Elmo & Linda's Magical Dining
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They are back, and from what we are hearing there are a lot of folks excited about it. Who are they? Elmo and Linda Bennett, who owned and operated Shady Oaks Café in Winter Haven for 10 years. Shady Oaks was a one-of-a-kind restaurant, a local treat, and a huge success. However, three years ago, Elmo and Linda had a chance to sell the place and take some time to travel. The move caused regular patrons, who had grown used to the great food, garden setting, and friendly atmosphere a little consternation.

Elmo was born and raised in Winter Haven, and Linda moved down from Tennessee when she was young. The two met and became a dynamic duo in the restaurant business. Elmo is quick to point out, Linda runs the business, while Elmo is the front man. If you're lucky, you'll be there on a day when Elmo is working the crowd entertaining them with his famous magic tricks. Earlier this year Shady Oaks closed. The new owners were not able to capture the magic that Linda and Elmo had created. This; however, gave Linda and Elmo an opportunity to get back in the game, and they have.

They've opened Elmo's and Linda's Magical Dining inside the charming Old Town Square in downtown Winter Haven. With seating inside and in the courtyard, the restaurant reminds me of a sidewalk cafe, and sure enough, while Linda and her staff, many who were with her for years at Shady Oak, do magic with the food, and some day's Elmo is out front talking to guests and doing his own magic to make the dining experience memorable.

Linda, "Since we opened we've seen many of our old friends," "In fact many of them have brought people in without telling them where they were going, just to surprise them. It is a great feeling to know how many people are really excited about us being back." While we were there we meet a customer that has been to the new restaurant several times and each time she brings a different friend or family member. What better recommendation than to see former patrons taking it on themselves to bring new customers into the family.

With the charming atmosphere, great menu and diverse offerings you'll discover what many folks who have known Elmo and Linda know, this is one cool place.

The magic in this friendly, charming restaurant begins early with choices from breakfast croissants, poached eggs, and homemade oatmeal bars to Eggs Benedict, homemade crepes and quiche mile-high quiche. Linda won’t part with her secret; but however she does it; she makes the best quiche I have found. Fillings vary, but are always abundant without overpowering this light, fluffy egg dish. The good news is that you can have quiche for breakfast or lunch. Along with an impressive list of sandwich selections, Elmo & Linda’s offers hot dish specials for a healthy, filling.

Lunch. Choose from Cottage Pie, Chicken Pie, Homemade Meatloaf or Chicken Cordon Blue. Lunch plates are served with a choice of rice, mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, soup or salad, and all are under $10. A full dozen salads, with names from Elmo’s card tricks, are built with the freshest fruits and vegetables available. The Full House, the house special, offers an array of seasonal fresh fruit served with your choice of tropical chicken salad, tuna salad or cottage. Healthy eating doesn’t get any better than this. Elmo does a little magic of his own in the kitchen for Friday night dinner with his famous Homemade Salsa. Vine-ripe tomatoes, fresh lime, onions, jalapeno peppers, olive oil and Elmo’s secret seasonings make this an appetizer you don’t want to skip. Tender slow-roasted Prime Rib and Beef Tenderloin Tips come in small and large portions. Linda’s home-made meatloaf gets dressed up for the evening, and with ham and Swiss cheese becomes a tasty Meatloaf Cordon Blue.Choose Florentine or Tropical for your chicken entree, slow-roasted Pork Tenderloin medallions, Baked White Fish or a Full House Salad or Cobb Salad. Try the combination platter and enjoy pork, meatloaf and chicken with rice, potatoes and vegetables.

All dinner items are under $20, most of them way under. Dessert is as magical as everything else with homemade goodies such as Pecan Pie, Chocolate and Cherry Cake or Linda’s special Fluff mile-high sweetness in the flavor of the day Key Lime is especially heavenly. Elmo & Linda’s isn’t just a good place to eat. When you go there, you leave well-nourished in body and spirit. That’s just the way it is with Elmo and Linda. They both bring a little magic into your life, and who doesn’t need that?
Open Tuesday through Saturday
from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.
Call 863-514-5382 for reservations,
to place a take-out order or . . .
to get information about catering.
Yes, they can bring their magic
right into your own home.
Elmo's and Linda's Magical Dining
Old Town Square
371 3rd Street NW
Winter Haven, FL 33881
Phone: 863-514-5382
Email: molinda1983@aol.com
371 3rd Street N.W. Old Town Square Winter Haven, Florida 33881