Old Spanish Sugar Mill breakfast restaurant to close in De Leon Springs

DE LEON SPRINGS, Florida. – The Old Spanish Sugar Mill, a breakfast restaurant in De Leon Springs, is set to close after 61 years, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The company announced late Monday that the state has decided not to renew its contract, but to move forward with another concession at De Leon Springs State Park.

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“We have been fortunate to serve as a staple in Central Florida since 1961,” reads the message from the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. “We sincerely thank you for making us your ‘go-to’ when you have company or crave chocolate chip pancakes. 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 going several months ago and was outbid by another concessionaire.

“It all depends on the highest bidder. It’s really about money and we’ve been doing it for a really long time and it’s just going to change hands,” Michaelos said. “We created this. It’s so unique to us. What the new dealer does, I really don’t know. They are mandated to create a unique dining experience, but it is up to them.

The restaurant prides itself on having hotplates fitted at each of its guest tables, which the staff use to make pancakes in front of customers.

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The pancakes also come with an assortment of made-to-order ingredients, including blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, pecans, chocolate chips, apples, and applesauce.

“Everyone in the community is aware. We get people from all over the world coming so it’s a big, big deal,” Michaelos said. “Thank you all and I mean it sincerely.”

And the community of customers mentioned by Michaelos are also heartbroken.

“The pancakes are fantastic. It’s definitely one of the big things for me,” said Paul Allen, a customer who lives in Edgewater. “Everyone is so used to it. It’s a shame it has to close. He has such a story. There have been so many different things over the years.

Melissa Bryan and her family even ventured to Jacksonville’s Old Spanish Sugar Mill to experience it before it closed.

“You come to cook your own pancakes. We’ve been looking forward to it all summer,” she said. “Maybe they’ll try to keep it the same. It seems like a lot of people are coming to enjoy it. I know the kids are really enjoying it.

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The company’s website said its final weeks will be “extremely busy” and therefore all catering services will be first come, first served. As a result, the company said it would not be able to accept reservations.

“All I can say is come early. We’re going to be full quickly and we won’t be able to accommodate everyone who wants to eat here,” Michaelos said. “There is 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, although the plant itself will stay.

“The restaurant’s famous do-it-yourself pancakes will still be available in the authentic sugar mill building overlooking one of Florida’s most beautiful natural settings,” said the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the state parks, in a statement.

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The restaurant said the business is expected to close on September 12.

For more information or to see the restaurant’s menu, visit their website here.

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