Thirty years ago, Barbara and Kevin McLaughlin drove over the bridge to Gasparilla Island. As they explored the quiet streets and beautiful beaches of Boca Grande, a tiny village in the middle of this narrow barrier island, they fell instantly in love with the low-key, Old Florida way of life. That first visit turned into annual vacations at the historic Gasparilla Inn & Club and eventually, they bought a mid-century rambler on a quiet street.
Along the way, Kevin found a perfect spot for a J. McLaughlin store on Park Avenue, in between artist Gail Cleveland’s Smart Studio, a gallery founded by her mother, artist Wini Smart, and Temptation Restaurant, a.k.a “The Temp,” which serves crab Rangoon dip, potato-chip crusted Key West hogfish, chargrilled veal chops and other specialties.
Barbara’s parents live in Naples but because of the quarantine, the family hadn’t seen each other in over a year. But, as soon as everyone got their vaccinations, Barbara began planning a family reunion on Boca Grande. In between learning the fine art of pickleball, measuring the cousins, checking on her Meyer lemon trees and meeting friends and neighbors at Art After Dark at J. McLaughlin, Barbara somehow found time to catch up on her beachside reading.