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Jacks bbq

Jack’s Barbeque in Minneola has permanently closed after 68 years. The popular restaurant, also known as Jack Benny’s, closed Aug. 28. It had announced it would close on Saturday, Aug. 29, but it ran out of food a day early.

A note on the barbecue joint’s website reads: “It has been our greatest pleasure to serve you-- family, friends, and the community at large-- over the past 22 years. We know that in its more than 70 years of operation, Jack’s has touched the lives of countless people in South Lake County and beyond, and we will hold all the good memories close for the rest of our days. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support that you have given us.”

(Although it notes 70 years, the restaurant first opened in 1952.)

The original owner of the restaurant was named Jack. He sold it to his niece whose husband’s name was Benny. So it became known as Jack Benny’s, sort of the same way Chris Steak House became Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

I reviewed Jack’s in my Chow Hound column in the Orlando Sentinel in November 1999.

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Osphere ext

The space on Lake Eola now occupied by the curiously named Osphere – previously the home of Spice Modern and, more famously, Lake Eola Yacht Club – has one of the best patios in town, an even more covetous feature in these days of outdoor-preferred dining.

And even the interior seems suited to distancing. At least from what I remember – I visited the restaurant in early March.

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Brass Tap

  • Some beer news to note: The Brass Tap in Mills 50 ceased to be a Brass Tap Sunday after more than five years there. A note on its Facebook page says that the owners will rebrand and reopen with the same staff. No word on what it will be, but I’m guessing it will have something to do with beer on tap. A location in Waterford Lakes continues to be Brass Tappy.
  • There’s no guessing about Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company at Lake Eola. The DeLand-based brewers opened their new location, on the corner of N. Eola Drive and Robinson Street, in the former Panera Bread space in the EO Inn Monday. Many beers on tap, some exclusive to this location. Food will be available, too.
  • As long as we’re discussing alcohol...Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a meeting with restaurateurs in Ft. Myers Thursday that he would support making “alcohol to go” permanent after the pandemic crisis. The provision instituted under DeSantis’s pandemic emergency order allows bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises imbibing. It’s not up to him – the Florida legislature would have to, um, legislate that.
  • And in nondrinking news, Luby’s, the parent company of the spooneristically named Fuddruckers, caused a panic among its burger fans when it announced the company would disband. That caused Luby’s chief operating officer to issue a statement saying that 80 Luby’s and Fuddruckers remain open and may continue to be operated by franchisees. Fast food history buffs, if they exist, may note that Beefy King was once a franchise. When it dissolved the Orlando franchisees kept the Bumby Avenue roast beef sandwicherie open. And the rest is history.

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roys ext

Roy’s Restaurant, the Hawaiianesque fine dining venue on Sand Lake Road, has closed permanently.

The restaurant closed in March when all on-premises dining was forbidden and did not offer takeout and delivery as many others did. It had recently reopened for in-house dining and people were reported being seen there as recently as Monday.

Efforts to reach the corporate offices were not immediately successful. A manager at a neighboring restaurant said that he was unaware that the restaurant had permanently closed but had heard that it was struggling.

Roy’s was started in 1988 in Hawaii by James Beard Award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi. The Orlando Roy’s opened in 2006 with Greg Richie, who trained with Yamaguchi in Hawaii, as the chef/partner. Richie is now the chef/partner of Soco in downtown’s Thornton Park.

Roy’s, in its heydays, was one of venues that elevated Restaurant Row to a dining destination for locals as well as for tourists and conventioneers. It had undergone some ownership changes that some say contributed to a decline in the quality of the experience. 

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Russels exterior

  • Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe is set to open its doors on Friday, Sept. 19. The new restaurant is owned by Philippe Villain and Kevin O’Donnell, who also own Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. They’ve brought on Emmanuel Clement as chef/partner. Clement worked with Villain at various Meridien properties, including the Parker Meridien in New York; at European Planet Hollywoods (Planets Hollywood?); and in the opening of Euro Disney. The menu is described by Villain as continental and will draw on Clement’s restaurant experiences of his native France and Spain, where he also owned restaurants. Steak tartare will be a signature dish, Clement told me.