Steve Gunter, owner of Tap Room at Dubsdread and Dubsdread Catering, announced this morning that his team has been selected by the City of Apopka to manage the troubled Highland Manor property on an interim basis.
Highland Manor, also remembered by longtime Central Floridians as Townsend’s Plantation, was closed after the city evicted the current owners for nonpayment of rent. As reported yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel, Apopka police arrested Richard Wilhelm Thursday on charges that he schemed to defraud customers by continuing to collect deposits for events at the property after he had received notices of the impending eviction. According to the article, the people who paid the deposits, mostly brides who planned to have weddings and receptions there, likely will not get that money back.
But Gunter told me this morning that the city’s deal with him, which gives him the facilities rent free, will allow him to honor the contracts without requiring an additional deposit. He also stressed that although the city wants another restaurant to operate in the Highland Manor space, he will not be the one to operate it. His Tap Room at Dubsdread is a popular and critically acclaimed restaurant, but he says the Apopka property has limitations that would hinder a duplicate success — mainly that people approaching the property from the south cannot make a left turn to reach it.
So Dubsdread Catering will handle the weddings for those currently booked and others who wish to hold their receptions there in the future. Dubsdread, another popular wedding and reception location, is booked solid for the year and, according to Gunter, has turned away 100 requests.