Chela interior

This week's review of a taco restaurant is Chela Tequila & Tacos in downtown Orlando.

Until very recently, this restaurant was known as Kasa, which did not focus on tacos. It did, however, specialize in small plates, but there wasn't anything about the experience I could recommend.

I can recommend Chela. The food is good, the service is personable, and while the atmosphere is a bit cold and institutional it at least reflects the urban environment in which it is located.


Mykonos ext

Fans of Mykonos, the popular little Greek restaurant that closed more than 15 months ago, take heart: If the permitting gods smile on the Longwood eatery's new hood, it could reopen sometime in March.

According to owner Tina Karoutsos, the restaurant was forced to close when the management of Springs Plaza, where the restaurant had been since 2000, did not renew its lease. She said that the space was needed so that a medical clinic could expand.

So she arranged to take over a space in the same plaza, but on the side facing Wekiva Springs Road instead of State Road 434. The space had previously been occupied by a Japanese restaurant, said Karoutsos, but had been empty for 14 years, so, "We started from scratch, just four walls." It's been a longer process than she had expected, and the last hurdle is the kitchen hood that inspectors originally did not approve.

Originally named Mayerion Mykonos, the restaurant first opened in early 2000. (Karoutsos said this week that the restaurant opened in January of 2001, but my initial review was published in the Orlando Sentinel in March of 2000, and the paper had a strict policy of not allowing me to write a review before a restaurant had opened.)

Mayerion, a Greek word meaning open kitchen, was dropped along the way, but Mykonos had many fans that mourned its closing. I've been hearing from several of them over the past several months, asking if I knew anything about its reopening. Figuring they were going through the stage of denial that we experience when a loved one passes on, I tried to be encouraging even as I secretly suspected the reopening of Mykonos was a Greek myth.

Thanks to one of those readers who staked out the space and got Karoutsos's phone number to me, I'm happy to report its return is imminent. I'll let you know when they have an opa-ning date.

Grills exterior

I've lost track of all the businesses that have occupied the space at 4315 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. I'm pretty sure my first encounter with the massive property on the shore of Lake Fairview was with Shooters Waterfront, an Orlando version of the Intracoastal Waterway hot spot from Ft. Lauderdale that opened here in 1990.

I know that it was a nightclub called Park Avenue, and I seem to remember that it was also known as Empire at one point.

Tim Webber, who operated a popular catering business for years in Orlando took over the space in 1996. Tim Webber's Pavilion by the Lake was a catering commissary as well as a place for private functions and parties. When I wrote in the Orlando Sentinel in November 1996 about a Sunday brunch he offered at his new place, I began the review, "What a smart thing Tim Webber has done." Two months later he filed for bankruptcy.

So to say that the property has had a troubled past is perhaps an understatement.

Ron and George

George Miliotes has announced the appointment of Ron Rupert as executive chef for his long-awaited Wine Bar George at Disney Springs. Along with the announcement came word that the restaurant is now scheduled for a spring opening. The statement even specified spring of 2018, so that's encouraging.

WBG was first announced here in Dec. 2015, when Miliotes was still getting his paychecks from Darden Restaurants. We covered the ground breaking ceremony in Nov. 2016 and may have even mentioned in the middle of last year that the wine bar would be open by now.

But the delays are probably an indication of the scope of the project. Don't confuse "wine bar" with a small operation. Wine Bar George will be a two-story operation with seating for 210 guests. When he first announced the concept, Miliotes estimated it would cost between $4 and $6 million.

carmel kitchen logo

Maybe they should have offered tacos.

Carmel Kitchen Wine Bar, a fledgling chain out of the Tampa area, has closed its Winter Park location barely five years after opening there. The casually upscale concept had previously tried a second Central Florida location, in Altamonte Springs, that was shorter lived.

Reviewed here in 2013, Carmel, which opened with the name Carmel Cafe but changed to Kitchen, presumably to ease its way into other states where the name might already be in use, was warmly accepted for its food and atmosphere, if not immediately for its service. When it opened, it featured menus and wine lists on iPads, with varying results -- the information was not always accurate and some guests recoiled at the thought of using devices that had just been finger-swiped by guests at another table.