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Whiskey logo

Note: Consider this further notice: The Whiskey will reopen on Friday, July 3.

Due to Friday's announcement by the State of Florida for bars to immediately cease all on-premise consumption of alcohol, The Whiskey, a popular Restaurant Row watering hole, has closed until further notice.

The ban on alcohol consumption in bars was made by Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees liquor licenses in the state, on Twitter, because that apparently has become the official method of broadcasting important, life-altering information.

The decision was made after Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.

Earlier in the week, the Knight's Pub, a bar near UCF, had its liquor license suspended after allegations the management was not enforcing social distancing guidelines. In addition, a number of bars and restaurants have closed voluntarily after employees and guests have tested  positive for the coronavirus.

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Beshears Tweet

Following a report of nearly 9,000 new cases of COVID-19, the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation has ordered the suspension of on-premises consumption at all bars in the state.

The announcement was made in a tweet from department secretary Halsey Beshears.

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Save Restaurants

If you’ve been following along on these pages lately you know that restaurants are in dire financial straits. We’re already seeing permanent closings and I fear more are to come.

But a bill with bipartisan support has been introduced in in the Congress that would provide financial support to restaurants.

It has a longwinded name (Congress, as I pointed out): the Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act of 2020.

Call it the RESTAURANTS Act for short.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), would provide $120 billion in grant programs specifically for small restaurants – no large chains or publicly traded companies. The aim is to cover the difference between 2019 revenue and anticipated revenue of 2020, with a cap of $10 million. You can read the full text of the bill here.

The RESTAURANTS Act is a long way from being approved, but you can communicate your support by sending a message to your Members of Congress through the Independent Restaurant Coalition portal.

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Wahlburgers Opening

The downtown location of Wahlburgers, the burger franchise started by the celebrities Paul, Donny and Mark Wahlberg, has permanently closed.

A statement from the public relations firm representing Wahlburgers said: “The restaurant industry has been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately, the Wahlburgers franchisee for the downtown Orlando Wahlburgers restaurant has made the difficult decision to permanently close its doors.”

The franchise was brought to Orlando by well known restaurateur Manny Garcia and his daughter and son-in-law, Gina and Mike Buell. A Wahlburgers in Waterford Lakes remains open.

The downtown location, in a corner space in the SunTrust building at Church Street and Orange Avenue, opened in February 2016 with street-closing party attended by Paul and Mark Wahlberg, shown at top.

The news of the closing comes as another Church Street burger franchise, Hamburger Mary’s, announced that it has closed, temporarily, after learning that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

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Kekes ext

My but Keke’s Breakfast Cafe certainly has grown.

In just a little over 10 years it has grown from two Central Florida locations – first near the Mall at Millenia then on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park – to a franchise with nearly 50 restaurants throughout the state.

It didn’t start out as Keke’s, you may remember. That first restaurant on Conroy Road was originally called Florida Waffle House, and that opened more like circa 2007. But of course that name was eventually challenged. So the owners, brothers Keith and Kevin Mahen, took their shared first two initials and cobbled them into Keke’s.

I hadn’t visited a Keke’s since 2010 when I reviewed the one on Fairbanks Avenue (which had previously been Bakely’s). So when I decided recently that I wanted a big breakfast, including pancakes, but not the cleanup (or the trouble), I gave a call to the location at Conway Avenue and Curry Ford Road in Orlando.