Bullet Point Buffet: Openings, Closings, Magical Dining Headstart

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Big Fin dining room

  • Pre-preview: Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month has historically been during the month of September. For years now it has started earlier with a preview week. Big Fin Seafood Kitchen is taking it further and has started offering its MagDinMo menu now. You can see the menu at the Restaurant Row seafooder's website.
  • Orlando is getting another seafood restaurant. Slapfish, a fast-casual California franchise, will open its first Florida location soon. If you hear a slapping sound coming from the Waterford Lakes area, you can assume it has opened.
  • Rustic Table has closed. This was the restaurant that changed its name from Park Social earlier in the year. That really was about all it changed and it wasn't enough. There is talk online that it may move somewhere with better rent rates.

4R Restaurant Group Adds Chief Marketing Officer Ahead of Growth

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Jay Zavada4R Restaurant Group, parent company of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, has made recent changes to its headquarters operations, outsourcing payroll, benefits and human resources divisions to third party vendors and creating a chief marketing officer position.

Joining the Winter Park based company as CMO is Jay Zavada, left, a former vice president of global relationship marketing for Walt Disney Parks.

“It’s a change we’ve been looking at for some time,” said company founder and CEO John Rivers. “But we didn’t want to do it until we had something lined up” for the workers whose jobs would be eliminated. Rivers, speaking by phone Monday morning, said that positions have been arranged for two the three workers let go and he believes he has something lined up for the third.

“We’ve made a big investment in marketing,” said Rivers, “which is not something we’ve done historically.” He said that as the company approaches its ninth year and opens more restaurants outside the Central Florida market where it is well known, “We need to have more than a grassroots marketing plan.” Rivers said that when he opened a 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Georgia, “We learned that not everyone in Atlanta knows who we are.”

Shakers American Cafe Celebrates 25 Years of Great Food

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Shakers interior

Just what was it about 1993?

We've been noting restaurant milestones all year, and while we did have one golden anniversary -- Beefy King -- the majority have been silver.

Add to that list Shakers American Cafe on Edgewater Drive in College Park. It was in August of 1993 that the breakfast and lunch spot first opened. (The 23d is the official date.) The original owner named the restaurant for the collection of salt and pepper shakers that not only sit on each table but occupy space on shelves and in every nook and cranny. According to the current owners, Greg and Terry Granda, guests were offered a free piece of pie for every set they donated. The pie is pretty darned good so the collection has grown over the years.

The Grandas are the fourth owners, purchasing the business in 2014. They were College Park residents and fans of Shakers, so when the opportunity came to take it over, they jumped at it. Greg Granda had studied at the Culinary Institute of American and cooked in several New York City restaurants, so they were familiar with the business. They've kept up the quality, keeping many of the original favorites, including the Grilled Blueberry Muffin, and have grown the patronage -- and the collection of shakers.

Here's an edited version of a Facebook Live broadcast I did with the Grandas from the restaurant recently.

4 Rivers, 4 Wheels, 1 Springs

Written by Scott Joseph on .

4r food truck

John Rivers, owner of the 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain, announced Monday that 4R Restaurant Group will open a new concept at Disney Springs.

The 4R Barbacoa Food Truck will feature the brisket and pulled pork that locals have come to know at the popular smokehouse but will be prepared in a barbacoa style, a method popular in the Caribbean and Mexico.

It will have one other major difference from the company’s other barbecue restaurants: it will be open on Sundays. Proceeds from Sunday sales will go to the 4R Foundation charity. All of the group’s other restaurants will maintain the closed-on-Sundays policy.

The food truck will be permanently parked in the Marketplace at Disney Springs. Some signature dishes will include a Taco Cone and Burrito Bowl filled with a choice of meats, such as Brisket Barbacoa or Pork Sofrito.

The food truck is slated to open in late August.