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photo / Jarine Dotson

Daydreamers to Honor Veterans, Military, and First Responders

in news

Chris Wicks has lived in the U.S. for over 35 years. He opened Daydreamers Café & Grill almost two years ago and it didn’t take long for locals to adopt it as a favorite hangout for breakfast and lunch. Folks return for the food, but there is another factor that brings them back again and again: Wicks and the Daydreamers staff treat their customers like family.

“I’m very proud of my heritage, being from England, but I’m honored and blessed to be able to live here,” Wicks says. “I don’t take it for granted. This is a wonderful country and Safety Harbor is a wonderful town.”

Wicks is known to take a break from the kitchen to check on diners, often asking “Did you get enough to eat?”

Weekends are the busiest and he has never been open on a Monday. This Veterans Day, he wants to do something special for veterans, military personnel, and first responders. On Monday, November 11, he will open his doors and close the street. He will set up tables and chairs outside to accommodate what he hopes will be a huge turnout.  

“For all veterans, military personnel, and first responders, we’re going to offer our Good Morning Sunshine breakfast for free. It’s a way of saying thank you for your service. The breakfast includes sausage, bacon, eggs, potatoes, and toast, plus coffee or juice.”

He’s not sure how many will come out. The restaurant seats 28 inside and the outdoor patio seats 23, but by closing off the street he’s ready to serve hundreds of free breakfasts that day.

“We’d like to make this an annual occurrence,” he says. “It’s the military and the first responders who allow us to enjoy the life and freedoms we have.”

photo/ Jarine Dotson

Daydreamers will be open from 7 a.m. and will close at 11 a.m., so people can attend the Veterans Day memorial ceremony at the marina. The City of Safety Harbor, American Legion Post 238, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10093, will present a salute to all who have served and are currently serving our country.

If you want breakfast and you’re not a vet, in the military, or a first responder, Wicks will offer a Good Morning Sunshine breakfast for $10. And he wants first responders to know they’re welcome to grab their meal to go if they need to.  

Wicks is absorbing the cost of all the food. His employees are volunteering their time and there are many customers who will be there to help make it a successful event, such as like off-duty city employees, the Chamber of Commerce, artists and writers from SHAMc, as well as other community members. Kids from Safety Harbor Elementary School will be handing out thank you cards to those being honored throughout the morning.

“My goal is to serve five-hundred people in four hours,” he says.  “We’re all really looking forward to it.”

Note: Daydreamers is located at 143 7th Ave. N. Safety Harbor, FL 34695 / Veterans Memorial Park is located at 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695

Cafe Vino Tinto in Safety Harbor, April 2019. (Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

Gluten Free Dining Options in Safety Harbor

in news/town square

by Scarlet Burton

We all know Safety Harbor has delicious places to eat. But are they gluten free? I have been to a lot of restaurants in Safety Harbor. They were all really good. But last year my family and I found out that I had celiac disease. I can’t eat gluten. If I do, I get really sick.

Last summer I went  to writing camp at SHAMc. I ended up finding two gluten free restaurants that changed my life.

Cafe Vino Tinto

I was very excited when I got to camp on Monday. I love to write. SHAMc was a really cool place. Then on Tuesday, the director of the camp told everyone something exciting. They wanted us to learn how to use all our senses in our writing. We took a walk around the block and tried to use our senses as much as we could as we jotted down notes. However, we couldn’t use our sense of taste yet. And so the next day everyone was told that we were going to try food or drinks from two different restaurants.  First, we went to Cafe Vino Tinto. It was a cute little place. The people were really nice and they let us sit wherever we wanted. Everyone including me wanted to sit outside. So we chose a rather large table with five or six chairs.

Scarlet and her dad enjoying Father’s Day at Cafe Vino Tinto
(Photo/Scarlet’s mom)

Then a server came up to our table and set down two giant jugs of lemonade. I guess one of the counselors had already ordered. Both lemonades smelled good. I asked what type of lemonade it was. I  knew that each jug contained a different type. Then all the kids were taught that one was regular lemonade and the other was guava. I tried both. They were so good! I also learned that the cafe had other gluten free things too: A breakfast brownie, waffles, they had all kinds of gluten free breakfasts.

When we left the cafe, I was feeling pretty happy about the lemonade.

Then the week after,  my family and I went back there for my dad’s Father’s Day breakfast.  Everything was good there. It was pretty cool!

Daydreamers Cafe & Grill

After the camp leader took us to Cafe Vino Tinto, we walked back in the direction of SHAMc. I didn’t know what was going on since I was told we were going to two restaurants. Just as I was about to ask where we were going I heard a counselor say, “here we are,” and I turned around and saw it: a medium sized rectangular building stood right in front of me. It had unicorns, narwhals, and all sorts of other things painted on its sides. I had seen it before on my way to SHAMc a couple of times. But I didn’t know it was where we were going to eat. When we got to the front of the place I saw a cute little chair standing next to the door. It was an interesting place. Then I turned and saw lots of little tables shaded by brightly colored umbrellas.

Scarlet in front of Daydreamers (Photo/Scarlet’s mom)

We went inside and were greeted by lots of nice people. We were told to look around and write down things that we noticed including the ceiling. I looked up. The ceiling was covered with clouds! And each one had a different encouraging note on it. It was so cool! Then I gave the rest of the place a good look. Everything shone with bright, happy colors. We also got to meet the owner. He was very kind and said that it was always his dream to open a restaurant and that’s why he named it Daydreamers. Then he led us to the outside tables and we sat down. He told us what we were having. It was a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap and crackers. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have anything. But to my surprise the owner said he had a gluten free wrap made just for me. When they brought out the food, I was pretty hungry. I took a bite. It was really good. I was given some fruit to make up for the crackers. I was very happy. When we left Daydreamers I was feeling good. Then about two months later my mom decided that we should go back to Daydreamers. Nothing had changed. It was still really great. I’m so excited to go again!

Southern Fresh

Scarlet Burton at Southern Fresh (Photo/Scarlet’s Mom)

It’s nice to know there are places in Safety Harbor that have gluten free choices and understand celiac disease. After I discovered these two places, I also wanted to know if there were more. So my mom took me to Southern Fresh. My family and I went there for dinner and the food was outstanding. But that was before we found out I had celiac. My mom wasn’t sure if it had gluten free or not until my mom decided to look it up. Surprisingly, they had lots of gluten free options. When we got to Southern Fresh we were greeted by a friendly man who pointed out all the options that were and weren’t gluten free.

Then my mom ended up ordering shrimp cocktail and coleslaw. The food was very good. The shrimp were plump and juicy. I really liked their coleslaw. The dressing in it flooded my mouth with happiness. I think all three places are wonderful. They all had very kind people and good service. I think everyone should give them a try! 

Scarlet Burton is a nine year old girl in fourth grade. She is very involved in her school’s gifted and music programs including Drum/ORF, chorus and multicultural club. While she has enjoyed trying various activities, she has a passion for playing the guitar, singing, equestrian riding and especially writing. Her love of writing began when she was five and she spends much of her free time creating books, plays and instrumental pieces for her guitar. She also has interesting in advocating for endangered animals as well as volunteering for and being involved in different charities. She hopes to one day be a wildlife conservationist and continue to write and play music.

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