The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 10 - December 19, 2012


Skinny's celebrates 10 years

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Louise Bolger | Sun
From left, Clark Freeman, Janice "Grandma" Freeman and
Jan Freeman in front of their classic restaurant.

One of the reasons everyone loves the beach is its timeless quality changing daily, but never really changing. Just steps from one of Anna Maria’s classic beaches is another classic, Skinny’s Place in a building which looks exactly the same as the day it was built in 1952.

It’s unlikely when Janice Freeman honeymooned on Anna Maria Island in 1936 she would have believed that she would still be here at age 95, or would she? The couple's love of the Island was so strong that they arranged their lives around it, splitting their time between two restaurants, one in Holmes Beach and one in Illinois.

The Mid-Island Drive In was built in 1952 and served as the Freeman’s business and home for many years, until their decision to lease out the property when staying all winter conflicted with their other business and children’s commitments. However, when it came time to retire, this is where Janice and Skinny Freeman returned, bringing with them their daughter and three grandchildren.

Ten years ago, after Skinny Freeman’s death, the Freeman family decided it was time to honor Janice and Skinny Freeman’s dream of reopening a restaurant in their original location and established Skinny’s Place. Today one of their grandchildren, Clark Freeman, runs the restaurant with his mother Jan, their great staff and the support of his sisters and extended California family.

Skinny’s Place hasn’t changed much since Skinny Freeman’s original Mid-Island Drive In opened its doors; it still has an open air beach vibe, outside tables, picnic benches and the ever present smell of the surf and sand. Old Florida, laid-back, toes in the sand whatever name you give it; Skinny’s is one of a kind on Anna Maria.

The menu hasn’t changed much either, with burgers called Skinny’s and Mid-Island Pounder and chili called Grandma’s Homemade. There are also chili cogs, corn dogs, chicken pieces, fries, onion rings and a kids’ menu, but Skinny’s is really all about the burgers. Beer and wine is available as well as soda, lemonade and other beverages. You can grab a table or eat at the bar where you will place your order, and bring cash no credit cards accepted.

To celebrate their 10 years as Skinny’s Place there will be a party on Dec. 22 in Skinny’s parking lot with a tent and music starting at 11 a.m. and running to 9 p.m. There will be prizes given away and you can get a burger outside. Bring along a chair if you’re staying for the music.

The Freemans’ goal is to keep Skinny’s the way it was originally when the original Skinny fell in love with it. Clark Freeman says his grandmother still likes to tell stories about the early days on Anna Maria when this little piece of paradise didn’t have much to offer except the sun, surf and timeless burgers.

We’re comfortable with the familiar and are drawn to classics that represent a certain place in time. Skinny’s Place is the quintessential Florida beach pub and for those of us who want to slow things down a little, it’s simply classic.


Across from the Manatee Public Beach
3901 Gulf Drive
Holmes Beach
Tuesday through Sunday
11a.m. to 8 p.m.
Closed Mondays
Cash only

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Estate planning challenges

Investment Corner

Unless Congress and the president are able to reach an agreement by the end of 2012, the federal estate and gift tax exemptions will roll back to the $1 million level from their present level of $5.12 million. In addition, estate tax rates are increasing, up to as high as 55 percent from the current level of 35 percent. With all the talk of the impending fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases which will also occur on Jan. 1 if no deal is struck, there hasn’t seemingly been too much attention paid to the estate planning challenges faced by families.

All of a sudden, quite a few people who probably weren’t too worried about estate tax planning now need to be. Before we reach the point of panic, it is highly likely that at some point in the next year we will see action to move the estate tax exemptions back to a more reasonable level, probably in the $3 million range at least. After all, most congressmen and women were somewhat successful in their business careers and many have estates larger than $1 million. They will want to, selfishly, protect their families, just like we do, and I believe action will ultimately be taken.

But, we cannot know for sure what form the final law will take or how long it will take to resolve the situation. There are enough unknowns at this time that those impacted should pay attention and consider actions they might take.

We don’t have enough space here to go into detail on the techniques you could employ to help reduce the potential impact of estate tax, but we can review who might be impacted and recommend that you seek counsel from an estate planning attorney in the next couple weeks to determine your best course of action if you have not already started the process.

Those families with total estate values under $1 million can stand down and enjoy the holidays. There will be no impact to you from the expiration of the current law and the aforementioned rollbacks. Ironically, those with estate values over $5.12 million have probably already taken action to structure their estate with trusts, insurance and other techniques to shelter them from the impact of the potential changes at the beginning of 2013.

Those with estate values in the $1 million to $5.12 million range are affected the most. These folks are perhaps less likely to have taken any action previously, and they and their heirs are now directly in the line of fire if nothing is done. It is not too late to take action, but you need to move quickly at this point to get trusts established or taxable value out of your estate through gifting. Again, consult an estate planning attorney before taking any significant action.

And lastly, keep in mind the most likely scenario is that some of the actions you take now may prove to be unnecessary once the political rhetoric in Washington calms down and some deals are finally negotiated. But again, there is no certainty at this point on any of these issues.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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