Old Spanish Sugar Mill at DeLeon Springs State Park might be closing

Restaurant opened in 1961

DELEON SPRINGS, Fla. – A well-known restaurant praised for its pancakes could be closing its doors.

It's the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House, tucked inside DeLeon Springs State Park.

"My parents started the restaurant in 1961 and I've operated it since 1980," said Patty Schwarze, owner.

"They sit at a table that has a griddle recessed in the center and they make their own pancakes," said Schwarze.

"The place is great. It's a nice family atmosphere. My kids love it. They love coming here and make their own pancakes. Of course, you get to enjoy the nice, cold water," said Travis Proveaux.

The restaurant 's owner said has seen generations of families throughout the years.

"They've been doing some 15, 20, 25 years. So, we're really part of their family traditions," said Schwarze.

But those family traditions may soon be coming to an end.

"The restaurant operates as a concession for the Florida Parks Service. Every five years or so, they have to offer us an opportunity to continue doing business or make a decision that they want someone else to do business here," said Schwarze.

The owner said she's been requesting renewal since January, but hasn't heard a peep, and without a contract, the pancake house could close as early as September 30.

"I'm really concerned. I can't continue to bring in inventory for winter tourist season, assure folks that they will have jobs, without some sort of assurance that we can continue," she said.

"I think they should definitely be able to stay. This is a part of history!" said Proveaux.

"We bring in a lot of good will, a lot of revenue to the park and all we're looking for is some assurance that we can continue to do this," said Schwarze.
We're just a little portion of what makes Deleon Springs so unique and so fun."

News 6 called the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and asked about the agreement renewal. They responded with this email:

"The department works closely with concessionaires at many of Florida’s 174 state parks. Our current concessionaire at De Leon Springs State Park has a contract that is valid through the end of September, 2017. Currently, we are working to extend this contract and staff are working to schedule a meeting with the company’s representatives this week to discuss the contract. "

If you'd like to show your support, the restaurant's owner is asking customers to email or call:

Florida State Parks
Tallahassee 850-245-2157

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.