DE LEON SPRINGS, Fla. – The Old Spanish Sugar Mill, a breakfast restaurant in De Leon Springs, is set to close its doors after 61 years, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The business announced Monday evening that the state decided to not renew its contract, instead moving forward with another concession in the De Leon Springs State Park.
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“We have been blessed to serve as a Central Florida staple since 1961,” the Old Spanish Sugar Mill’s post reads. “We sincerely thank you for making us your ‘go-to’ for when you’ve got company or a chocolate chip pancake craving. Thank you again for sharing those memories with us. The Sugar Mill was without a doubt the coolest breakfast restaurant in America.”
John Michaelos, owner of the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, said he submitted the bid to keep the business running several months ago and was outbid by another concessionaire.
“It’s all about the highest bidder. It’s really a money thing and we’ve been doing this for a very long time and it’s just going to change hands,” Michaelos said. “We’ve created this. This is so unique to us. What the new concessionaire does, I really don’t know. They’re mandated to create a unique dining experience, but it’s up to them to do that.”
The restaurant touts itself for having griddles equipped at each of its guest tables, which staff use to make pancakes in front of customers.
The pancakes also come with an assortment of to-order ingredients, including blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, pecans, chocolate chips, apples and apple sauce.
“Everybody in the community knows about it. We get people from all over the world that come so it’s a big, big deal,” Michaelos said. “Thanks to everybody and I mean that sincerely.”
And the community of customers Michaelos mentioned are equally heartbroken.
“The pancakes are fantastic. That’s definitely one of the big things for me,” said Paul Allen, a customer who lives in Edgewater. “Everybody’s so used to it. It’s a shame that it has to close. It’s got such a history. It’s been so many different things over the years.”
Melissa Bryan and her family even ventured to Old Spanish Sugar Mill from Jacksonville to experience it before it shut down.
“You come and cook your own pancakes. We’ve been looking forward to it all summer,” she said. “Maybe they’ll try and keep it the same. It seems like a lot of people come and enjoy it. I know the kids really enjoy it.”
The business’ website said its last few weeks will be “extremely busy,” and so all food service will be first-come-first-served. As a result, the business said it will not be able to accept reservations.
“All I can say is come early. We’re going to get full quick and we’re not going to be able to accommodate everybody’s who’s going to want to eat here,” Michaelos said. “There’s only one Old Spanish Sugar Mill. That’s for sure.”
According to the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees state parks, Guest Services, Inc., will take over as the new concessionaire for De Leon Springs State Park, though the mill itself will remain.
“The restaurant’s famous cook-your-own pancakes will still be available in the authentic, sugar mill building overlooking one of Florida’s most beautiful natural settings,” the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees state parks, said in a statement.
The restaurant said the business is set to close on Sept. 12.
For more information or to view the restaurant’s menu, visit their website here.
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