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lindas sign

Linda’s La Cantina, Central Florida’s oldest restaurant (est. 1947), took a planned vacation that was to last a week, from June 30 through July 6. However, during that time, the restaurant’s chef and butcher tested positive for COVID-19. So needless to say the restaurant did not open on Tuesday as planned. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Wednesday said that all other employees have tested negative for the virus and stated: “This lets us know that all the Precautions we have enacted are working. This also tells us that our customers are not coming to dine sick.” I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’m not sure that last part is necessarily true.

The chef, identified in the posts only as Steve and as the restaurant’s backbone for 41 years, is still sick, according to Wednesday’s post, and the steakhouse will not reopen until he’s well. Kudos to Linda’s for its transparency.

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Roccos exter

I’ve always considered Rocco’s Italian Grille & Bar to be one of the area’s finest Italian restaurants, and I’m pleased to say Rocco Potami’s excellent food travels nicely.

I recently ordered some food to go from the full menu posted on Rocco’s website.

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Total Takeou

Here’s my dilemma: I’m a restaurant critic. It says so right there in the job description.

To be an effective critic, one has to point out the negative aspects of a restaurant alongside the positive ones. Ideally, the pluses outweigh the minuses.

But the minuses, if indeed they exist, are important to convey. They give balance. They give credibility. Criticism, in the basest sense of the word, is not always easy to mete out, and despite what some assume is a stereotypically sadistic trait of anyone who takes on the job, it isn’t fun to do. But in the 32-plus years I’ve been a restaurant critic, I’ve never shied away from it.

Until now.

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Cityworks ext

There are a couple of new reopenings at Disney Springs, though the shopping, dining and entertainment complex is far from back to before.

City Works Eatery and Pour House, one of the Springs’ newer restaurants, which opened shortly before the mandated closing of all restaurants and bars in March, is back pulling the taps – there are about 90 of them – and serving its menu of burgers, tacos and sandwiches.

City Works, shown at top pre-shutdown, was one of the last restaurants I dined in before the shutdown, which happened so swiftly that I wasn’t able to file my review. I’ll have it for you soon.

Splitsville, the bowling themed restaurant, will open on Friday, July 10. If you’re worried about sticking your fingers in the bowling ball holes where others have stuck theres, management would like you to know that they will all be sanitized. And shoe rentals – a hygienic concern even before the pandemic – will still be available with sanitizing, or bowlers may choose to use disposable footwear.

Still shuttered are the Patina Group restaurants Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway and the Edison. Also staying closed for now is Jaléo by José Andrésl. Messages to representatives of those restaurants were not immediately answered.

Walt Disney World is expected to open the gates of the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Saturday, July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow on July 15.

In related news, Florida reported 59,036 new cases last week, the most in a one-week period since the crisis began.

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Whiskey togo ext

Formerly known as Bullet Point Buffet. We’re not really doing buffets anymore, and I was never really comfortable with the allusion of live ammunition. So welcome to the first edition of Newsy Nuggets.

The Whiskey has reopened on Restaurant Row. It had closed last Friday when the governor ordered bars to stop serving on premise drinks. But the Whiskey, despite its name, is actually a restaurant at its core – you’ve had their burger, haven’t you? – so it’s back as of noon today.