Dexter lake maryNew information coming in on the status of the four Dexter’s restaurants. As reported earlier, and confirmed in this story, Greg Peters, founder of Graffiti Junktion, is part of a partnership that took over the Thornton Park and Winter Park locations.

I confirmed that John Hoffmeister, who was one of the partners with Dexter Richardson and Adrian Mann, has retained the Lake Mary store. In a phone conversation Friday morning, Hoffmeister said that he isn’t sure if he will hold on to the restaurant or sell it. “Right now, I am currently back in control of everything,” he said. “I’m possibly selling everything but now 100 percent sure.” He said that if he did sell to a party that has shown interest, he would likely stay on as the general manager to run things. “I expect to be here another five to 10 years,” he said.

Hoffmeister started as a dishwasher at the Dexter’s on Fairbanks Avenue 30 years ago and worked his way up through the kitchen and into management.

Hoffmeister also confirmed that the owners of the Windermere Dexter’s are Tom and Holly Ziupsnys, who also own a restaurant called Dulcetto in Championsgate. The Ziupsnyses have not returned repeated calls.

As I told you in my article Thursday, the Thornton Park and Winter Park Dexter’s will bring back some old items that had been taken off the menu over the years, including the Chicken Tortilla Pie.

Hoffmeister said that he does not plan to make any big changes at Lake Mary. “We’re killing it up here,” he said.


dexter pie

As I first reported last month, the Dexter’s restaurants in Thornton Park and Winter Park have been sold to a group that includes Graffiti Junktion founder Greg Peters. Peters confirmed Wednesday that the sale had been finalized.

Drew Weisner, who has been with Dexter’s for several years, will oversee the operations of the two restaurants, Peters said. Speaking by phone, Peters said that they plan to restore the restaurants to their earlier, more popular days and will bring back some old menu favorites, including the Chicken Tortilla Pie. (The Chicken Tortilla Pie, shown above, was always a guilty pleasure of mine.)

Other key staff members are expected to be kept on, and guests probably won’t start noticing any changes for another month, I’m told.


Roccos bar

Ever since I first reviewed Rocco’s Italian Grille & Bar, in October of 2006, I’ve considered it to be one of the finest Italian restaurants in the area. And since I don’t get the chance to return often enough, I jumped at the invitation to dine there recently to try some of the dishes that owner Rocco Potami rotates through his menu.

Roccos burrata1

Potami started by serving my guest and me an appetizer of Bresaola, the air-cured beef that is a specialty of Northwest Italian, and fresh Burrata, often known as a creamier mozzarella. The cheese was topped with shaved Parmesan and fresh arugula leaves. Potami admonished us not to put any pepper on the burrata, which I probably would have done to perk up the mild cheese. But with the peppery notes of the arugula, nothing else was necessary.


Burger generic

It was another hotly contested category but we have the finalists for Best Burger in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Check out the list below and place your ballot.

You may vote for only one restaurant, and please vote just once.

After placing your vote, leave a comment below telling us why you like your selection (be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in you comment otherwise we won't know which one you're talking about). We may use your comments when we announce the winners.

Please note: Even if you placed a vote during the nominating phase, you must vote for your favorite in the finals; all the votes received during the nominating phase have been zeroed out. 

Voting ends Nov. 28. The Winners will be announced in the Nov. 29 edition of Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide's eletter. To subscribe, text SJO to 66866.



FoodFirst LogoAnother restaurant brand is moving its headquarters to Orlando. To downtown Orlando, yet. What’s more, it’s moving into the same building that already is home to a global restaurant brand. And neither one has a restaurant in the downtown area.

FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc., is the company that is moving in. You probably don’t recognize that name, but you’re likely familiar with Brio Tuscan Grille and Bravo Cucina Italiana, two Italian brands with locations in the area. (Well, there was a Bravo at the Dellagio plaza but it closed about a month ago.) FoodFirst is a new company that formed in Columbus, Ohio, which is where Brio and Bravo got their starts. Currently, those two brands are the only ones in FoodFirst’s portfolio, but that’s almost certain to change.

That’s because FF’s Founder, Owner-Partner, Chairman & CEO is Brad Blum, who for many years was an executive with Darden Restaurants and was president of the Olive Garden division. After leaving Darden, Blum had stints as CEO of Burger King and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. He was also the owner of Dogmatic, an upstart hot dog concept on E. 17th Street near Union Square in New York that is closed.

But throughout that time, Blum has kept his home in Winter Park. Thus the move from Columbus to Orlando. Another reason: Columbus vs. Orlando.