Last Chapter leads to new story

The former Last Chapter Coffee House, on the corner of Arcadia’s West Oak Street, has turned a new page, becoming Myshelly’s Kitchen.

Its 65-seat space pays cozy homage to Arcadian antiquities. A 5,000-piece vintage set of Desert Rose Franciscan earthenware sees use every day in a dining room where Betty Boop poses in golfing garb.

The old-fashioned ice cream parlor off to one side will soon become a wine and craft beer bar for hubbies whose wives are off shopping, or vice versa for that matter.

In downtown Arcadia it’s now the only 5-star TripAdvisor eatery and the only one besides Slim’s BBQ that’s owned by a born-and-bred Arcadian.

Chef-owner Michelle Miller, a DeSoto High grad, came back to her hometown and purchased the 1906 building, she claims, just to open a restaurant for her dad.

What better reason could there be? Miller said she couldn’t stand to see him as a widower, eating nothing but the canned food in his cabinets.

She knew she could feed him better than that. She and her family have been involved in 23 restaurants, dating back to culinary roots in France.

Since opening this summer, Myshelly’s Kitchen (a play on Michelle’s name) has become a gathering place for more than just Miller’s dad. Everyone in town seems to show up there, too, for fresh, preservative-free ingredients. They flock in in on weekends for flawless eggs, fluffed up with yogurt, and Monte Cristo sandwiches.

Here are some of Chef Michelle’s secrets—at least those she’ll divulge. She has well-known guest chefs popping in from time to time. And she uses no mayo in her cooking. Her heavenly potato, chicken and egg salads are bound instead with that rich Greek yogurt.

Even better, there are fresh-made French baguettes. Just tear off a hunk, dip it in butter and you’re at a sidewalk café in Paris.

“We break bread together every day before we open,” Miller added.

Myshelly’s Kitchen ($), 863-993-5030, is open daily 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with popup dinners ($$) the third Friday and Saturday of each month.

Joe Kahn rolls lucky Seven

Chef-owner Joe Kahn and his wife, Michelle, just opened the chic new Seven on Venice at 317B West Venice Avenue.

But Seven hasn’t always been a lucky number for them.

On Labor Day 2017, their longstanding upscale-casual bistro—Seven on Prospect in Peoria Heights, Illinois—was washed out in a fire that left it with smoke and water damage.

The 25-year restaurant pros didn’t miss a beat. Within a month they’d opened the equally successful Joe’s Original Italian & Martini Bar on the site.

Their latest venture —Seven on Venice — promises to be as much a Main Street mainstay as Seven on Prospect and Joe’s Original Italian.

At barely 6:30 on a recent Tuesday evening, one week after opening, the new restaurant’s 36 hip, yet comfy, seats were filling up rapidly with curious locals, snowbirds, even some who remembered Joe’s restaurants from Peoria.

Chef Joe allowed modestly, “Business is pretty good.”

He should know.

If you count a dishwashing gig at the age of 10 at his parents’ restaurant, Joe Kahn has been in the business for 40 years.

After the Kahns began exploring restaurant possibilities in Siesta Key, Fort Myers and Sarasota, they and their children — Jack, 11, and Lucy, 8 — kept being drawn to Venice.

The former Europe Wine Bistro provided a perfect opportunity. Today, banquette seating with high tops lines the west wall where a bar stood, and whitewashed walls alternate with wood paneling, pierced-tin lighting and mirrors that open the space while keeping it intimate.

But it’s the menu that keeps diners coming back.

Much of it drawing on the acclaimed Seven on Prospect, it lends all the classics creative twists —from appetizers like Shrimp and Crab Cakes and Tuna Carpaccio with wasabi cream and pickled ginger vinaigrette to extravaganzas like the chef’s favorite Magnificent Seven, a cioppino of seven seafoods over linguine.

“Hey, I’m just a likeable little Midwest guy who likes to drink wine and bourbon, cook and have fun,” said Joe. “We’ve had a lot of experiences, and this is our new experience. We’re excited. It’s a nice town with nice people.”

Seven ($$), 941-488-4900, 317B W. Venice Avenue, is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

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