Broadband Utility: City Still Seeking More Information

For those of you wondering when the city of Lakeland will decide whether to offer broadband Internet through their miles of fiber-optic cable: You can keep wondering. After two workshops on a possible broadband utility last month, city commissioners generally agreed on three things: They need more info, they want to hear from the public, and the elephant in the room is whether private provider Spectrum will increase speeds and lower prices. Stay tuned.

Planned for Downtown: A Bar/Arcade and a Craft Nanobrewery

A bar that doubles as an arcade for electronic games is being planned for the downtown building that also houses LkldLive. The owners of Cob & Pen joined a few other backers for this new-to-Lakeland concept. Rec Room would be family friendly before 9 p.m., and adults-only after that. Around the corner, local businessman Kevin Stringer plans to open a second Dissent Craft Brewing (the first is in St. Pete) in the Kentucky Avenue storefront that once housed half of La Carreta Mexican Restaurant.

Dining 1: Biscuits, Mexican Coming To South Lakeland

A couple of new restaurants have been announced in neighborhoods between downtown and the Polk Parkway: Biscuits and Benedicts, serving breakfast and lunch, is coming to the South Florida Avenue spot in Dixieland that housed Nineteen61 before it moved downtown. At Oakbridge, the Azteca D’Oro Mexican restaurant chain is expanding to Lakeland. It will occupy the stand-alone building built for TooJays Deli and will compete with nearby Tex-Mex chains Abuelo’s and Chili’s.

Dining 2: Our Eateries are Ready For Their Closeups


“Is Lakeland Florida’s next hip food city? It sure seems like it.” That was the headline when Tampa Bay Times Food and Lifestyle Editor Michelle Stark took a culinary tour of Lakeland. Her tour guide was Maggie Leach, kitchen director at the Catapult small-biz incubator, so the tour leans heavily on Catapult friends and alumni. Featured eateries include soon-to-open spots such as The Joinery food hall, Yard on Mass food truck park and Honeycomb Bread Bakers. Stark visited established restaurants including Cafe Zuppina, Black & Brew and Born & Bread Bakehouse.

Dining 3: A Preview of Bonnet Springs

When the massive Bonnet Springs Park opens west of downtown in 2021, visitors can expect a fine-dining restaurant, a family-friendly cafe, banquet hall and other food concessions. Park promoters plan to solicit bids from potential food vendors this month. Restaurant consultants KK&P will work alongside the vendor(s) to fine-tune the dining concepts inside the 180-acre urban respite. Plans include a destination restaurant intended to draw visitors from other Central Florida cities.

Engagement Photos Shot at a Publix Go Viral

For once, viral photos from Lakeland showed something happy: a wedding engagement. Alexandra Darch and Dylan Smith, who met three years ago while working at the Oakbridge Publix, posed for the pictures at the store after plans for an outdoor shoot got rained out. Winter Haven photographer Jennifer Goodlet staged creative shots -- on shopping carts, near food displays and behind refrigerator glass, for example. They were first picked up by Florida news and social media sites, and ultimately went national.

Polk Museum’s Impressionism Show Getting Accolades

Also getting national attention: a new exhibit at the Polk Museum of Art. Chadd Scott, who writes about the intersection of art and travel, wrote in Forbes that “American Impressionism Through the French Lens” proves “you shouldn’t have to live or travel in New York or Chicago to see the greatest art the world has ever produced.” The exhibit remains on display in the museum’s main galleries through Oct. 13. It explores the effects of French art of the late 19th Century on a younger generation of American artists, many of them with the means to study in Europe.

Church Murals: Biblical Scenes Get Painted Over

Here’s a story about some paintings without a happy ending: After Redemption Church moved into the building that previously housed St. David’s Episcopal Church, they wanted to let passersby on Edgewood Drive know they were welcoming to all. So they painted signs of welcome over four large murals that looked like stained glass and depicted biblical scenes. Local artist Rick Olivo, who spent around two months more than a dozen years ago creating the 9-by-12-foot murals, was distraught when he heard and wants to find a way to protect other public art.

City Gives Hospital Rent Relief, Plans Budget Cuts

Last month we reported that Lakeland Regional Health had asked the city of Lakeland to forgo scheduled increases in the hospital’s lease payments for five years and that could lead to a property tax increase. Since then, city commissioners agreed to hold off on the increases but also said there would be no tax increase this year. Instead, they’re going to cut spending, including four to six salaries and delaying land purchases for a park in southwest Lakeland.

Sykes Expanding Its Customer Service Call Center

Sykes Enterprises Inc. is expanding its Lakeland customer-service call center and hiring an unspecified number of employees thought to be several hundred. Applications can be made in person at 1144 Griffin Road or at The Lakeland call center services three companies and recently added two more; one is in health care, and the other is a well-known software company, a Sykes manager said.

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