Sister act


There are some restaurants in Orlando that should have a revolving door installed. Or an erasable sign, at least. Take this one place in Casselberry, for example. In the past 16 years it has been Melon's, Crickets, Spirits, Heckle 'n Jeckle's, and now, Holly & Dolly's, which leads us to the one continuous factor that has tied them all together.

Actually, there are several continuous factors – mostly being beer, bar food and televisions – but the main one is spelled out over the front, nonrevolving door, and that is Dolly and her twin sister, Holly.

You'll see one or the other running around behind the bar or checking on a table (you might see both of them, but it's hard to tell), athletic women with masses of dark hair and a great deal of energy. They started their joint working careers that included four years as mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, spending wrinkly hours underwater for your tourist pleasure. Apparently tiring of cavorting with the clams, they discovered, Ariel-like, the existence of their legs, and spent 10 years dancing le cancan at Rosie O'Grady's, obviously in rebellion of their fish ancestry.

It was a short spin-and-kick to Melon's, and the dual barmaid gig seemed to be the right one for Dolly Heltsley and Holly Hall. When the place and its liquor license went up for sale, H and D took the bait (no pun intended) and Holly & Dolly's was born. Is it a dream come true? "No," Dolly says honestly, "but it's a steady business and we have a built-in clientele."

The sports bar/restaurant/neighborhood hangout looks typical, the bar being the focal point of the room, stools occupied by truckers and old farmers and students alike. Most of them are nursing beers and staring at the NTN trivia screens, punching half-hearted guesses about Shakespeare and sports into little keyboards. There are tables and booths on both sides, and the atmosphere is definitely more family place than meat market.

I would have expected more seafood on the menu, but the offerings do go beyond bar fare. Grilled grouper or fried tempura shrimp ($8.95 each) come with veggies and rice pilaf, and the kitchen does tuna steak as rare as you want it ($12.95). They also have pasta, sandwiches and a surprisingly long list of steaks available – try to get that at the corner saloon. Of course, bar food is available, but with little twists, like nibbles of gator or chunks of chicken breast served in wings sauce.

DJs on Saturday nights and live bands on Fridays crank up the volume and the crowd, but all in all it's a little "Cheers"-like, with food. "Hi Ed, how are you?" Dolly yells out from the bar, proving my point.


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