The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 25 - April 3, 2013


Brewing coffee, spinning stories

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Louise Bolger | sun
Matthew and Beverly Lesnick spin stories and
brew coffee at the Island Coffee Haus.

What do mermaids and coffee have to do with each other? You might think not much but then of course Anna Maria is an island and practically everything has to do with the ocean.

Beverly and M.J. Lesnick opened Island Coffee Haus in November of last year hoping their vision of a local neighborhood coffee house was just what was needed in Holmes Beach. The comfortable shop has sofas and antique tables inviting you to linger over your brew, chat with a neighbor or check your e-mail with their free wi-fi connection.

The Island Coffee Haus has all kinds of coffee drinks, including blended drinks like Mocha Chip and Coconut Creame, smoothies and tea. They also carry pastries, prepare sandwiches for both lunch and breakfast and have juice and water available. The baked goods are either made in house by Beverly Lesnick or purchased locally some as close as Pine Avenue.

M.J. Lesnick had been visiting Anna Maria for 12 years and Beverly Lesnick was living and working in Tampa after living in the Azores for two years where getting together over coffee is part of the culture. With Beverly’s experience managing in the food service industry for a large hotel chain and opening up two Starbucks in Tampa they felt opening a coffee shop on the Island was a natural next step. In August of 2012 Beverly Lesnick gave up her corporate job, moved to Anna Maria and set the wheels in motion.

Not only did Beverly Lesnick bring with her to the Island her son Matthew Lesnick who works in the shop but she also brought her Great Great Grandmother’s Story of the Mermaid. The fable tells the story of a young man wandering the beach with a mug of coffee when he sees a beautiful pink dress. A mermaid appeared and said if you treasure my pink dress I will marry you. They married and displayed the pink dress over the mantel until one day the pink dress was gone and so was the mermaid. The man, no longer young, continued to find his coffee waiting each morning and continued to wander the beach.

Beverly Lesnick turned her family story into the logo for her coffee house complete with a beautiful pink dress displayed above the counter. You can even buy T-shirts, hats and coffee mugs with the Island Coffee Haus’ pink mermaid logo as well as coffee to take home and brew yourself.

Meeting people from around the world is one of the most satisfying parts of owning Island Coffee Haus, says Beverly Lesnick. She loves her new business which is something she always wanted and she loves Anna Maria Island fulfilling another dream of hers to live near the water.

Mermaids are legendary aquatic creatures with sightings being reported from the time of Columbus, so if you want to see one up close come to the Island Coffee Haus where M.J. and Beverly Lesnick are “Mermaids In Training.” Great coffee served with a dash of fantasy.


5350 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach

7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All major credit cards

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgage land mines

Investment Corner

This last weekend I saw former Sen. Fred Thompson promoting reverse mortgages in a TV commercial. About a decade ago I wrote here in The Sun about “Reverse Mortgages,” which are a vehicle that can be used by seniors to convert the equity in their primary residence to an income stream by borrowing against that very equity. My conclusion was that this vehicle should not be used unless the homeowner had no other solution to generate income to support their lifestyle, with the negatives being the very high fees to establish the reverse mortgage and the eventual end to the income source when the equity value was fully tapped.

A lot has changed since the time that article appeared in 2003. The residential housing collapse which began in 2007 caused the banks involved in reverse mortgages to take large losses as the equity value they loaned to seniors evaporated. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Met Life have all exited the reverse mortgage market and are no longer writing loans. Their exit has paved the way for dozens of smaller, potentially less savory firms to come into the market and create danger for homeowners.

First, let’s review the concept of a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage allows you to receive either a lump sum or monthly distributions, which essentially amount to borrowing a portion of the equity in your home and using the money for whatever you desire. The company underwriting the reverse mortgage charges interest on the amount borrowed, but unlike a traditional home equity loan, no monthly repayment of principal and interest is required.

The amount borrowed and the accrued interest continues to accumulate until you sell or no longer live in the home. At the time the home is sold, the reverse mortgage balance paid off. While in the home, the homeowner is still responsible for maintenance, taxes and insurance on the home.

To take advantage of a reverse mortgage all owners of the home must be at least 62 years of age, and the home must be your principal residence. Because of the up-front origination fees you should only consider a reverse mortgage if you plan on living in the home for at least five years. Also, there cannot be any other mortgages on the property. Any small remaining mortgage balances can be paid off using funds from the reverse mortgage.

I suggest visiting to learn more about the concept of reverse mortgages and to learn about lenders active in our area. I think it is important to be careful about selecting a lender, as stories are emerging about some seniors losing their homes because one spouse was not added to the reverse mortgage deed, and had no rights to the home when the other spouse passed away.

Normally, under a proper reverse mortgage arrangement, a homeowner should never be forced from their home, assuming of course they can continue to pay the taxes and insurance which is their obligation under the reverse mortgage arrangement. Retaining an attorney to review the reverse mortgage documents would be a good idea. I still consider the reverse mortgage as a last resort, and advise you to proceed with caution in selecting a lender if you decide to proceed.

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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