SEMINOLE — On a bright Wednesday morning, customers streamed in and out of the Apple Butter Cafe for its grand opening. Many had been there before as regulars of the space’s former restaurant: Trip’s Diner.
Former Trip’s employee Shannon Lee purchased the place Jan. 23 and has changed the restaurant’s name. The new spot’s vibe is similar to Trip’s, with breakfast and lunch served daily. Menu items include specials like a chili cheese omelette, a French dip and a fork-and-knife chili cheese dog.
Lee, who is 43, worked at the Seminole Trip’s since the day it opened and has been a server for 27 years.
It’s been her lifelong dream to own a restaurant, she said, something the former owner, Gordon Stevenson, knew. When he approached her about buying the restaurant, he told her he wanted to make her dream a reality.
“He made it very possible for me to do (it), and here I am,” Lee said.
Lee has lived in Seminole her whole life, and many of the new spot’s customers so far are her longtime regulars. She retained all of the former Trip’s staff, which Lee said made the transition easy.
She wanted to keep the neighborhood restaurant feel with Apple Butter Cafe: people at the counter drinking coffee, watching the news and striking up conversation with each other.
“I want it to be that place where friends meet new and old friends,” she said.
This sale won’t affect the other two Trip’s locations in Tampa (6416 N Florida Ave.) and St. Petersburg (2339 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N), which are open for business as usual.
Those locations were acquired in January by Phillip Ingram, who said Trip’s isn’t going anywhere. He said one of the missions of his company, Sunshine City Foods, is to preserve the local iconic restaurant brands for decades to come. The company also bought Lonni’s Sandwiches in downtown St. Petersburg two years ago.
Apple Butter Cafe is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. 10555 Park Blvd., Seminole. 727-258-7033.