What’s the secret behind a twisted biscuit? Don Wilson, owner of the Twisted Biscuit Diner in Tavares, will tell you it’s that the toppings are baked right into the dough. However, the real secret to this thriving business, which opened in November, lies with Wilson’s determination and dedication. At a time when many restaurants are closing their doors, Wilson decided to open his.
Wilson is no stranger to the food industry. A Florida native from Jacksonville, Wilson owned two diners in his 20s. He spent nearly 35 years working up ranks at Sysco, a foodservice distribution company. During his career, Wilson worked closely with the most talented chefs in the southeast, managing operations in Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.
After retiring two years ago, Wilson decided to return to his roots and open up his own place. His idea for the Twisted Biscuit came one day around the breakfast table. That’s when Wilson’s daughter, Lindsay, baked up strawberry biscuits using fresh berries she and her son picked during a school field trip. After sampling Lindsay’s biscuits, Wilson was determined to share her recipe with the world.
The diner produces 500 to 700 biscuits a day with fresh flavors like sage and bacon-cheddar. They also serve specialty biscuits, like the “Slap Your Mama” biscuit, a bacon-cheddar biscuit topped with tomato-bacon gravy, cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, and tomatoes. The “Harley “ biscuit is another bestseller. The dish is prepared with two biscuits, hogfish and Cajun-crawfish sauce.
The Twisted Biscuit serves up a variety of southern and Cajun-inspired burgers and sandwiches. Their burgers are made with Certified Angus Beef and are piled high with toppings such as pulled-beef brisket, smoked by BBQ pitmaster Darrel Hicks.
The Twisted Biscuit also has a full bar, making it a popular place for weekend brunch.
What’s it like to open a business during a pandemic?
“It’s been unique,” Wilson said.
Wilson assures safety is the top priority at the Twisted Biscuit. All employees wear masks, hand sanitizing stations are available and guests can spread out at the restaurant’s indoor and outdoor dining.
Wilson was pleased with Lake County’s response to the pandemic and the mitigation efforts to maintain COVID-19 cases from spreading, so he was confident when choosing to open the diner in November.
While many hospitality industry workers are losing their jobs, Wilson wanted to help create more opportunities. His team includes his daughter, Lindsay, the general manager, and his wife, Gay, the bookkeeper.
The future looks bright for the Twisted Biscuit Diner. At 61, Wilson hopes to franchise the concept one day. He’s inspired by Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC, who didn’t achieve business success until his 60s and 70s.
“I’m young. I told my employees to chase [their] dreams. I’m doing that! Otherwise, I would’ve retired and sat on the lake and said, ‘Yea, good enough.’”
You can visit the Twisted Biscuit Diner daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4101 County Road 561 in Tavares.
View the full menu on their website, www.twistedbiscuitdiner.com.