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Everything old is new again at the Quaker

The landmark bar is moving to new digs in Dade City, but its familiar owner, booths and trusty crow mascot are coming along.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002

DADE CITY -- Landmarks can move.

The Quaker Bar, a fixture in downtown Dade City for decades, was shuffled from its location on N Seventh Street this year when the property sold, but owner Margy Cosentino said she wasn't about to give up a business and a clientele that are part of her life.

"The customers sort of feel like, "This is ours,' " Cosentino said Friday. "And I like the people who come in, I like the people I work with, I like being here, and I like this town. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

The Quaker will open soon in its newest location -- the third in its history -- along Meridian Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets.

Overseeing the ongoing work at the new location, the bar's unofficial mascot -- a large, bespectacled, sculpted crow in a top hat -- is perched against a side wall. He's a reminder that the Quaker will always be the Quaker, Cosentino said.

Already, the trademark drive-through package window is open for business, although until a traffic lane is painted in the side alley to keep motorists from parking there, it's more of a walkup than a drive-through.

Sitting amid decades of souvenirs and furniture inside her bar's new home, Cosentino said she's working as fast as she can for a grand reopening. The accumulated treasures of bar life include a portrait of the bar's familiar Quaker logo in stained glass and a few old bottles of the Quaker brand of liquor that lent the establishment its name in the 1940s.

Cosentino said she came down to Florida from her native Stamford, Conn., sometime around 1974 and went to work for the original owner of the Quaker, Robert Sumner, whom she knew as "Mr. Bob."

Cosentino admits she's a fixture at the Quaker, but she won't talk about her age. "I let people wonder," she said with a smile.

She said she couldn't bear the thought of letting the bar die, and she wouldn't dream of leaving the town where she raised four children, including her youngest son Chris Nyman, now a pitcher on the Pasco High baseball team.

The bar started out at Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street, then moved a block north in the early 1970s.

The bar in time even became part of the language in Dade City.

In legal and newspaper circles, the "Quaker Privilege" or "Quaker Rule" came to mean that anything said inside the Quaker was off the record. Things discussed in the bar stayed in the bar.

Robert Sumner's son, James, sold the property on Monday to businessman Otto Weitzenkorn's family partnership for $310,000. But Cosentino has owned the liquor license and business since 1989.

When she learned of the impending property sale, she said she was determined to find a new home for the Quaker.

She found it through a newspaper classified ad. "I'm really excited about this," she said. "I think it's going to be great."

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