RIVERVIEW — Morelli's Italian Ice opened only about six weeks ago, but owner Joseph Morelli said he can already tell it's going to catch on.
"When someone from the Bronx, N.Y., comes in and says 'Let me try your chocolate,' and he raves about it, you know you've got something," Morelli said. "And when customers come in and they're ice cream or yogurt people who have never tasted a real Italian ice, and they come back, you know the business is going to grow."
The shop, in Winthrop Town Centre next to Regions Bank, serves a different kind of Italian ice than most Floridians are used to, Morelli said.
Many people outside the New York area think of Italian ice as a cup full of ice chips with fruit-flavored syrup squirted onto it. Let it sit for a few minutes and the syrup pools at the bottom of the cup and you've got pure ice on top.
The Italian ice at Morelli's is blended so that the flavor is infused into the ice and stays consistent. And it has a smooth consistency that's more like ice cream than those chipped-ice concoctions, Morelli said. But it doesn't have fat or cholesterol, so Morelli said it's healthier than ice cream.
Morelli had a successful career in sales, but in recent years had been discussing the idea of an Italian ice shop with his family. After the family moved to the Brandon area from Long Island last year and saw how many former New Yorkers lived here, they decided this area was the perfect place to offer real New York-style Italian ice. Morelli, his wife, their son and their son's fiancee opened Morelli's on Jan. 11.
Morelli's offers 24 flavors of Italian ice. It's open from noon until 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon until 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (813) 597-3045.
Helicopter company offers photos, tours
PLANT CITY — The slow economy has hurt a lot of businesses, and Tampa Helicopter Services was no exception.
Owner David Edwards said that aerial photographers had always been among his most frequent clients. But in recent months, he noticed that part of his business was slacking off.
He realized the problem was that aerial photography can be prohibitively expensive, so he came up with a way to cut the cost by a third.
His new company, Tampa Aerial Photography, was born last month.
Edwards, an experienced photographer who considered an art career before he discovered aviation, designed and built a camera system that allows him to take photographs while he's piloting his helicopter.
That saves customers significant money, he said.
"Normally, aerial photographers (charge) $300 an hour, and the helicopter costs $600 an hour," Edwards said. "This allows us to just charge a regular rate for the helicopter, with no additional charge for the photographer."
Both the helicopter service and the aerial photography company are based at the Plant City airport. From that location, Edwards said, he can finish many photography assignments in Hillsborough County within half an hour.
Through Tampa Helicopter Services, Edwards also offers aerial tours of the Tampa area. For $300, up to three people can enjoy a half-hour helicopter ride over the Brandon-South Shore area and much of Tampa.
For information, visit tampaaerialphotography.com or call (813) 986-3724.
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