New boxcar proprietor draws on Dunedin’s past when citrus was king

Lane’s Lemonade is scheduled to open in mid-August in the boxcar on Pinellas Trail in downtown Dunedin.

DUNEDIN — A tradition stretching back 136 years to the 1880s, when citrus was king in Dunedin, is being revitalized by the former boxcar’s new proprietor, Elana Kapetaneas.

She is bringing the flavors and aroma of citrus back to the antique railroad car, adjacent to the Dunedin Historical Society Museum, with her business scheduled to open on the Pinellas Trail in mid-August called Lane’s Lemonade.

During a work session July 9, city Housing and Economic Development Director Robert Ironsmith told commissioners “it’s an exciting day.”

He noted the museum was looking for another tenant to operate the boxcar and found “a great business person with a proven track record” to operate the concession.

“This fits in very nice as to what we are trying to do with this area; of course the (Historical Museum) did their expansion. We have the Lari White Pavilion, which has been a home run, and this is another effort to improve the boxcar and make it a lot more attractive.”

Under an agreement with the Dunedin Historical Museum, the city must approve the boxcar tenant.

“We’re very excited they are going ahead with a company called Lane’s Lemonade. We know her as Elana, who had the coffee business on Broadway and has a proven track record,” Ironsmith said.

Kapetaneas, whose nickname is Lane, said her concept is to have consistent operating hours and draw on the citrus past of the railroad station, offering healthy and fresh cold drinks and other treats.

“I’m looking forward to this new opportunity on the trail. As a business owner downtown and as a resident, I know how busy the trail is and the needs people are looking for while they are biking, walking and running. My vision is to give it a clear concept — to have consistent hours and run it professionally,” she told commissioners.

The concept is based on how railroad cars running through the town carried a lot of citrus.

“So we are going to do freshly squeezed lemonade and limeades, orangeades, cold drinks and trailside treats, healthy things like fruit bowls, parfaits and avocado toasts,” Kapetaneas said.

Ironsmith said Kapetaneas recently sold the business she started three years ag on Broadway, called Dunedin Coffee Co.

In a strange twist of fate, about eight years ago she approached the Dunedin Historical Society and expressed a strong interest in providing a retail, food and beverage establishment in the boxcar, Ironsmith said.

Knowing that she once had that interest, several months ago History Museum Director Vinnie Luisi contacted her to see if she still had that interest.

Blair Kooi, Dunedin Historical Society president, said Elana’s previous business, the Dunedin Coffee Company, “had a wonderful vibe.”

In noting that it took eight years for Elana’s interest in the boxcar to come to fruition, Kooi said, “sometimes it just takes a while for a vision to be implemented.”

“We are very anxious to start our business operation with Elana. We feel it’s a perfect fit for what the museum was looking for for future growth, and a mutual partnership to work together on joint projects, and different functions,” Luisi said.

Commissioner Maureen Freaney, the city’s liaison with the Historical Society Museum, said the railroad car “is a huge revenue producer for them and they fill a huge spot in our downtown right at our corner.”

“Having a great vendor, I was excited to hear how you were playing off the trail theme,” she told Elana. “I think this is a great day for this coming together; I’m excited about it.”

Ironsmith added “this fits in nicely with our designation as a trail town.”