TRINITY — John McGregor bought a beer kit in college, which marked the start of a hobby — brewing beer.
Creating ale became a passion he shared with his brother-in-law, Matt Thompson, 39. So, brewing equipment eventually crowded McGregor's three-car garage.
"I couldn't get one car in there," McGregor, 41, said.
He had a choice: Store the equipment elsewhere or use it to start a business. McGregor, who worked in software sales at the time, chose the latter....
NEW PORT RICHEY — While Eric Mullins' mom worked as a lifeguard when he was a kid, she couldn't afford the cost of music instruction for him. So she struck a deal with a pianist.
The woman provided "piano lessons for my mom's kid, and my mom gave her kids swimming lessons," said Mullins, 37, now a music teacher at Genesis Preparatory School and co-owner of a music school called Mullins Music....
LUTZ — For a while, Moses Medina didn't like having his picture taken.
"You could see my shiny scalp," he said.
Medina, 52, who now co-owns Vive Naturals, had alopecia, a kind of hair loss that resulted in a couple of bald spots.
So, 22 years ago, a friend suggested Medina use what his friend's grandmother used to undo her hair loss: allium — garlic and onion.
He minced the garlic and onion in his kitchen, mixed them with warm water and applied the mixture to his scalp, almost daily. A few months later, hair showed up where there hadn't been any....
ZEPHYRHILLS — When artist Fran Byers house-sat for a Zephyrhills couple last year, she used a vacant room in the home as a studio. There, she painted.
The space, in which the homeowner once ran a health and wellness business, was "a bright venue with a lot of Zen" — the perfect place for an art gallery, Byers, 57, said to the homeowner.
"Go for it," the homeowner told her....
PORT RICHEY — For three years, Curtis Frantz served as a scout in the U.S. Army. Then he worked in food and beverage sales. Then, his mother-in-law made a suggestion.
Why don't you become a butcher?
"A light bulb came on," said Frantz, 30, who now owns Your Family Butcher with his wife, Amanda, 28.
"My grandfather was a butcher for 60 years," said Frantz. "I spent a lot of time in his shops. I grew up hunting and fishing with him, and he taught me how to process my own meat."...
NEW PORT RICHEY — As the longtime owner a roof-cleaning company, Dante Rodriguez has rubbed elbows with lots of homeowners associations and with homeowners. He has learned about their concerns.
"The spray-paint guys," said Rodriguez, 49 — the ones he says show up to paint people's house numbers onto their driveways.
So Rodriguez did some research. And because of what he learned, he started another business: Bay Area Thermoplastics, which manufactures reflective curb markers that display a homeowner's house number and are an alternative to spray paint....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Next week, Wheelchair/Stretcher Limo, a non-emergency transportation service, will celebrate its 30th anniversary, a milestone that makes its founder, JoLynn Spivey, proud.
In 1985, Spivey, now 57, worked as an emergency medical technician for an ambulance company in Pinellas County. There, she started a non-emergency unit to transport patients whose conditions weren't critical....
DADE CITY — Five months after Robert Schultz retired, a fire destroyed the uninsured double-wide mobile home he called home.
In the fire's stressful wake, a friend of Schultz, 67, made an observation: He needed to relax.
His friend suggested yoga. So Schultz took a yoga class at a studio attached to a frame shop, called the Custom Frame Store, which his yoga instructor owned.
"I walked in (to the frame store) and told her this brought me full circle," he said. "I had learned framing in college to work my way through school."...
Spotlight | Florida Professional Motorcycle Training
PORT RICHEY — Dave Cruz's first crash on a motorcycle, in 1981, shook him. The recovery after his second crash, in 1997, took a year. But it wasn't until 2004 that Cruz took his first class on how to properly and safely operate a motorcycle.
What he learned prompted a question, said Cruz, 59, who now owns Florida Professional Motorcycle Training: "How the heck did I stay alive on a bike for 35 years?"...
NEW PORT RICHEY — When the owners of a Main Street produce market decided in 2008 to turn it into a cafe and creamery called Market Off Main, they picked an unlikely place to put it: in a run-down house.
"It had been unoccupied for several years," said Jerry Kuss, 72, who found the building and now co-owns the business with Rose Mohr, 67.
"It didn't look very inviting from the front," Mohr said. "It was a location that was not appreciated (by the public)."...
04/16/15 Human Interest
Sister Miriam Cosgrove peeled back the black plastic tarp that covered a 250-gallon fish tank. The tilapia inside swam to the surface. "A feeding frenzy," Cosgrove, 73, said as the fish fought for each pellet of food that the Catholic sister dropped into the water.
The tank is one of 10 in the greenhouse next to Holy Name Monastery, installed in December so Cosgrove, who will have been a Benedictine nun for 55 years this summer, could minister to the world in a new way: with aquaponics — "a sustainable, self-sufficient fish farm."...
NEW PORT RICHEY — On the stage at Merlin's Theater, David Evangelista entertains each audience with what he has practiced for decades: magic.
A year and a half ago, the 53-year-old illusionist and magic shop owner opened the 65-seat venue — a place where he and other magicians can perform the tricks Evangelista first picked up as a kid.
When Evangelista was 9 years old, his grandmother bought him a deck of magic cards. Then he got a magic set....
WESLEY CHAPEL — In a 24-foot-long truck called Americanwiener, Ben Laffey lives his dream: making hot dogs.
Laffey, 39, co-owns the food truck with his wife, Amy, and has earned the distinguished title of "wiener creation genius."
His penchant for using toppings to turn grilled dogs into gourmet meals was preceded by a decade in a corporate job. The journey started while he studied at the California School of Culinary Arts....
As a colleague and I crossed the parking lot at the Port Richey bureau of the Tampa Bay Times, he pointed at the bumper sticker on my car's rear windshield.
He read it aloud: "Chastity is for lovers."
He furrowed his brow and tilted his head, perplexed by what he had read.
"How can chastity be for lovers if it means you can't have sex?" he asked.
What I said surprised him:...
NEW PORT RICHEY — On Anclote Key in 2002, Wendy Longman and her husband met a retired aerospace engineer from San Diego. He had a goal: to charter sailboats as a business.
"You know how to sail; we know how to market," Longman, 46, said she told him.
Her husband, Bruce Longman, worked in marketing, so the couple helped him start Windsong Sailing and Fishing Charters.
But "the 2004 hurricanes weren't nice to him," Longman said, and he also was going through a divorce....