chezvin20 vincent and teri

Vincent and Teri Gagliano held a celebration Tuesday evening to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their restaurant, Chez Vincent. The evening began with a reception in Hannibal's, the bar and lounge next to the restaurant, and followed with a seated dinner for the invited guests with tables in both venues.

I stopped in just for the reception and was greeted by the Gaglianos, both of them beaming and welcoming the regulars who helped keep them going so they could celebrate the twentieth in style.

I first reviewed Chez Vincent in the Sept. 21, 1997, edition of the Orlando Sentinel's Florida magazine. I did a second review in Oct. of 2005 in which I wrote that when I had done the first review, "I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly survive."

Farmhaus salad

I finally stopped in to try Farm & Haus, the little to-go food producer at East End Market.

I stress that I stopped in because a major component of F&H's business model is offering delivery of its prepared meals. I'm sure that helps with overhead, and also allows them to serve more people than could sit at the few available tables there at the market. Otherwise they'd have to charge huge amounts of money for the food.

I can't imagine what those prices would be, because they're pretty steep now.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that food with integrity comes with a premium price. Honest, unprocessed ingredients cost more than mass-produced canned and frozen foods. And I have no doubt about the exceptional quality of the food at Farm & Haus.

But lordy, 10 bucks for a small salad bowl -- $12.25 with tax and tip -- gives one pause.

Bistropark interior

Bistro on Park Avenue, the charming restaurant in the Hidden Gardens, has been sold. The restaurant is currently closed while it undergoes renovations.

Erika Boesch, who bought the restaurant five years ago with her husband, Hugo, said that they had wanted to sell for some time, mainly because they have been separated for four years and divorced for two. "We're still friends," she said, "we just didn't want to work together anymore."

Also, the $11,000 per month rent was a factor. "It's a great location," said Boesch, but it was a "struggle" to make ends meet.

The new owners are Nikki Nielsen and Liz Zucco. Details about the concept and timing to reopen were not immediately available. "I think it will be totally different," Boesch said, adding that she was not authorized to discuss the concept. This article will be updated when new information comes in.

Bistro on Park Avenue occupies the space at 348 Park Ave. N. that for many years was Maison des Crepes. A couple of other French concepts, Restaurant du Park and Jardins du Castillon, also had the address briefly. It became Bistro on Park Avenue in 2006.

In its secluded alleyway location, Bistro on Park was known as a place for quiet rendezvous. In fact, it won the 2017 Most Romantic Restaurant in Scott Joseph's Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

Spice patio

Word is coming in that two downtown restaurants have closed. 

According to sources, the management of Spice Modern Steakhouse on Central Boulevard told employees Sunday that the restaurant was closing. It wouldn't be totally unexpected. Spice, which overlooks Lake Eola, has had three bankruptcy filings in the past seven years and has been under pressure to liquidate its assets.

Attempts to reach the owner, Manny Tato, were not immediately successful. The restaurant's information on its Google search page now reads "permanently closed."

Tato has closed other downtown restaurants, most recently Cantina Verde on Summerlin Avenue, which was open only months. He also had Spice Burgr in the Plaza building on Orange Avenue, which operated less than two years.

Spice Modern Steakhouse once had three locations, the first on Park Avenue where blu on the avenue currently resides. It opened in 2007. Another operated, briefly, in the Church Street Station complex in the current Harry Buffalo space.

Its departure leaves open one of the choicest downtown locations.

The other restaurant said to have closed is Red Mug Diner, which started out as a 24-hour restaurant on Pine Avenue. Chef Mark Dollard, who owns Brick & Fire Pizza and opened Red Mug but was not an owner, left the business more than a year ago. In recent months it was rumored that the space would be halved, with Red Mug, which abandoned the all-day concept shortly after opening, occupying one side and a new sushi restaurant going into the other side.

Red Mug also lists Monday noon hours but is not answering its phone.

These stories will be updated as new info becomes available.

H/T Joe Sarrubbo