City Café is located at 1617 Sun City Center Plaza and is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s also a great place just to stop by and relax over coffee so why not send me an e-mail?

*Perhaps you have something you’d like to share. Or maybe you’d rather tell the community about your favorite charity or cause: or sound off about something you think needs change. That’s what “Over Coffee” is about. It really doesn’t matter whether we actually drink any coffee or not (although I probably will). It’s what you have to say that’s important. E-mail me,, any time and suggest a meeting place. No matter what’s going on, I’m usually available to share just one more cup.

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