Six-year-old Reagan and 4-year-old Emma excitedly discover the treasure chest of beads as soon as they enter the restaurant with dad and mom, James and Laurel Hughes. They've come to Rapscallions, a restaurant run by James and Shael Morgan, which overlooks Bell Lake in Land O' Lakes.
It's Emma's birthday so she has been given the choice of where she would like to go for lunch. Emma loves to eat out on the deck. Curious ducks swim up and, to the delight of Reagan and Emma, they are happy to accept the snacks the girls anxiously offer.
For the older children, Shael and James designed a game room complete with arcade games as well as pool and air-hockey tables. So as parents relax over coffee, conversation and dessert, their restless offspring can work off some energy with a game of air-hockey.
Rapscallions has been under the management of James and Shael for six years now.
"We were always in the restaurant business," said Shael. "Since our college days at the University of Florida when James ran a Cici's Pizza and I worked at a Ruby Tuesday's."
They met in the marching band at UF; James really enjoyed the fact that the band got into all the football games. Shael, being a music major, was more absorbed in the music. James majored in architecture, which proved serendipitous after he purchased the restaurant. The building had been a house, constructed in the 1920s, before being expanded and becoming the Lakeside Grill and Lounge in the 70s. Not only did James and Shael give the restaurant a new name six years ago, but they began a renovation that would give it the flavor they loved - a "Parrot Head," Caribbean style.
James has used his knowledge of architecture to modify the four large rooms, which include a cozy bar with high top tables and five television sets. The deck serves as a fifth room with the best decor you could wish for - an endless expanse of water reflecting the ancient cypress trees and palms which hug the lake. And on Friday and Saturday patrons flock to the deck to enjoy being entertained by local bands that play till closing time.
Shael is a culinary artist. She has won two chowder competitions, one in South Tampa and one in Crystal River. James mentioned that she "accidentally" won two chili cook-offs as well. She did not realize that the recipes entered were to be exclusively chili entrees. Nevertheless she went ahead and came of victorious. Her seafood chowder is the signature dishes of Rapscallions; a recipe that no one knows but Shael herself. With an extensive menu there is something for everyone's taste.
Unbeknownst to many Land O' Lakes residents Rapscallion's has been gathering a following. The food is upscale while the atmosphere says "come in your Hawaiian shirt and flip flops." And besides the food, the atmosphere and the relaxation, like little Emma you can even come and feed the ducks.