James and Julie Petrakis, the husband and wife chef team behind the Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons Provisions, will open a version of Cask & Larder at Orlando International Airport next year. The full-service restaurant will be airside in Terminal 2, which houses the gates for Southwest Airlines and is one of the busiest terminals at the airport.
The Petrakises were approached to be part of bidding process to propose a new restaurant for the airport by Johnny Rivers, a well-known and respected former executive chef at Walt Disney World who now operates INGLUR, an international food manufacturing conglomerate in South Orlando. Rivers — often confused with John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse — currently operates Johnny Rivers’ Grill & Market in the same terminal. Peter Amaro, Jr., president and coo of Master ConcessionAir (MCA) in Miami, is also part of the partnership. MCA operates restaurant and retail concepts in Florida airports, including two retail shops at Orlando International.
Although the partnership, known as MCA-MCO, was first told that its proposal had been selected by the airport in July, an official announcement was delayed when the decision was contested by other bidders, including Orlando’s Robert Earl, who wanted to install one of his Earl of Sandwich restaurants.
MCA-MCO successfully argued that the Cask & Larder farm-to-table concept was a better fit for the airport. “When someone visits Orlando for the first time, or this is the place they call home,” said Rivers, “what better cuisine to serve than one that uses ingredients that are indigenous to this region?” The airport commission may have recognized that there is a current trend among airports, both in the U.S. and abroad, to offer versions of popular local and celebrity-owned restaurants for travelers.
The Petrakises have been nominated multiple times for a Best Chef South award from the James Beard Foundation.
The airport version of Cask & Larder will not be a complete duplicate of the popular Winter Park eatery, which opened in 2012 and was recognized by Esquire magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants in American in 2014. “There will be a few differences,” James said, citing the challenges of designing a kitchen that can operate at the airport. “We’ll keep it more mainstream,” he said, “but keep to our beliefs of sourcing locally. That element won’t change.” The restaurant will take over the spaces currently occupied by Kalik Cafe and Au Bon Pain as well as an area just off the shuttle from the main terminal that is used as a runway observatory. That space, said Petrakis, will become Cask & Larder’s bar. He said that it will feature cask versions of C&L’s craft cocktails as well as the beer they brew on the premises of the Winter Park restaurant. (Don’t count on getting a growler filled to take on board your flight, however.)
After leaving Disney, Rivers consulted with Darden Restaurants on the development of Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones, among other projects. Healso owned and operated Shanks, a barbecue restaurant on West Colonial Drive in Orlando. His honors include the Cornell Culinary Hospitality Art Award, the American Culinary Federation’s Regional and National Chef Professionalism Award, the American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year Award, the Gourmet Services Chefs Hall of Fame Award, and the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque. He was also recognized as 2004 Businessman of the Year by President George W. Bush.
The MCO Cask & Larder is slated to open late summer or early fall next year.