SeaWorld Orlando Sharks Underwater Grill Restaurant copyPhoto: SeaWorld

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced Thursday a food policy that will focus on responsible and sustainable sourcing. The policy will affect all 12 parks, including SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens.

  • The company announced three commitments:
  • By the end of 2016, SeaWorld will purchase all pork cuts, such as ribs and loins, from suppliers who have announced a commitment to humane farming practices.
  • All eggs will be sourced from cage-free chickens by the end of 2017 – including shell and liquid eggs
  • The company is expanding park menus to include more plant-based options.

The new policy is meant to enhance previously announced commitments, including serving seafood sourced from either sustainably managed fisheries or aquaculture (including the seafood it serves to fish-eating animals in its parks).

“We are committed to responsibly sourcing food for our guests and ambassador team members within our parks,” said SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment president and CEO, Joel Manby in a statement released Thursday. “This announcement builds on SeaWorld’s existing sustainable practice, and this new commitment fulfills goals established with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in March of this year.”

Chief procurement officer Norbert Dean added, “As a company committed to conservation and the welfare of animals, we believe our food procurement can and should reflect a focus on the welfare of animals, a healthier planet and healthier people.”

tony roma interior

I recently got a glimpse of a brand new restaurant that’s about to open and had a chance to taste some of the innovative dishes it will serve. It’s called Tony Roma’s and it will have its official debut in October.

I know, I know. Tony Roma’s has been around for, what, 45 years? But the brand, which is owned by Orlando based RomaCorp, was due for a refresh. (Because, 45 years.)

So the International Drive location has undergone a massive renovation that will serve as a global prototype (you can find Tony Roma’ses in 30 countries, so that’s about as global as you can get).

tony roma fireplacetony roma patio

The refurbishment includes a spiffed up and brighter interior with a welcoming indoor/outdoor bar in the main room, and expanded patio dining that includes a corner fireplace and a commanding view of the Coca-Cola Eye.

The menu (see below) has been refreshed, too, with more than two dozen new items designed by executive chef Bob Gallagher. (Gallagher also oversees the culinary program at TR Fire Grill, RomaCorp’s newest brand, in Winter Park.) Tony Roma’s has always had the nickname “the Place for Ribs,” and that continues to be a specialty.

BCT lineup copy

As was reported here several months ago, Barnie's, which rebranded itself Barnie's CoffeeKitchen in 2011, is reverting to its original name, Barnie's Coffee & Tea.

The re-rebranding -- or is it the un-rebranding? -- reflects the Orlando based company's focus on its retail line of products. The Winter Park cafe will continue to be known as Barnie's CoffeeKitchen.

Barnies logo“Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is a perfect name for our cafe,” said Scott Uguccioni, senior vice president of sales and marketing, “but it never really resonated with our retail partners." Along with the new (old) name, Barnie's will introduce a redesigned logo and refreshed packaging with brighter colors and "whimsical illustrations to improve shelf visibility," according to a release. Barnie's products are currently available in over 2000 locations in seven states.

Barnie's Coffee & Tea was founded in 1980 and has corporate offices in Baldwin Park.


The Daily City is reporting that Pig Floyd's, the popular Urban Barbaloa in the Mills 50 district, will open a second location in Lake Nona after the first of the year. 

Pig Floyd's, which opened in late 2014 and was reviewed here, was an offshoot of the Treehouse food truck and is known for its barbecue-filled tacos among other items.

Pig Floyd's new location will be at 9860 Narcoosee Road, Orlando. 

Lake Nona has been seeing a surge in restaurants, including Canvas, which opened last year, and sister restaurant Chroma, which opened last week. Lake Nona is one of the fastest growing areas of Orlando with a vibrant medical city. UCF recently announced plans to build a hospital there as a companion to its medical school. Pig Floyd's is just the sort of place those students would enjoy.

Yucatan counter

I was surprised when my GPS led me to 1375 S. Semoran Blvd. and the Taste of Yucatan. I was pretty sure I’d paid my last visit to this address years ago. And I’d been here many times before.

Over the years, the free-standing building, which began its life as a Captain D’s seafood restaurant, has had many tenants. After the captain ran this particular franchise aground, it became Thai Chili, which in the late ‘90s was part of a then-surging Thai scene.

Then Two Fat Chefs moved in. That was the name of the restaurant, please don’t accuse me of fat shaming. The name was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a popular BBC program at the time called “Two Fat Ladies,” but the corpulent cooks moniker gave no clue to the restaurant’s cuisine, which was Scandinavian.

That was followed by a string of Mexican restaurants: Las Carretas, Casa Rene and Casa Mexico.

Then it became a Church’s Chicken fast fooder. That’s when I figured I’d walked through that door for the last time. Whoever heard of a Church’s Chicken franchise folding?

I don’t know if it actually went out of business or the franchisee just decided to move on. (The property is still listed as owned by a Church’s LLC.) But the conversion has been completed and the kitchen is once again putting out Mexican food.