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Lonni's creator opens Loon Lake Cafe in Tampa

Teena Slocum, owner of La Di Da Interiors/Consignment Boutique, left, has moved from the spot next to Li Da La.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Teena Slocum, owner of La Di Da Interiors/Consignment Boutique, left, has moved from the spot next to Li Da La.

WEST SHORE — Not long after moving to Pinellas County from her beloved Minnesota in 1987, Lonni Whitchurch opened a small cafe in Dunedin. She quickly gained a loyal following for her super-fresh sandwiches, piled high on signature wild rice bread and served with a side of Minnesota kitsch.

Lonni's grew to five locations over the years. In July she sold them after receiving an offer "out of the blue" for the entire business. "My name is still on it," she said. "I wish (the new owners) all kinds of success."

Whitchurch said she had no plans to run a restaurant again. "But people know me and know what I do, and somebody came to me and said, 'We found this little place.' And the people who owned the building are from Minnesota …"

And so Loon Lake Cafe was born. In January Whitchurch and her husband, Ron, opened a 1,000-square-foot eatery in the Lincoln Center building at 5401 W Kennedy Blvd., catering to the 700 or so people who work there.

Some items are similar to what she served at Lonni's, though the names and some ingredients have changed. Other favorites are missing — the wild rice bread and wild rice soup, for example, stayed with Lonni's.

Whitchurch said she developed new recipes, many of them heartier fare, such as meatball hoagies, Cuban sandwiches and corned beef.

Specialty items include the True Bleu Salad with walnuts, Mandarin oranges, crumbled bleu cheese, Minnesota dried blueberries, tomato and cucumber on Romaine, drizzled with bright blue citrus-flavored dressing; and the Nuthatch sandwich with bleu cheese spread, pistachios, turkey and roasted red peppers. Everything, including breads and soups, is made from scratch, Whitchurch said.

Loon Lake Cafe is open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its Web site is www.loonlakecafe.com.

Consignment shop caters to kids 6 to 18

When her two children were younger, Christina Hendry loved browsing local kids' consignment stores, but she found that most of them catered to the preschool set.

Last month Hendry, a former lawyer and mom to 6- and 8-year-olds, launched her own store selling consignment clothes and other items for kids 6 to 18. The 650-square-foot store, Not Too Shabby Kids, is in a well-trafficked retail center at 4025 Henderson Blvd. near Neptune Avenue.

"I've been thinking of it (for a few years) and, with the economy, I thought it would be a good time to start it," Hendry said.

Adults may have stopped buying for themselves for now, she said, but it's hard to stop buying for kids. "They grow so fast."

Hendry's store consigns casual clothing as well as prom dresses, homecoming dresses and seasonal items. She is aiming to carry higher-end items from brands such as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Quiksilver, Abercrombie and Lilly Pulitzer, as well as game systems, skateboards and sports equipment.

Hours in the early weeks have been limited, but by mid April the store will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 to 2 Saturday.

Cork & Olive location has closed for good

Don't look for a second comeback for the Cork & Olive wine retail store at 1108 S Dale Mabry.

The store was one of eight corporate locations to close last June after the company failed to secure about $3 million in financing. The South Tampa store reopened in October after the parent company came under a new ownership group called the New Wine Group. But business apparently fizzled quickly after the holidays, and Cork & Olive filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Contents of the South Tampa store and another corporate store, as well as the company's distribution center, were liquidated in February by Bay Area Auction Services.

Several Cork & Olive franchise stores — all of which have severed ties with corporate ownership — remain open, including locations in Carrollwood and Brandon.

La Di Da and Li Da La are splitsville

La Di Da and Li Da La, two consignment shops with nearly identical names but different owners, have coexisted side by side in Tampa for two years.

Now La Di Da has moved across the street to 3635 Henderson Blvd. Owner Teena Slocum says her new space is smaller but cheerier, and easy to spot. She is still selling clothes, handbags, small furnishings and jewelry that she makes. She also offers interior design, painting and wardrobe consultation services. She has been in business for 15 years.

Store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Times Staff Writer John Barry contributed to this report. Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

Lonni's creator opens Loon Lake Cafe in Tampa 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:30am]
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