WOB interior

Why did they have to call it World of Beer?

Yes, I know, that's the name of the franchise, so when it opens a new location, it tends to use that name.

But if ever there was a name that screamed Joe Six-Pack, it's World of Beer. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for an establishment that has taken over what was for decades the jewel of the downtown dining scene, you'd expect something a little more extraordinary.

The location in question is the former Lee's Lakeside, which overlooks Lake Eola and its multicolored fountain and Orlando's downtown skyline beyond. Long one of the city's favorite special occasion restaurants, it closed a couple of years after owner Lethia "Lee" Rose, the restaurant's heart and soul, died in 2003. In 2009, Manny Tato, who had taken over Rose's other restaurant, Lake Eola Yacht Club (now Spice Modern), opened Pesca in the moderately remodeled space. But that restaurant never found a following and closed after a brief period.

Rick BaylessJust yesterday I told you about Art Smith perhaps opening a restaurant at the still-under-construction Disney Springs at Downtown Disney. Now I'm hearing that Rick Bayless, another Chicago area chef, is also in the negotiations phase. Bayless's restaurants include Mexican flavored Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, but according to my sources, he would bring a new brand to Central Florida. The arrangement would be made under a licensing agreement, but, I'm told, Bayless would be hands on with the development and ongoing operations of the restaurant.

Other restaurants that are slated to open include Morimoto Asia and Boathouse.

More details as I learn them.

 

 

The wine business in Orlando has come a long way over the last 30 years and there are several people to thank for it. Since I am so closely connected to the different aspects of the wine business, I know first hand the time and work it takes to get a wine into your glass. I am always disappointed when I read a review of a restaurant - one that I know has put a lot of time and energy into their wine and beverage program – and the wine list isn't even mentioned. I feel that at the greatest restaurants, the wine and beverage program are what make them the full package, the ultimate experience. The first thing people order at a restaurant, after all, is a drink.

For all of you who read Scott's flog regularly, you know he is always fighting for Orlando to be recognized as a culinary destination. Some say the beaches and theme parks hold us back but ultimately I believe that without a wine culture people are actually willing and able to talk about, Orlando will never be viewed as a culinary destination. Wine and food have a long history of marriage, and with wine comes the idea of culture, prosperity and most importantly sharing. To truly understand the wine culture in Orlando, I feel it's important to recognize the people who started it, and those who are fighting for our town to have a stage in the market. This is all pretty common knowledge amongst us that have been in the wine business for a while but for many, I think that it may not be known who is the driving force behind what has and does happen in our wine scene.

Art Smith, a celebrity chef with restaurants in Chicago and Washington, D.C., is in talks to open a restaurant at Walt Disney World, most likely as part of the Disney Springs project currently under construction, according to a source close to the chef.

Smith is a former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and the owner of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago's Near North Side, the "home of Southern hospitality in Chicago," according to the chef's website. Other restaurants include Art and Soul in Washington; LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto (it stands for Love Your Food Everyday); and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta.

Smith is also a native of Jasper, Florida, near the Georgia border, and in 2013 announced that he was in the planning stages to open a cafe with comfort food and a Starbucks. Smith and his husband, the artist Jesus Salgueiro, own a home in Jasper.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World would not comment on the rumor of an Art Smith restaurant at the resort, and attempts to reach someone in Smith's organization were not fruitful.

Earlier it was confirmed that Morimoto Asia and the Boathouse would be part of Disney Springs. Other restaurants that are rumored to be opening but not yet officially announced are STK and Edison.