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Flowers, not fast food.

Floral Bouquet + Stetson Flowers recently planted itself in a prominent church building that had been eyed as a potential fast-food restaurant.

Pita Pit had waged a monthslong battle to open an eatery in the former DeLand Primitive Baptist Church on the southwest corner of North Woodland Boulevard and West Plymouth Avenue. The plan had been approved by the DeLand City Commission over objections from neighbors, primarily those fearing higher amounts of traffic that would result.

But Pita Pit eventually decided to go elsewhere, which put the property back on the market in early 2018.

“We had been looking for a permanent home for some time because we had outgrown our  previous location [at 339 S. Woodland Blvd.],” said Floral Bouquet owner Jennifer Strickland. “Once that deal fell through, the owner reduced the price and it became affordable for us.”

Strickland and her husband, Thomas Loadholtz, bought the property last August. Since then, she said, they and their family have painstakingly restored the interior of the main chapel building and a smaller, secondary building behind it.

“The shell was in really good shape, but we had to remove dropped ceilings in both buildings and replace both roofs,” Strickland said. “The building has been here a long time, and we wanted to work with it” to maintain its architectural integrity.

One setback came when the dropped ceiling was removed from the front building and Strickland and her family discovered interesting-looking beams supporting the roof. That meant finding insulation that could be retrofitted under the roof so the beams could remain exposed, Strickland said.

The renovations are not complete, she added. Windows in both buildings need to be replaced, and two permanent signs will be installed on the Plymouth and Woodland sides of the property.

Also, a paved parking area will be installed along the north side of the property. The main entrance will be at the western end, allowing for left turns off of westbound Plymouth. (The existing entrance faces a raised median on Plymouth, meaning only drivers heading east can turn into the parking lot; customers coming south on Woodland Boulevard have to circle the block to get to it.)

More renovation work is planned for the rear building, which will house the larger rental elements — such as floral archways — for weddings and other events, as well as a private consultation space for families who have lost a loved one, Strickland said.

Floral Bouquet + Stetson Flowers opened at 850 N. Woodland Blvd. on Jan. 14, just in time to gear up for Valentine’s Day. The four-person crew has just started to take orders for the big day, so it’s not too late to place orders online or by phone, Strickland said.

“We’re ready to rock-and-roll,” she said. “We usually sell out before Valentine’s Day — especially red roses — but we have many other choices in an array of colors and types of flowers to choose from.”

Floral Bouquet’s phone number is still 386-951-4029. For ordering ideas and other information, the website is www.TFBDeLand.com.


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