Countryside Citrus' new beachside location a huge hit
It has been awhile since there was fresh citrus available on the beach, but opening a boutique citrus shop on Ocean Drive makes Countryside Citrus a trailblazer.
"So many locals have said it's about time!" said Cheryl Roseland, manager of the new beachside location of Countryside Citrus, a gift-fruit shipping and retail business she owns with her family. "Now we can provide our island customers with a closer location, and our vacationing visitors with the opportunity to experience a true taste of Florida."
Area residents - and citrus lovers everywhere- know there are few things more delicious than world-renowned Indian River oranges and grapefruit. As the growing season winds down, people scramble to get their fill of fruit and freshly squeezed juice from local groves, before growers' retail shops close for the summer.
Fear not, Countryside Citrus will be serving freshly squeezed juice year-round at their beach location. "Orange juice freezes beautifully." said Roseland, "and since we have acquired more freezer space, we're going to give it a try."
Pie and ice cream
In addition to their tasty citrus fruit and juice, the new shop offers a plethora of other delights.
"We make orange slushies, and a lactose- and gluten-free, soft-serve ice cream, made with our orange juice." said Roseland. "We, also have vanilla and sometimes chocolate ice cream. We rotate grapefruit and peach flavors, depending upon the season. We are working on (locally sourced) key lime and pineapple ice cream, and hope to have these flavors available soon."
Her niece, Brittany Banack, makes homemade key lime pies from her own recipe and they sell faster than she can make them. They're a perfect complement to a cup of the shop's piping hot Rio-Coco coffee.
Countryside Citrus has also partnered with Lane Southern Orchards in Georgia to sell roasted and salted pecans, as well as raw pecan halves for baking. In addition, Georgia peaches from Lane Southern Orchards will be available from mid-May through mid- August. Homemade peach cobbler can be found in their frozen section, year-round.
"Fitting all we have to offer into a 400-square foot space was a real challenge," said Roseland. She contributed some of her own decorating ideas and enlisted the help of her husband, architect Nicholas Roseland, to give this cozy shop the ambiance of a country store of yesteryear- with a few modern conveniences.
The shelves are filled with a variety of jams, jellies and marmalades, such as guava, honeybell orange, and pink grapefruit. They also carry local raw honey, alligator jerky and coconut patties, along with a great selection of citrus- scented candles, lotions, sunscreens and body scrubs. Many other fun novelty items are available, too.
Gift baskets are a big part of their business and Roseland is currently working on a fall catalog that promises to have some new surprises. "We have recently hired a creative food marketing company," she said. "And, my daughters, Elizabeth and Schuyler, always give me wonderful ideas, even though one is in Orlando and the other in Gainesville."
Not only is the next generation getting involved, The Countryside Citrus family has been in the industry for generations- in fact, Roseland and her daughters can trace their ancestors who grew citrus in Florida all the way back to the 1700's.
Countryside began more recently, but it was still nearly four decades ago when Frank and Florrie Van Antwerp started selling fruit to friends and Northern visitors from their front porch. A few years later, their son and daughter-in-law, Fred and Flo Van Antwerp, decided to make the business into a bigger, more professional operation.
In 1984, they built a packing house and opened a retail store. As they neared retirement age nearly 20 years later, the Van Antwerps sold the business to Flo's brother-and Roseland's father- Sid Banack. But Countryside's mainland store on 81st Street is still right where it all began, next to Frank and Florrie's porch. Fred Van Antwerp still hasn't retired and he uses his lifetime of experience to make sure Countryside's new beachside customers will enjoy the highest quality fruit and juice.
As their brochure states, "Generations work together to nurture, harvest and ship our fruit to you. We have a love and passion that make us the proud keepers of a grand tradition that is the citrus industry. Florida's best citrus from our family to yours."
Everyone loves the new location and business is booming since the opening in January. "This is simply a wonderful addition to the beach," exclaimed one happy customer.
Countryside Citrus is located at 3300 Ocean Drive and is open seven days a week from 9 am to 7 pm. For more information, call 772-234-8299 or visit www.countrysidecitrus.com. And don't forget to "like" them on Facebook.
-by Candace Moore, The Newsweekly