LUNCH BRUNCH — Gathered for lunch April 6 at Dudley’s restaurant in DeLand are, clockwise around the table from left, Randy Daily, Fran Risting, Marlene Block, Pat Strub, Beaconites Barb Shepherd and Marsha McLaughin — who joined the group for a reporting assignment — Dot Brown, Carole Tallman, Jeanette Preston, Ruth Ann Wood, Georgette Alin and Larry Clark. Not pictured here are lunch-group founders Jerry Risting and Margaret Scribner, who also attended.


For 22 years, an intrepid gang of well-seasoned DeLandites has been terrorizing the waitstaff of the local eateries throughout DeLand and its surrounding communities.

It began in 2001, when Jerry Risting, then the owner of Nooklers Ice Cream Shop, and his mom, who dined out together every Thursday night, were joined by Marlene and Rich Block, owners of the retail store Somewhere in Time, plus Rich’s parents, Gloria and Ken, and Marlene’s father, Gene Martin.

The group expanded to include Jerry’s brother Bob and his wife, Fran Risting, who, with Jerry, operated Stampworks of Florida. Tom Baldauff, who gave his time and talents to nearby merchants, soon began tagging along.

Then, I entered into the mix as the owner of Studio 308. Soon after that, Dwight and Carol Morrow, owners of DeLand Coins and Collectibles, joined us, and it seemed then that we personified the merchants of the northernmost business blocks of Downtown DeLand.

When Somewhere in Time changed hands, the new owners, Jim and Ellen Wallace, joined in. Before long, other folks began jumping on board. Some were merchants, but others just wanted to be part of this group — because they heard we were fun!

Jeannine Morton of Jeannine’s French Maid Bakery on East New York Avenue joined us.

Along the way, the evening outings morphed into early Thursday afternoons, to accommodate the schedules of all comers.

Our little group has grown over these past 22 years, averaging between nine and 14 diners per gathering. It’s an intimidating number for the poor serving girl or guy who gets our table.

DESSERT DELIBERATIONS — Dudley ’s server Alana Arnoldkey discusses dessert choices with lunch group members Margaret Scribner and Jerry Risting.

At each get-together, another restaurant is chosen for the following week via a rotation system. The choice is usually met with smiles, but sometimes groans. (“I don’t like Mexican. I don’t like Cuban. I don’t like fish! And so on.) But usually everyone just “sucks it up,” and shows up the following week.

We tend to lean toward restaurants offering American cuisine and those establishments whose staffs are willing to rearrange dining tables to accommodate a group of our size.

Cook’s Buffet is our most-frequented choice, followed by Perkins, DeLand Fish House, Half Wall, Boston Coffee House, Brian’s BarB-Q, Angelina’s Pizzeria, The Table, Dudley’s, and the Airport Restaurant and Gin Mill, to name just a few. Most recently, we were impressed with Sinatra’s in Cassadaga.

When the “chooser of the week” is feeling adventurous, we move out of our comfort zone and visit restaurants that offer more culturally diverse menus, such as Pad Thai Café, Mi Mexico, and Chicas Cuban Café.

Over the years, we have visited most all of the DeLand eateries and have occasionally traveled to a few just beyond DeLand’s boundaries.

Though our numbers have increased, we’ve lost a few of our founding folks along the way. Some moved, some left to pursue other interests, and a few, sadly, passed away.

Newcomers who came on board midway through our 22-year jaunt included Marion Dailey, Ken O’Hair, Carole and Wayne Tallman and Jeanette Preston. We even had a front-row seat to a joyous romance and wedding among two of our folks.

So, what is the glue that holds this group together?

Good food is No. 1!

Pleasant waitstaff is No. 2!

And here’s No. 3: Early on, when there were fewer of us, Marlene Block would bake and decorate a birthday cake for each celebrant, and I would craft a personal birthday card. Sadly, that tradition has fallen by the wayside.

However, now, each get-together begins with a series of jokes. Copies of the written jokes are passed on to a couple of our gentlemen, and these jokes have a second life as they are shared with the members of each of these fellows’ respective men’s clubs.

Additionally, aside from enjoying the great food, we chat a lot, and relate our experiences of the week, both the good and the not so-good. We share stories of our kids, grandkids and even great-grandkids. It’s much like a huge extended family sitting around the kitchen table, minus the obnoxious uncle.

TACO SALAD WITH A DUDLEY’S TWIST — Georgette Alin digs into her taco salad, topped with grilled chicken, at a
meeting of the DeLand lunch gang that’s been gathering for a midday meal weekly for the past 22 years.

As I view the various dining venues and this interesting gang of seniors, I realize that Jerry Risting and I are the only two regular attendees left from the initial gathering 22 years ago. But we keep adding to our flock. Most recent additions who have added to the fun include Dot Brown and Pat Strub, Larry Clark and friend Georgie Alin, Ruth Ann Woods and Randi Daily.

And about that romance and wedding? Well, a very lovely lady who graced our tables many years ago, Hilda McCarter, met a charming gentleman, Don Johnston, at their Episcopal Church. (The Johnston family figured prominently in the early development of DeLand.)

They struck up a friendship, which led Hilda to invite Don to join our group. He did, and both continued on with us throughout their courtship and their beautiful wedding. We enjoyed their company for many years.

— Scribner, an artist who owned the Downtown DeLand business Studio 308 from 2000 to 2011, now teaches art privately. She lives in DeLand.


  1. Looks like a great place BUT looks are deceiving!! This establishment serves canned string beans….REALLY!? And instant mashed potatoes…..UGH…and this is supposed to be hometown cooking.?? My momma sure didnt teach. me to cook like that¡!,,

  2. I Beg To Differ on the comments! The Mashed potatoes ARE REAL! Always Fresh Always Hot!
    Green beans, Italian Green Beans, Corn, Mixed vegetables, Okra, Fresh!
    Homemade Meals she prepares herself!
    Meat Loaf, Turkey, Baked Ziti, Matza Ball Soup, Chicken Mushroom Soup, Clam Chowder and More!

  3. I’m sure that table makes the server run for anything and everything. Making the servers day hell, and probably don’t tip well either.

  4. Why is this even a story. What
    About the homeless issues leaving dump zones all over town. What about the neighborhood center who busses in convicts from prison to bad their pocket, what about the drug issues and prostitution in the town. We even have business in town in the sex trade. What about real stories.

  5. How about a real story What
    About the homeless issues leaving dump zones all over town. What about the neighborhood center who busses in convicts from prison to bad their pocket, what about the drug issues and prostitution in the town. We even have business in town in the sex trade. What about real stories.

  6. Thank you Sandra for your defense of Dudley’s. Unfortunately there are folks who have unkind things to say about anything. For anyone who has doubts our mashed potatoes are very real or I’m peeling an average of 100 potatoes a day for no reason and the string beans are fresh as well.

  7. I’m sure that group runs the heck out of their poor servers, asks for separate checks (which is time consuming) and rarely tip appropriately.
    I don’t care about these misers. I care about real news!

  8. The article is labeled under Foodie File. I would EXPECT to read about our local restaurants, both for those “in the know” and those “looking to try” I love the articles and the different reviews and opinions. I also want the other news stories. but really LIKE having the Foodie File.. Don’t like it?? Skip over it. There IS ALWAYS ROOM for different types of articles!


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