Category Archives: Personality

Gourmet Sandwich Shop Keeping It All in Family

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Three longtime Gainesville area chefs — all related — are combining their talents to open Piper Gi’s, specializing in hand-crafted soups and sandwiches. The restaurant will open for business in mid-December.

From left, Jacon Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gis. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

From left, Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gi’s. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Take three chefs with almost 50 years combined culinary experience, put them together in a restaurant kitchen with quality ingredients and their imaginations, and — voila! — you have the recipe for success.

At least that is what Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and Shanti Riesch-Newman anticipate when they open Piper Gi’s later this month at 204 SW 2nd Ave., next door to High Dive. Riesch-Newman said the eatery is shooting for a Dec. 14 soft opening and a Dec. 15 grand opening.

The carryout restaurant, with a tropical decor that extends to its pastel-colored picnic tables, will specialize in hand-crafted sandwiches, soups, salads and side dishes.

“I would say that we’re bringing the love back to sandwiches and the love back to food and to actual cooking,” said Shanti Riesch-Newman, executive chef at Emiliano’s Cafe for the past five and a half years.

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Giving Thanks Where Thanks is Due

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thanksHave you taken a look around downtown Gainesville lately? New eateries and other small businesses are opening on an almost-weekly basis. Fascinating exhibits are on display at museums and galleries. Memorable performances are taking place at local theaters.

There is also excitement in the air with the opening of Depot Park and the reopening of Bo Diddley Plaza this year. People are gathering downtown like never before.

Simply put, downtown Gainesville is a better place today than it was a year ago not because of large corporations and big money, but because of individuals who are passionate about what they do.

Today we recognize some of the individuals who have made and continue to make downtown Gainesville worth visiting and enjoying. (We have listed them alphabetically so as not to show favoritism, but we love them all!)

If we have left someone out, our apologies. Please let us know who also deserves our thanks! Continue reading

‘Telling Gainesville’ Brings War Stories Home

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Just in time for Veterans Day, the Actors’ Warehouse offers a stage production in which five Gainesville area residents — none with formal acting experience — share their heartfelt military experiences.


From left, veterans Victor Lopez, Scott Camil, Rafe Johnson and Andrew Moore “recite the oath” during Telling Gainesville. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Every soldier returning home from war has a story to tell. Andrew Moore will tell you about attending 20 memorial services in three weeks for fallen comrades in Iraq. Victor Lopez will tell you how he was scared of being shot in Afghanistan. Rafe Johnson will tell you about the racism he encountered serving his country in the Navy. Scott Camil will tell you how he defended his country with honor in Vietnam only to feel betrayed by that same nation upon his return home.

Sue Dudley

Sue Dudley gives the perspective of a military wife during Telling Gainesville.

Now, all Gainesville has to do is sit. And listen.

The four U.S. war veterans, along with former military wife Sue Dudley, will be on stage sharing their stories beginning this week in Telling Gainesville: A Soldier’s Narrative of War, a series of performances at the Actors’ Warehouse, 608 N. Main St.

There will be a preview performance Thursday night at 8. Opening night is Friday. Five additional performances will take place over the next two weekends. Free tickets are available by reserving them on the Actors’ Warehouse website. (Only Friday night’s performance is sold out so far. Seating is limited.)

Each two-hour performance will conclude with a discussion moderated by Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the award-winning Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF.

Presented by the UF Center for Arts in Medicine and the UF Center for European Studies, Telling Gainesville is the latest effort of The Telling Project. The national organization uses theater to further the understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.

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Hippodrome Family Says Goodbye to Rusty Salling

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Family, friends and colleagues shared heartwarming stories and humorous tales about the late Hippodrome actor during a Celebration of Life on the stage where he performed for 43 years.


In 35 years at UF, Dr. Albert Wehlberg taught more than 45,000 students in the School of Theatre and Dance. One of those students, a wiry youngster from Jacksonville by the name of Rusty Salling, entered his Stagecraft 1 classroom in September 1969 and never truly left the building.

Hippodrome artistic director Lauren Warhol Caldwell shares a story about Rusty Salling. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Hippodrome artistic director Lauren Warhol Caldwell shares a story about Rusty Salling. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

“He enjoyed class, but mostly when I dismissed class early,” Wehlberg said of his former pupil, who would go on to a long career in theatre.

“Technical theatre wasn’t his favorite subject,” Wehlberg said later. “In fact, he probably thought it was a pain in the ass because I made him work.”

But Wehlberg, now 79, came to admire his pupil’s work and said as much on Monday night during a Celebration of Life for Salling at the Hippodrome Theatre. About 200 people, including family, friends, fellow actors and admirers, attended the two-hour tribute on the mainstage where Salling performed for more than four decades.

“He did well,” Dr. Wehlberg said of Salling. “He always used to make a funny sound whenever I complimented him on a production. I don’t know where that sound came from!”

Wehlberg was one of more than a dozen speakers to share a story or two about Salling on a night that included some tears but mostly laughter for a man who was bigger than life on stage but otherwise a humble and private individual. Dan Jesse, a longtime friend of Salling, emceed the Celebration of Life.

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Local Author Showcase Strictly by the Book

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The Alachua County Library District is hosting an event on Saturday that shines the spotlight on a dozen area writers who have been published.

Hugh E. Suggs, with his wife of 35 years, Janet, in front of their Gainesville home. Photo by Raphael Michael/Gainesville Downtown)

Hugh E. Suggs and wife Janet in front of their Gainesville home. (Photo by Raphael Michael/Gainesville Downtown)

Hugh E. Suggs has performed many duties in his life to put food on the table for his family of six. He’s worked construction, laid down carpet, managed restaurants, sold cars, taught grade school and done landscaping work, among other things.

local authors showcaseBut not anymore. Now, Suggs is a writer.

Earlier this summer, the Gainesville resident self-published “Stepping on Cracks,” a creepy novel about a serial killer lurking around the University of Florida. Suggs is preparing to release two more books in the coming year — one containing poetry and the other a series of short stories based on his life.

“Writing is what I love to do,” Suggs said the other day from his home in the Duckpond neighborhood of downtown Gainesville.

On Saturday, Hughes will be one of 12 writers featured during the Local Author Showcase at the downtown Headquarters Library, 401 E. University Ave. The others are Stephen Smitherman, Theodore Josiha Haig, Sandra Gail Lambert, Caroline Anaya, Nancy Rankie Shelton, Stephanie Smith, Terri Depue, Sandra “Lee” Phillips, Glenn Vellekamp, Richard Gartree and Melinda Grimmage.

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