The end has arrived for a Florida citrus institution in the Tampa Bay area. Citrus Country Groves served its last orange ice cream yesterday, before shutting its doors forever. I visited the Clearwater store during its final hours.
Citrus Country's orange is the best soft-serve ice cream I've ever had the pleasure to consume. Made with real orange juice, replete with bits of pulp, this frozen citrus swirl is a most refreshing antidote to the Florida heat. And it actually tastes like orange—what a concept!
For more than 60 years, citrus cognoscenti have flocked to the two stores for their prized Indian River fruit and fruit products. The original opened in 1946 as Orange Blossom Groves in Seminole; the second opened three years later on U.S. Route 19 in Clearwater. When founder Al Repetto sold the business to Jim Guedry in 2005, the groves were rechristened. But all that is juice under the spigot now. At the Clearwater site, the citrus store will soon bear new fruit as an automotive dealership.
Citrus Country Groves (closed)
18200 US 19 N (SW corner Belleair Rd)
Clearwater, FL 33764-6513 (map)