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tako cheena interior

I can’t remember any restaurant taking as much time between announcing it would be moving into a new space and the actual move as Tako Cheena did. It was in July of 2015 that I first told you the popular fusion concept would take over the former Forbidden City Chinese restaurant space just a few doors away from its original Mills 50 location. Even the recently opened Delaney’s Tavern only took three years, and it included building a boutique hotel on top of the restaurant.

I suppose Kobe Japanese Steak House is still the “any minute now” champion – it has entered its second decade with a sign on the property where Barney’s Steak & Seafood once stood announcing that it is “coming soon.”

But anyway, Tako Cheena.

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University Shoppes

Mamak, the popular Asian Street Food restaurant in the Mills 50 district, will open a location near UCF in either December or early January. The restaurant will take over a space in the University Shoppes that had been a Pei Wei Asian Diner.

The new Mamak will operate mainly as a quick serve restaurant, with customers ordering at the counter and food delivered to tables when ready, according to someone at the downtown Mamak who described the experience as similar to Domu Chibi in Waterford Lakes.

Mamak, which opened almost five years ago, is often compared to Hawkers in that both offer dishes typically sold on the streets throughout Asia. When Mamak first opened, it became a hit, with locals immediately choosing sides between the two brands.

The locally owned Hawkers, of course, has grown into a multi-state chain. Perhaps this second location is an early sign of bigger things for Mamak.

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Felipe door

Felipe Rodriguez Tequila House, the Tex-Mex restaurant in Thornton Park, closed Sunday after just over five months in operation. In addition, Dexter’s of Thornton Park is expected to be sold to new buyers this week, according to someone with that restaurant.

Both businesses are owned by the same group of investors and both are advertisers on SJO.

A deal is said to have been reached with a buyer for the Felipe space. No details have been released, but it will almost certainly not continue as Felipe Rodriguez, which was named for a fictitious Mexican tequila maker.

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Shari overlook

Shari, the Thornton Park sushi lounge that opened in 2002, is currently closed.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the owner, Chris Mistretta, no longer wishes to operate the sushi bar and is seeking a buyer. The closing is being classified as "temprorary." The source said that the lounge’s sushi chef may be interested in taking it over. Mistretta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to Shari’s Facebook page, it was voted one of the Top 50 Restaurants in the U.S. by OpenTable and has won numerous accolades from local publications over the years. Last year, the restaurant dropped Sushi Lounge from its name. It was remodeled and the menu was changed to feature Asian and Latin fusion dishes alongside the sushi selections.

This story is developing.

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Dexterswp bar

As of today, Dexter’s of Winter Park, the original of the Dexter’s group of wine bars and restaurants, is closed. Beginning Friday, Oct. 18, Dexter’s New Standard will begin serving customers by invitation when it soft opens at the Ravaudage Plaza at Lee Road and Orlando Avenue.

A year ago, the four Dexter’s restaurants were sold to different entities. The Winter Park store, considered the original, though its location has changed over the years, was purchased by Nathan Landwer.

Following the sale, none of the Dexter’s were required to follow any menu or appearance guidelines, as would be expected in conventional franchises or with businesses with similar names and identities. Indeed, each of the three remaining Dexter’s, including Thornton Park and Lake Mary, has something distinct about it. The Winter Park Dexter’s is known for its live music. (The Windermere location closed over the summer and further news about Dexter's of Thornton Park is anticipated Monday.)

Landwer said last month that he was rebranding to further distinguish his restaurant from the others but he wanted to keep Dexter’s in the name as an homage.

Dexter’s New Standard is moving into the space that was originally a TR Fire Grill. Landwer is bringing in two former chefs from K restaurant in College Park: Ryan McLaughlin as executive chef and Jason Wolfe as executive chef de cuisine. Those hires are being seen as an indication that Dexter’s New Standard will have a renewed focus on the menu, although it will continue to be a venue for live bands.

Landwer said in September that the move was prompted because the landlord of the Hannibal Square location indicated Dexter’s lease would not be renewed. The lease is not set to expire until April. At the time, Landwer did not say whether or not he would keep the Hannibal Square restaurant open, but he did say he had no interest in operating two restaurants. The staff members from Dexter’s of Winter Park are expected to move to Dexter’s New Standard.

According to information from Erin Allport, spokeswoman for Dexter’s New Standard, the restaurant will run a Test Kitchen preview while the staff trains. Here are the details: