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LakeMET was founded by the original "undercover hospitality consultant" Anthony Del Oceano (AKA: Small Town Tony, Antonio Gianni, Anthony Hudson, Tony Domiano Caruso, Anthony Carroll, Ernesto "Ernie" Carrero, Antonio Ianni, Tony "Bag-a-Donuts", and once just plain "Bob!") in December of 2020. Tony had consulted, operated and managed149 different restaurant and hotel concepts in his 30 year career before going into the insurance industry.

Our story begins like all great stories do... at the beginning. Tony enjoyed going out for breakfast every Sunday and wanted a simple way to browse through a list of restaurants exclusively in Mount Dora, Eustis, and Tavares (MET). Three beautiful small towns located in Lake County (Lake). So in his spare time, while working 12 hour days as a Independent Insurance Adjuster, he built SmallTownLakeLife.com, which was later changed to LakeMET.com. Tony still owns and uses both domains along with SmallTownCentralFlorida.com. 

 

The entire first year, Tony was the designer, manager, member and sole user of LakeMET. He created a program that would utilize search engines to find restaurants that met his local "restaurant criteria." This program would also populate all the categories on the website, saving lots of time with the initial build. However, this software was later scrapped as the LakeMET platform expanded. One Sunday while having breakfast, the idea to build the site to help tourists navigate the many local, small businesses in the three towns was jotted on a napkin. Tony went to work! This time subcontracting some of the web building tasks. In doing so, he contracted Alexa Voce. Alexa brought the idea to utilize Facebook by setting up a page and a group. In doing so, she became the "face" of LakeMET. Based in Tampa, Florida, she contacted hundreds of businesses and voluntarily shared endless posts. Tony loves helping people in any manner. By sharing content from local artists and small businesses, they felt they were making a difference. They wanted to make a difference not just for the small business owners, but also those they employed. 

LakeMET opened to the public in December 2021 with a good amount of traffic with very little advertising. Soon, Tony realized that it was a favorite with locals. Locals did not want to remain in just the three towns. They wanted to know about small businesses, restaurants, and local artists in other small towns too! LakeMET was soon reimagined to include all small towns across Central Florida. 

Today, LakeMET has ten Facebook groups. While quite small still in size, they continue to grow. LakeMET has the absolute best Small Town Ambassadors that continue to promote local artists and small businesses in all the groups! Holly Fury of 2 Lil Sunshines, Monique Strickland of M & D Photography of Central Florida, and Linda Sears of Design House are all not only full time small business owners, but take time to support many other businesses and artists as well.

Read more about these heroes right here!

Moreover, some of the most extraordinary local artists and small businesses have stepped up and become Main Street Members. They, with other sponsors and private funding, make it possible in part for us to give free listings to local artists, small business starts ups, and local favorites alike.

Visit these local heroes right here!

"As for LakeMET.com, it is now getting another makeover. We want to bring attention to all our small towns, local artists, and small businesses across Central Florida! The reimagined site will have sections covering small businesses and artists that serve Small Town Central Florida. In addition, we will give each small town it's own "website".

We hope that locals and guests alike will Dine, Shop, Play & Go Local in our amazing small towns! With many blessings to you (OUR guest!), we hope you enjoy this simple catalogue of the people and places that we feel make our Small Town Central Florida simply extraordinary!" - Small Town Tony

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