tonyroma 4

I think it's high time for another Supper Club, how about you?

For some time now, I've been telling people about the new and improved Tony Roma's Orlando. The restyled restaurant is not the Tony you used to know, it really is a better place, both in the the atmosphere and the food.

Then I figured, why not just show you? So I've partnered with the Tony Roma's to put together an evening of good food and drink. We'll even spice things up by starting with a hands-on activity making Chef Bob's Spice Rub -- and you'll get to take your concoction home with you.

Cost of the evening is $82 plus tax -- $86.92 -- which includes gratuity. That's a four-course dinner with pairings. It's a special offer just for you.

The full menu is posted on the Supper Club page, where you can also purchase your tickets. Seating is limited, so hop on it.

Unfamiliar with Supper Club? Here are some FAQs about our gatherings. (Actually, few of these questions have been asked all that frequently, but they're still worth reading if you'd like to learn more.) First thing to know: It really isn't a club and there aren't any membership dues or initiation rites -- we're just a bunch of people who enjoy good food and drink and being with others who feel the same. And yes, single diners are always welcome!

conway cafe damage

Conway Cafe, the little diner on Hoffner Avenue in South Orlando, has closed. Lenny Mosse, the owner since 2012, said that he has been under heavy debt for some time, but the problems caused by Hurricane Irma were "the last straw."

LIke many residences and businesses, Conway Cafe lost power during the storm. The cafe did not get it back until Sept. 13, but the air conditioning system was damaged and could not be repaired for two more days. Mosse said that he threw out approximately $4000 worth of food and estimates total damages at $8000 to $10000. At top is a photo of the damage that was posted on the restaurant's Facebook page.

"I couldn't exactly run a generator there," he said when reached by phone Thursday. "You can't run it indoors and it would have been stolen in that neighborhood as soon as I fell asleep next to it."

Mosse said he had been trying to sell the restaurant since March through a broker but had not had any interested buyers. 

He said he will declare bankruptcy and "get a job for a corporation and let someone else worry about" the business.

Murphy dinner cupcakes

Earlier in the summer I received an intriguing invitation from an assistant to U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy: "Congresswoman Murphy would like to offer an invitation for you to tour downtown Sanford's exciting restaurants," the note read. "She would be honored if you would join her on this food tour." The honor would be mine, I replied, and we set up a date.

Murphy, a Democrat representing Florida's 7th Congressional District, is the first Vietnamese-American woman -- and only the second Vietnamese-American -- elected to Congress. Her family fled Communist-controlled Vietnam when she was six months old. She, her parents and brother were rescued by the U.S. Navy when the boat they were on lost power. She defeated the 23-year Republican incumbent, John Mica, in the 2016 election.

Murphy, 39, lives in Winter Park with her husband, Sean, and two children. But she wanted to showcase the burgeoning restaurant scene in Sanford, so we arranged to meet at The Corner Cafe near her Sanford office.

Magical dining month logo

Visit Orlando is extending the dates for its annual restaurant promotion, Magical Dining Month, to October 12. The reason, of course, is the loss of momentum for the popular event that occurred as people prepared for the possible impact of the hurricane earlier in the month and the cleanup and loss of power and supplies that prevented an immediate return to business as normal.

Historically, Magical Dining Month has been confined to the calendar days of September, though in recent years it has started with a "preview week" beginning in 
August.

The extension is voluntary for the participating restaurants, more than a hundred spread out over the Central Florida region. So far, more than half have indicated they will offer the special menus through Oct. 12.

Magical Dining Month restaurants offer a special menu of three courses for $35, often representing quite a savings over a restaurant's regular prices for the same meal. Restaurants pledge $1 from every MagDinMo meal sold to a charity chosen by Visit Orlando. This year's beneficiaries are Freedom Ride and BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.

It would be surprising for any restaurants to reject the extension -- Magical Dining Month is a boon to business during a historically slow time for restaurants. And with the hurricane -- possibly hurricanes -- causing a disruption, more business would be a good thing.

In case you missed it, here's a tutorial on how to get the most out of Magical Dining Month.