Eatery changes hands

Owners of Floyd's Diner purchase Vinny's in Alachua

Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 11:48 p.m.
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Shown from left are Christine Davis and Keith Miller (former owners of Vinny's), Mike Kearney, Judi Kearney and Tara McDermott. Not shown is Carol Doherty, the new owner of Vinny's, which will be renamed Deneno's.

Special to The Sun
High Springs' restaurateurs are expanding into the Alachua market this month in a whirlwind acquisition.
The four owners of Floyd's Diner - Carol Doherty, Tara McDermott and Mike and Judi Kearney - purchased Vinny's in downtown Alachua Dec. 9, only one week after Doherty heard that Vinny's might be for sale. At midnight on Dec. 10, Keith Miller turned over his keys to the Italian restaurant he started four years earlier.
For Doherty, the purchase of the restaurant is a dream come true and will be a tribute to her grandmother who taught her to cook.
The restaurant will be called Deneno's, Doherty's maiden name, and will feature upscale northern Italian food. Doherty is a master chef who received her training in Italy.
"I am creating the concept, the menu, and I'll be there every night." said Doherty, who is the executive chef at Floyd's.
McDermott, general manager and chef, will stay at Floyd's while Doherty gets Deneno's ready for opening sometime around the first of April. The renovations include upgrading the floors, walls and kitchen.
Doherty said she also hopes to eventually install a wood-burning pizza oven right in the middle of the dining room. The restaurant will initially be open only for dinner with plans to increase hours within six months.

Early days at the Priest

Janice Sheffield, owner of the Priest Theater in High Springs, recently had a visit from a man who now lives in Newberry.
Henry Thomson, 80, grew up in High Springs and remembers helping out at the Priest before it was a movie theater. When Thomson was about 10 years old, traveling theater troupes would come into town and perform at the Priest, which had been built originally by a car dealer for storage.
The Priest Theater began showing when Thomson was 12 or 13, but live shows were still performed before the start of the movie. Sometimes movie stars would come to the theater to promote the movies and other times chorus girls would put on a show.
The Priest Theater is the oldest continuously operated movie theater in North Florida. Today, it shows first-run movies on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Sign returns home

The High Springs Rotary Club may now be in possession of one of the most traveled signs in High Springs.
Gary Bennett, a member of Rotary, attended a car show in Cairo, Ga., several months ago where he saw a vendor from High Springs selling his wares. The man said he had a sign from High Springs. When Bennett saw it, he realized that it was an official Rotary sign from the 1930s.
Bennett purchased the cast-iron sign for $100 and carted it back to High Springs.
The sign at one time must have graced the city limits, because on the back it says "Good Bye, Good Luck, Come Again." No one recalls seeing it in recent years, nor does anyone remember when it disappeared from the city limits.
Bennett said the man selling the sign wouldn't give him any information on how he came into possession of it, but they have determined that the cast-iron sign was made in High Springs.
"When we brought it home, it didn't look very good," Bennett said. "But after a local artist cleaned and painted it, the club became very enthusiastic about having the sign back home."
Bennett had the colors for the sign specially mixed to match the Rotarian colors. Earlier this month, they placed the sign in front of the New Century Woman's Club where the High Springs Rotary Club meets every Monday night.
"It's our sign now, and we love it," said Bennett.
Patricia C. Behnke can be reached at pcbwrites@aol.com or (352) 222-2508.

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