This hasn’t been a good week for restaurants on Fairbanks Avenue.

First we learned that PR’s Taco Palace would close after three decades. Now comes word that Scratch, the creative little small-plates restaurant that opened in 2013 to critical acclaim will close next week.

A formal announcement has not been made, and attempts to reach manager Ashley Byrd were not immediately successful.

Despite a storefront location that looked out on Fairbanks, Scratch didn’t have great visibility, and it was always difficult to know where to park for the restaurant just off of New England Avenue. But people filled the seats at the bar or one of the few tables to taste dishes like Pork Belly Adobo and Loup de Mer.

In July of 2015, Dustin Haney, who opened Scratch as its chef, parted with his partners and left Central Florida. He is now a merchant marine, which tells you something about the life of a chef,

According to a post on Byrd’s Facebook page, the restaurant will close on Monday.

Mathers french 75

Downtown Orlando has a lot of bars. A LOT of bars. But I don’t think we can have too many as cool as Mathers Social Gathering, which opened recently at 30 S. Magnolia Ave. in a structure known, not coincidentally, as the Mather Building.

According to Mathers’ website, the building was constructed in the late 1800s and was at one time the home of Orlando’s post office, a music school, and a medical office for Dr. James Nixon Butt. Let’s all try to guess what kind of a doctor he was.

Anyway, Mathers Social Club occupies the third and top floor of the building, and walking into the space is like walking into the past. And there is a certain wow factor when you take it all in.

Greenbeat exterior

There’s a new lunch spot in downtown Orlando called Greentbeat, and with a location just across the street from the Orange County Courthouse, it’s a good option for people serving on jury duty. Though deciding the fate of the people on trial might be easier than choosing their lunch items.

Yep, we have another assemblage restaurant, this time with salads. Here, you have to pick two “bases,” meaning the type of lettuce or even nonlettuce, given that quinoa and rice are also options.

prs taco exterior

Blame the train.

PR’s Taco Palace in Winter Park has closed. Owner Perry Inman closed the original location of the Tex-Mex restaurant Saturday after nearly 30 years in operation at that location..

“It’s sad to leave,” he said when reached by phone Monday. “I’m sad, but we’ve had fun.”

Inman blamed the problems with the building, notably a lack of parking, an issue he didn’t have when he first opened in November 1987. PR’s is on Fairbanks Avenue at the railroad crossing, and until a couple of years ago, there was a street that followed along the tracks, angling from Fairbanks Avenue to New York Avenue. Patrons of the bar/restaurant could park along the street next to the tracks.

But when SunRail started operating, officials became concerned with safety along the tracks — never mind that freight trains and Amtrak had been using the tracks for decades — and filled the street in. PR’s customers had to contend for the few spaces in front of the business.

Ironically, trains figure into the bar’s early popularity. Inman said that one of his bartenders came up with the idea to have dollar shots of liquor whenever a train was passing by. So people started anticipating the clang clanging from the crossing signal that indicated a train was coming.

Inman opened a location in College Park last year and he says that PR’s is doing well. He said that as he approaches 60, he’s not interested in working so hard anymore. But he also said that after a little time off, he’d start looking for another location to replace the Winter Park restaurant. There have been other locations for PR's over the years, including one at Kirkman and Conroy Roads in Orlando.

 

 

SJO Dining Deal: $40 of food and drink at Tap Room at Dubsdread for $20

Good Food Change

Orlando favorite K Restaurant Wine Bar has been named to the inaugural Good Food 100 Restaurants list, one of only three Florida restaurants named.

Unlike many of the other restaurant lists that appear throughout the year, the Good Food 100 doesn’t necessarily mean the food is good at any of the restaurants listed, though we certainly know that that is the case with K. Neither does the list have anything to do with reviews or judges or even popularity.

Instead, the list, which is compiled by Good Food Media, is a recognition of restaurants that are transparent with the purchasing and sustainable business practices. In other words, it honors the restaurants that not only say on their menus that they “buy local” and source only sustainable and responsible meats, seafood and produce but those that are willing to prove it.

“It’s very detailed,” Keven Fonzo, K’s chef and owner, said of the application process. Applicants were made to complete a survey that listed all of their food purchases and the food producers. It also required verification of purchase orders for the six categories being tracked, including bread; flours and grains; dairy and eggs; meat and poultry; fish and seafood; and fruits and vegetables.