Restaurant Romance: Owning and Operating a Restaurant with a Spouse

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Petrakis portraitJames and Julie Petrakis

Drop into just about any restaurant on Valentine’s Day and you’ll find it filled with couples.

But in several Central Florida restaurants, you can find a couple any day of the year: They’re the married people who own and operate some of the area’s most popular restaurants.

What’s it like working every day with a spouse in such a demanding and fast-paced business? We asked some of them what they do to make it work. Here’s romantic advice from James and Julie Petrakis (Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder); Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros (Taverna Opa, Tapa Toro); Joey Conicella and Alex Marin (Hungry Pants); Hari and Jenneffer Pulapaka (Cress); and Trina Gregory-Propst and Va Propst (Se7en Bites, Sette).

Downtown Food & Wine Fest is Feb. 22 & 23

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Downtown foodwine screen

There’s just one week to go until the 12th annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest, which is a festival dedicated to food and wine that takes place downtown.

What else do you need to know?

OK, how about that it is at Lake Eola, on Robinson Street, on Sat., Feb. 22, from noon to 9 p.m. and Sun., Feb 23., from noon to 7 p.m. Besides food and wine, the festival features lots of live entertainment on a big stage.

Tickets are $15 each day or $25 for both – food and wine purchases are separate; more about that in a moment. There are also some VIP package tickets that you can learn about at the website.

And while we’re on the subject of tickets, I’ve got some to give away.

Valentine's Day Dining

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Chefs table vday photo

Romance is as romance does, but when it comes to Valentine's Day, a romantic dinner is almost de rigueur. You'll find hundreds of options around town, but here arewhat some of our favorite restaurants are offering on Feb. 14.

Chef's Table at the Edgewater

Chefs table vday menu 


 Raglan Road

Raglan Black Forest Bombe copy

Valentine’s Day 2020 at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant!

The Irish know how to romance a sweet tooth, and Raglan Road offers a special dessert pairing for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 only. It’ll be love at first bite when you taste our retro Black Forest Bombe—a delectable concoction of cherry chocolate mousse, kirsch crème brulee, and dark chocolate cake with tart cherry sorbet. Pair it with our special Valentine’s Day-only Bailey’s Red Velvet Iced Shake, and share if you dare.
Call 407/938-0300 to book your table. Regular menu and late-night pub grub offerings available. Live Irish bands and dancers on stage from 4:30 pm through closing.

And a bit of fascinating St. Valentine’s Day lore from the Irish:

St. Valentine, the patron saint of love, was executed in Rome and buried there in the 3rd century. Much later, an Irish priest was granted permission to exhume his remains, and now his skeleton lies under Whitefriar Church in Dublin. In 1835 an Irish Carmelite priest, Fr. John Spratt, used his Irish charm to convince then Pope Gregory XVI to dig up St. Valentine’s remains and take them home as a gift to his fellow Irishmen and women. Now, love-seeking Irish turn up at his site every St. Valentine’s looking for help in finding that special one.

Hook & Reel

Hook and Reel Valentines

Stefano's Trattoria

1. Pollo amore $18: chicken breast rolled and stuffed with fresh cherry preserve, fontal cheese, and smoked ham; breaded and baked. Served in a sherry wine tomato sauce with fresh mushrooms, and a side of penne marinara.
2. Agnello cuore $20: pan seared rack of lamb topped with goat cheese and pistachio and baked. Served over linguine in a aglio oilo sauce.
3. Lobster ravioli $20: lobster raviolis sauteed in a champagne cream sauce with jumbo shrimp.
4. Seafood pomodori pelati $25: a combination of shrimp, scallops, basa fish, and mussels sauteed in a sherry yellow tomato sauce with asparagus. Served over linguine.

Delaney's Tavern

Delaneys vday menu

 Patina Restaurant Group, Disney Springs

 Patina vday lede

Patina vday edisonPatina vday mori

Patina vday hideawayPatina vday maria


Venetian Chop House

VCH ValentinePrixFixe 




American Social

 $8 – Cocktails (Flower Patch + Cupids Crush) w/ food purchase
$50 – Moet & Chandon Brut Bottles + premium wines ( Orin Swift & Prison brands)


 Taverna Opa

SurfNTurf Opa copy

Forget Romance. Let’s Dance All Night! On February 14, Taverna Opa is inviting couples to skip the candle-lit dinner and dance the night away! The restaurant’s 3-course Valentine’s Day menu, priced at $85 per couple, will feature mouthwatering favorites from the land and sea. Guests will enjoy house-made hummus and flaming (literally!) saganaki as the appetizer, feast on a 22 oz. porterhouse and 7 oz. lobster tail, and indulge in sweet loukoumades. Taverna Opa’s nightly dancing and entertainment will begin at 7 p.m.

Tapa Toro

TapaDinner copy

Tapa Toro's succulent 3-course Valentine's Day menu, priced at $85 per couple, will feature an appetizing first course of Pan Con Tomate with Iberian Ham and a shrimp cocktail 🍤; mouthwatering Surf & Turf entree of two 5oz. filet mignons and one 7 oz. lobster tail paired with grilled asparagus and patatas bravas, and to top it all off, a chocolate lava cake with salted caramel ice cream. Tapa Toro’s nightly dancing and entertainment will begin at 7 p.m.

Bullet Point Buffet: The Anniversary Edition

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Ramirez 10The Ritz Carlton Hendricks Gin Event

Reminder of two events this evening: The 10th anniversary party for David Ramirez Chocolates and the Topsy-Turvy Tipples & Tea at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes. I plan on doing both (they’re just two miles apart). Click on those links for details. And for the Tipples & Tea, which features Hendrick’s Gin as the tipple, mention that I told you about it to get 20 percent off the ticket price. The David Ramirez party is free.

Also having a 10th anniversary: Taste of Windermere. It’s Sat., Feb 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Grove. Such favorites as Highball & Harvest and American Social Bar & Kitchen will participate, though neither is in Windermere. In fact, looking over the list of restaurant, I can identify only one, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, from the town. Maybe is should be renamed Taste of Nearby Windermere. Visit Taste of Windermere on Facebook for ticket info.

Also in anniversary news, Orlando authors Simon and Susan Veness are celebrating the 25th year of their hugely successful — and very useful – A Brit Guide to Orlando (Foulsham). The 2020 edition is nearly double the size of the first one and offers advice and guidance to help our British visitors understand Florida and its customs. I may have to pick up a copy for myself.