A breakfast sandwich, with a side of nostalgia

When Laura Lewis saw the Dunkin’ Donuts going up on U.S. 41, in Lutz, she couldn’t wait until it opened,

She wanted to enjoy a bite to eat there, and to reminisce.

So, once the shop opened, at 17514 U.S. 41, she and her friend Carolyn Smith headed over there for breakfast.

Laura Lewis, left, and Carolyn Smith enjoy breakfast and share memories of Laura Lewis’ dad, who once operated a real estate office on the spot now occupied by a new Dunkin’ Donuts, on U.S. 41 in Lutz.
(B.C. Manion)

The shop serves hot coffee, iced coffee, hot tea, iced tea, espresso-based drinks, sandwiches, donuts and other bakery items.

Alex DaSilva, director of operations, said the shop chose that location because the area is experiencing residential and commercial growth, and Dunkin’ Donuts likes to get in on the front end of new development.

“It’s an up-and-coming market,” DaSilva said.

Lewis said she knows her dad, George M. Lewis, who spent his final years in Lutz, would be happy to see how the spot where he had his real estate office is being put to use.

He’d be glad to see that a family-oriented business is operating there, Lewis said.

Her dad was originally from the Kansas/Missouri area, she said.

He did various kinds of work through the years, said Smith, who has been a friend of Lewis’ for more than 30 years.

“He worked for the shipyard first,” Smith said.

“Then, from the shipyard, he did dredging,” she said. The dredging work involved area canals, and dredging for pipelines in South America, Smith added.

He also got into ranching and real estate.

At one point, he had 1,000 acres in Tarpon Springs, Lewis said. He also had 10 acres on Gunn Highway, in Citrus Park.

Lewis recalls helping her dad, when she was young.

“I used to trail my dad around all of the time, handing him tools and driving the tractor,” she said.

When she was older, she went to work for Maas Bros., earning $28 a week, but decided that wasn’t the life for her.

“I went out at lunchtime and joined the Army,” she said. She enlisted for three years, but had to stay longer because of the Korean War.

After that, she used her G.I. Bill to get her education and then became an industrial arts teacher, teaching woodshop in New Jersey for 35 years before retiring to Lutz.

Smith, whose mother was Lewis’ mother’s best friend, has been a close friend for more than three decades. The women share a home in Lutz.

Lewis’ mother, Smith said, “was like my mother’s sister.”

Both women were enjoying a trip down memory lane during their recent Dunkin’ Donuts visit.

At one point, Lewis’ dad had a huge sign in front of his real estate business on U.S 41, Smith recalled

People would pay him to use the sign for advertising.

“It was 20 (feet) to 30 feet high,” Smith said. “When they would come and put an advertisement on it, he would tell them: ‘No alcohol, no tobacco, nothing offensive,’” Smith said.

“He went to Lutz Baptist, right down the street, and he said, ‘My people see that and I want something nice on the sign,’” she explained. “One time they put up a cigarette ad. He called, and they came and took it down right away.”

When Dunkin’ Donuts was under construction, they had to keep the sign on the property — it was planted too deep into the ground for them to remove it, Smith said.

“I was here when they put it in. It has to be cemented in about 15 feet deep. It’ll never come out,” Smith said.

“They tried to get it out of the ground and they couldn’t, so they just built the Dunkin’ Donuts sign around it,” she said.

“A piece of him is always here,” Smith said.

Published March 8, 2017

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