Closed for Covid sign

The massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives and is on its way to the president’s desk for signing includes $28.6 billion in funds specifically meant to help small restaurants.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is based on the RESTAURANTS Act – the acronym stands for (deep breath) Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive – that was passed by Congress last year but never introduced in the Republican-led Senate. That bill would have provided $109 billion for restaurants. The American Rescue Plan that the House sent to the Senate last week stipulated $25 billion of the total package for restaurants; the Senate increased it by $3.6 billion.

The revised rescue plan does not include an increase in the minimum wage, which would have had a profound effect on the service industry.

The relief will be in the form of grants – not loans – to individual food and beverage operations, including restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers and microbreweries. Individual restaurants may receive up to $5 million; restaurant groups with up to 20 locations may receive $10 million.

During the initial three weeks the money becomes available, priority will be given to businesses owned and operated by women, people of color and veterans. One fifth of the funds will be set aside for restaurants that grossed under $500,000 in 2019.

Details regarding when the funds will be available and the application process are not yet available.


Bigfin2021 exterior

For the first time since it opened in late 2009, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen has a new chef.

His name is Eric Enrique – we share the burden of having two first names – and he moved to Big Fin from Eddie V’s, just down the the Restaurant Row road. I’ve always considered seafood to be Eddie V’s forte, so I was anxious to see what Enrique would bring to Big Fin.


Avalon Food Hall render

Central Florida’s infatuation with food halls continues, the newest, Marketplace at Avalon Park, scheduled to open sometime in April. Ten businesses have been announced for the opening: Brazas Chicken; Bowigens Beer Company; LemonShark Poke; Rosso Specialty Coffee; Sip and Roll; BBQ50 BBQ; Rosso Specialty Coffee; NOLA Avalon Park; KBBQ Kitchen (Korean); and Cheese To Share (a concept I need to work on).

MAP joins about a dozen other food halls in the works – Mark Baratelli of The Daily City has compiled a good list of them. Two of the halls, in downtown Orlando, will be about a half a block from each other, Bumby Arcade Food Hall and South Orange Provisions Food Hall.


Trizor 15

I've mentioned before how much I like the Chef's Choice Trizor XV knife sharpener. It can convert a blade to the preferred 15-degree angle and then keep it good and sharp with just a few swipes. (Here's a demonstration of mine.)

But the price was a big turnoff for a lot of people.

Right now you can snag one at a great bargain: $105, down from the regular $150. I don't know how long this will last so don't wait. Get one for yourself or for your favorite cook. Remember: a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.

Note: I never endorse items I do not use or would not recommend. If a purchase is made through one of these links, I may receive a commission.



CE dinner menu

This is the second of a two-part recap of the Curated Experiences sponsored by the Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes Orlando. You can read the first part here.

On Saturday evening, the Da Vinci Lawn was staged for a more formal dinner with large round tables, no more than five people to a table, with each place elegantly set with all the forks, knives, spoons and stemware that would be needed for the five-course meal.