Veteran-Owned Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread Takes Off - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Veteran-Owned Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread Takes Off

Veteran-Owned Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread Takes Off

Before selling her award-winning Scottish shortbread all over the world, local business owner Mary Katherine Mason unexpectedly went to war.

Mason, who grew up in the Greater Tampa Bay area, was a star athlete from middle to high school. Unfortunately, due to an injury her senior year her athletic career ended.

She then attended the University of Southern Florida in 2001 but she did not feel right because she was not participating in any sports.

Everything changed on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When 9/11 happened something sparked in me that was saying, ‘I think you need to serve your country’,” said Mason. “It kept gnawing at me.”

So she joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves at the end of her freshman year. She had family members who were Marines and she decided to join because she did not want to take the easy way out.

“If I’m going to serve my country, I’m going to do the hardest route and be the best,” she said.

So she did. Mason completed her training in December of 2002 and came home. She was expecting to be there for a while, continue her college classes, and watch Tampa Bay play in the Super Bowl, but that did not happen.

“I went to my first drill unit in Orlando, and my unit was activated right away,” said Mason.

She actually flew over the Super Bowl on her way to Kuwait. Once the invasion of Iraq started, her unit started breaching north. They ended up being part of the Battle of Nasiriyah where U.S. Army PFC Jessica Lynch was captured.

“We were the convoy right behind theirs,” said Mason.

Unfortunately, Mason was also injured during that battle. She was thrown off the top of a truck, landed on a fuel hose, and shattered her foot. Her USMC career, however, did not end there. She stayed in the military for six years and was honorably discharged in 2008.

During that time, Mason also graduated from college and started working for her uncle in the hospitality industry. This is also when she started working on her side hustle, Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread.

“My mother used to make her grandmother’s shortbread recipe from Scotland and she handed down the recipe to me,” said Mason.

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Mason would make shortbread for her hotel owners at Christmas, and one day she was encouraged to enter the shortbread competition at the Scottish Highland games in the Orlando area.

Mason entered as the 31st out of 32 competitors and won first place. From there, she created Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread and she ran it as a small business for nine years.

“When Covid happened I lost my 13 year corporate career in the hotel industry and needed to make income for my family’s survival,” she said. “My husband hadn’t had a job for over a year and a half, we wanted to renovate our home and I knew I had to do something. I knew this was the ‘push’ I needed to give Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread a go and it looks like the rest is history!”

With the help of the East Pasco Incubator Kitchen and the many tools that the Pasco EDC SMARTstart program has to offer, her business began to truly flourish.

Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread is located at 37845 Meridian Ave. in Dade City, FL, and the products can be shipped all over the world.

By Celia Goodyear.

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