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Beefy arsonist

Orlando Police have arrested a suspect in the arson fire of the sandwich restaurant Beefy King.

John Cairl Huff III, 36, of Mount Dora, was taken into custody Tuesday night and is being held in Orange County jail. Bond has been set at $3,500.

Huff was apprehended at Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, which sits across a side street from Beefy King on Bumby Avenue, after staff at the coffee bar called police to report an unruly trespasser. According to a police report, one of Drunken Monkey’s employees reported seeing Huff Monday night behind Beefy King, which is not open evenings, holding lighters. Not literally a smoking gun, but close.

Larry Hardin, co-owner of the business, said Wednesday that Huff “had been hanging around our place for several weeks,” and that he had asked him to leave several times because he was making people feel uncomfortable. Hardin also said that Huff seemed to be high or intoxicated. On Monday night, before the fire, Hardin said he told staff to let him know if Huff was still hanging around when the coffee bar closed for the night and he would call police. Instead, Huff was seen lying on the sidewalk in front of the business.

“When I heard about the fire he was the first person I thought of,” Hardin said.

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Beefy King sign

Beefy King door

Orlando Fire Department is investigating an early morning fire at popular sandwich restaurant Beefy King as a possible arson. The fire, which occurred in the early morning hours of Tues., Nov. 12, started outside the Milk District restaurant and was contained before it could spread inside, said owner Roland Smith. However, because of damage to the kitchen and interior caused while extinguishing the blaze, the restaurant is currently closed.

Smith said he received a call from OFD at about 1:30 a.m. saying that firefighters were onsite dealing with a fire in progress. As he approached the Bumby Avenue restaurant around 2 a.m., he said the building was covered in smoke. Smith describes the scene in the video below.

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FWClassic19 band

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic has grown as large as its name. What once was contained to the causeway that links the two hotel properties now spreads out along the waterway and extends to themed areas around the pool and in various courtyards and even into the hotel, where the Bubble Lounge was festooned with champagne colored balloons as attendants poured high end sparkling wines.

All of the event was moved indoors for the Friday edition of the of the two-night festival because of rain. I can recall that happening at least once before, in 2011, so I know the hotel staff as a good contingency plan. But there’s no doubt that the Food & Wine Classic is at its best when its outdoors.

FWClassic19 tents

And it was on Saturday evening when I attended along with a few thousand other folks. Despite the high turnout, lines for food and drink were short and manageable. That could be because there were so many food and wine stations that it kept everyone spread out.

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Twisted Root Exterior

  • Twisted Root Burger Co., a Texas-based chain, will open its first Florida shop in Winter Park next week. The burgerie is known, apparently, for half-pounders, some of which are made with ostrich, rabbit and camel meat. The exotic meats are only available occasionally. I’m guessing the camel burgers are only served on Wednesdays, but I could be wrong. TRBC is scheduled to open on Tues., Nov. 12, in the Grove at Winter Park, 4270 Aloma Ave.
  • A couple of Steak ’n Shakes (Steaks 'n Shake?) have closed in Central Florida, probably because of their irrational refusal to offer camel burgers. Actually, the parent company is trying to get franchisees to take over the restaurants along with a hundred or so others across the country.

  • The 10th annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is finally here, tonight and tomorrow night (Nov. 8 and 9) from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Because it’s supposed to rain tonight, the event has moved indoors to the spacious Hemisphere Ballroom in the Dolphin hotel. If you’re going tomorrow, I’ll see you there rain or shine.
  • Don't forget, Wed., Nov. 13, is the Soco Five Year Anniversary Collaborative Dinner with visiting chefs from American Kitchen, Antonio's, and Glass Knife, plus cocktail pairings from the Edison. I've updated the article about the dinner with the menu. Looks pretty tasty.

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Maithai interior

Downtown Orlando's central business district now has three Thai restaurants, and two are within a block of each other.

Mai Thai recently took over the space at 22 E. Pine St. vacated when Artisan’s Table moved to Church Street. That puts it just a hop, skip and a tom kha gai away from Napasorn, at 56 E. Pine and close to Thai Cafe on Magnolia Avenue.

Mai Thai wants to be known as an Asian fusion restaurant, though like everything else in life wanting it doesn’t make it so. About the only thing fusionesque on the menu is the Duck Tacos, but I’ll come back to those in a moment.

MT apparently also wants to be both a restaurant and a nightclub. Apparently, after dinner service the tables and chairs are moved out of the dining room to clear way for a dance floor. That might make one wonder how serious a restaurant it wants to be, fusion or otherwise.