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Lots of New Restaurants Opening

Sushi Cafe exterior

New restaurants all around, some now open, some up and coming.

Atlantic Beer and Oyster, the first of the three reported new restaurants to occupy the former Matilda's space (and a dozen other concepts), at 358 Park Ave. N. in Winter Park opens today. There are supposedly two more restaurants imminent, but names have not been released. (And no one has confirmed my announcement a couple of weeks ago about the chef — no one has denied it, either).

Bungalower has reported on a flurry of new places, too, including Spice Burgr (because in this age of online searching it's always a great idea to misspell the name of your business) in the Chase Plaza downtown. It will open in the storefront that had been the short-lived home of Meltz (please see comment above about misspelled names).

Also, Chicago's Stuffed Pizza is now open in the Church Street District, next to the railroad tracks and Hamburger Mary's. And Mamak, which bills itself as an Asian street food restaurant, is set to open in September on Colonial Drive in the Mills 50 district. Hmmm, Asian street food — seems to me I've seen that Hawked somewhere else in the area.

Speaking of names, the former Barducci's Italian restaurant that closed at 7550 University Blvd. Will become Sushi Cafe (apparently Sushee Cafe wasn't available). Actually, having a restaurant so straightforwardly named may be just as confusing to search engines as a misspelled one.

Add to those openings and the previously announced ones of Soco, Capa, Plancha, Highball & Harvest (don't get me started on that name), and Two Chefs Seafood Bar, all to open in September, which is Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month, and we've suddenly got a busy dining schedule ahead.

Cariera's to Reopen Under New Ownership

Carieras exterior

You may have noticed the Cariera's in the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips has been closed. It has sported a banner out front of late that says that it is "Opening soon under new ownership." I can tell you now that that ownership is Intram Investments, the parent company of neighbor Bistro CloClo. Intram's Kelly Froelich tells me that they will keep the Cariera's name — Cariera's Cucina Italiano, to be precise — and just do some basic sprucing up: refresh the ceiling and the flooring, "Just give it a little bit of love it hasn't been getting."

Froelich says that Intram bought the business from Tom and Debbie Cariera and will keep the same concept. "It was really a hot spot in the neighborhood for a long time," she says.

Froelich says the company is looking to reopen in late November.

Smashburger to Join Local Burger Battle

Smashburger sign

What's that? You say we don't have nearly enough burger joints in Central Florida? Well, hang on, another franchise is moving into the area.

Smashburger, which originated in Denver, will take over the space on Colonial Drive that was for a very short time the home to Boardwalk Fresh Burgers and Fries. (Apparently you didn't want that particular burger joint, which opened in mid 2012 and closed, well, I don't know when it actually closed. Just was driving by one day and noticed the building, which started life as a Denny's, was vacant.

Smashburger's gimmick is that the ground beef is smashed into a patty right in front of you, because this apparently is what we've been missing from the interactive dining experience. The chain, a fast casual concept, is also known for localizing a burger offering. Can't wait to see what toppings they think best represent Orlando.

My call to company headquarters has not been returned for confirmation, but the sign in the window at 3162 E. Colonial Drive seems pretty decisive. 

Have you been to a Smashburger elsewhere? What do you think? How would you compare it to Five Guys, Shake Shack, Burger 21, BurgerFi or, for that matter, Boardwalk Fresh Burgers and Fries? Leave a comment below.

Thanks to Flogger Joe Sarrubbo for the tip.

New Indian Restaurant in Hannibal Square is Mynt

The name of the restaurant that will replace Fresh Cafe, which closed recently in Winter Park's Hannibal Square, is Mynt. The name was originally to be Blue Ginger, but after I reported that Tuesday the owners sent word that the name had changed. Someone in here there must be a joke about the restaurant being Mynty Fresh.

The restaurant is from the same owners as Saffron on Restaurant Row. One of the owners tells me that he is looking to do a "high end Indian restaurant with all natural meats and fresh produce."

With American Gymkhana set to open soon in the former Raga space, also on Restaurant Row, it looks like we might be looking forward to a surge in Indian restaurants, which is just fine with me.

Blue Ginger is looking for an early October opening. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 27th August 2014

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