Old Spanish Sugar Mill has verbal commitment to keep doors open

Restaurant opened in 1961

DELEON SPRINGS, Fla. – It looks like the griddles will stay on at one popular pancake house in Volusia County.

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill at DeLeon Springs State Park has been operating as a concession for the Florida Park Service since 1961, but up until last week, the owner was worried that her family-run restaurant could close because her renewal with the state was close to expiring and her requests were going unanswered.

Owner Patty Schwarze on Monday told News 6, though, that last week she finally heard back and was given a verbal extension, but has yet to see anything in writing.

"We have guarded optimism," Schwarze told News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth. "A week ago Friday, we got the verbal commitment to begin writing the agreement."

Schwarze, who's been in charge of the restaurant since 1980, believes that it was her customers' emails and calls to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that "got the proverbial ball rolling."

"The support from our customers was incredible," she said. "Who knows if they would've considered it without them?"

Schwarze also told News 6 that the restaurant has seen an influx of patrons since she went public with the possibility of it closing.

"More and more people are coming in, whether it's to show their support or thinking it could be their last time here," she said.

However, because nothing is in writing, Schwarze says some of her staff is still insecure and have either found new jobs or are currently looking for one.

If a deal is not done by September 30, the restaurant must close its doors.

Schwarze continues to ask fans of Old Sugar Mill to reach out to the DEP in support of keeping the restaurant open.

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