The other shoe has dropped in the latest saga concerning the Mingos brand. You'll recall that things got iffy for Mingos when one of its investors was indicted for fraud and was forced to sell off assets. The original Mingos in the Sanctuary condos in downtown Orlando closed recently. Another restaurant that bore the Mingos name in the DoubleTree hotel near UCF will now be known as The Bistro. (Hey, they've got enough on their minds -- they don't have time to come up with clever names.)

There were other Mingos planned -- Mingos Chophouse, Mingos Prime, Mingos the Musical. Needless to say those aren't going to happen.


Elliots signIt looks like we have another contender for this year's "Boy, That Was Fast" award. Elliott's Public House, which took over the space that had been occupied by Brian's restaurant across from Lake Invahoe, is currently shuttered and has the eyeroll producing "closed for renovations" notice on the door. I'm skeptical, even though in my review of Elliott's in September shortly after it opened I noted that the food was better but the ambience was lacking. You'd think that if renovations were actually taking place the phone would be kept in service for the use of the workers and contractors. Instead, Elliott's phone has been disconnected.

It's difficult to know why a restaurant -- any business, really -- would close after such a short time. It's a general rule of thumb that a restaurant won't make money immediately; it's a prospect new restaurateurs should be prepared for. And it's especially disheartening in this situation because Elliott's was making the effort to bring better food to the Ivanhoe Village district.

Although Elliott's life was terribly brief, I think Blackfin has the shortest length between opening and closing this year with five weeks.



JJs burrito sign

Here's another entry in the assemblage category. This time, refreshingly, it isn't a chain restaurant, the people are friendly because they want to be, and the food is better than average.

It's JJ's Grille, a small storefront in a Winn-Dixie plaza on Curry Ford Road in Orlando. The sign claims "grilled fresh food" without being more specific than that. It would seem that it wants to be world fusion, though such generality is seldom a good idea. The website tab says Mexican, the owner is Venezuelan, and there is a Lebanese rice dish. But beyond that, it's a pretty basic unfused menu.

As with other assemblage concepts — Moe's, Chipotle, Italio, etc. — guests choose the ingredients and direct the staff member behind the sneeze guard who puts it all together into what one hopes will be a conglomeration that doesn't suck. Here you can choose a burrito as your food container, or perhaps a pita pocket, or maybe just a bowl to hold it all.


shop-small logoAfter Thanksgiving and the crazy shopping days that followed, including Small Business Saturday, it got me thinking about what it means to Shop Small with regards to the retail wine business. It's just fermented grape juice in a glass bottle, right? Wrong! All wines are not made equal. The wine regions and winemaking processes all vary so widely, which can be confusing. So this poses the question: How do you know which wines are well made and which aren't?

The Farm-to-Table food movement has exploded, and I think the same principles apply to wine. If you want to know what farm your steak or carrot came from, wouldn't you want to know who makes the wine you are going to drink? If you only eat seasonal organic produce, don't you want to know where the wine comes from and what farming practices they use?


Divas DinnerOK, then, let's try this.

Mills Brewpub & Eatery, the FMI Restaurant Group concept that opened in July, is now Divas Dinner Theatre. All previous Internet and social media links for Mills Brewpub now go to divasorlando.com, although the Facebook page still says Mills Brewpub, albeit under a photo of the Divas logo and next to a picture of a drag queen, presumably one of the divas.