Morimoto in Name Only?

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Morimoto-Asia-ExteriorRendering of Morimoto Asia from Studio V via WDW News

It seems that the folks at Walt Disney World finally got around to confirming what I first told you about in April and again in June: That some big name restaurants would be part of the current construction project to be called Disney Springs, and that one of those big names would be Morimoto.

In his article for the Orlando Sentinel this week, Theme Park Ranger Dewayne Bevil even included a quote from Masaharu Morimoto, the Iron Chef whose Morimoto restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere have earned praise from sushi lovers and critics alike. However, the restaurant at the redone Downtown Disney will be called Morimoto Asia, not Morimoto like his other restaurants. Is that because this won't be his restaurant?

My sources now tell me that Morimoto is only licensing the use of his name for the restaurant, much in the same way that Todd English allows the use of his for Todd English's bluezoo at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel, also at Walt Disney World Resort. Originally, the restaurant was to be another Morimoto, but, according to people close to the project, the celebrity chef became disillusioned with the process involved in getting the restaurant project going. It shouldn't surprise anyone that working with a behemoth (or behemouse?) like Disney can be a bureaucratic nightmare.

I've been getting a few tidbits about another restaurant group that is in the planning stage to open a celebrity chef helmed restaurant, also at the Springs. Let's hope the process doesn't scare them away. I'll let you know when I have something concrete to pass along.

By the way, although this week's formal announcement also confirmed that the Boathouse, from Schussler Creative, would be part of the project, it did not mention the Edison or STK. But you should be hearing official word about them soon.