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Vol. 17 No. 19 - February 22, 2017


A bit of France on the beach

LaPensee Plumbing Pools Air


Christophe and Marieke Celis invite guests to experience
a taste of France.

What do southern Florida and the south of France have in common? They both border magnificent bodies of water, they both have temperate weather and they both have great food. Now some of the great food from the south of France bordering the Mediterranean Sea is available right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.

Last summer Marieke and Christophe Celis sold their home in France, packed up their three daughters and moved to Florida. After years of working as a chef, Christophe was ready for his own bistro, and after 10 years of visiting Anna Maria the family was ready for a move. Everyone was on board when Marieke found an on-line advertisement for a French restaurant for sale in Bradenton Beach. A week later they were on a plane headed for the Island and their new adventure.

The Celis became the new owners of the French Table on July 1, and were off to a good start, until Hurricane Hermine blew in on Sept. 1 and flooded the restaurant. It was three months before they could reopen, but it did give them the opportunity to redecorate, installing new floors and adding their own personal touches to the restaurant. They were able to reopen just in time for the winter season and have been busy every day since.

The French Table's menu is traditional southern French country cooking. Christophe bakes his own bread every day, and most days there is a special entree. Other entrees include mussels in crème fraiche, sautéed shrimp flambees, grouper mangue, sautéed duck breast, beef in red wine and a French favorite, cassoulet.

Appetizers include grilled mussels, French onion soup, ceviche, salads and pancake with smoked salmon and shrimp. You can, of course, finish with desserts like crème brulee, flan and chocolat mousse. The Celis also are very proud of the expanded wine list with a large selection of French wines, and they also offer a variety of beer. Every dish is homemade with fresh ingredients bought daily.

Marieke is there every day serving their patrons, and you will frequently find one of their three daughters helping out. The couple's moms even help out when they're visiting, adding to the warm relaxed feel of the intimate bistro.

Although the French Table is not open for lunch, the Celis will accommodate private parties of at least 20 for a luncheon. Wedding parties, baby and wedding showers, birthday gatherings or just a nice get together of friends are always welcome.

When you step in you will immediately feel at home and be transported from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mediterranean Sea. Marieke and Christophe Celis want everyone to know the French Table is still open and is still a little bit of France on the beach, with authentic food and some French music thrown in for flavor.


103 Gulf Drive North

Bradenton Beach


Tuesday – Saturday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Closed Sunday and Monday

All major credit cards accepted

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgages worth another look

Investment Corner

I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

I’m bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime

Space limitations don’t’ allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let’s hit some of the highlights.

• Fees are down: The up front mortgage insurance premium applied to all reverse mortgages was reduced from 2.5 percent of the loan amount to 0.5 percent by the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013, as long as the borrower doesn’t tap more than 60 percent of the available credit balance in the first year. Other fees have been standardized and are roughly in line with a traditional home mortgage, but often lenders will issue credits to offset some or all of these other expenses.

• Education: Borrowers are required to attend a consumer counseling session to make sure they understand the nature of the reverse mortgage. The cost of this session is $125

• Borrowing limit: The limit for reverse mortgage credit lines depends on the age of the youngest borrower, current interest rates and the lenders margin. Generally, you can access about half of the value of your principal resident, up to a current maximum value of $625,000.

• Payments: You don’t need to make payment on a reverse mortgage. The money you borrow and accrued interest must be repaid when you no longer live in the home. This can be through a move to another location, or if you pass away. The home will then be sold, the reverse mortgage paid off and any excess above that can be left to heirs.

In the past, advice was generally to take out the reverse mortgage as a last resort when it was obvious additional funds may be needed. Under current guidelines, that advice is outdated. Reverse mortgage lines of credit actually grow over time, giving the borrower the ability to borrow more. So, the current advice in most situations is to establish the line of credit in your mid-60s, when eligible, and instead of borrowing, just let the line of credit rest with a zero balance.

A line of credit for about $125,000 will grow to about $190,000 in 10 years, 290,000 in 20 years and over $440,000 in 30 years. Establishing, but not accessing the line of credit until later in retirement gives the retiree a lot of flexibility. The exact loan characteristics are influenced by the age(s) of the borrowers as well as the current level of interest rates.

In summary, for those who may find themselves real estate rich and liquid asset challenged, a reverse mortgage may be a good option.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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