Charley's Steak House Planned for Meaty Winter Park Location

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Charleys rendering

Talk of the Town Restaurants is planning to open another location of its flagship brand, Charley’s Steak House. And this one won’t be in the tourist sector.

TOTT’s senior operating partner, Seth Miller, told me that the new steakhouse will be in Winter Park at the corner of Lee Road and Orlando Avenue. If you’re trying to picture what’s already at that intersection, let me help you out: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. You know, the one just a couple of blocks from Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And two miles from Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster. The exact location of where the foundation will be laid has not been determined, so you may also read that to mean that it won’t be opening anytime soon. But suffice to say that when it does, that corner of Winter Park will become one of the most well meated areas of town. (A rendering of what the building will look like is above, courtesy of Talk of the Town Restaurants.)

Talk of the Town has three existing Charley’s: one the group refers to as being in Celebration, even though it’s in Kissimmee; one on International Drive; and another in Tampa. It closed its original Charley’s on Orange Blossom Trail a few years ago and replaced it with a new brand, Charley’s Wildfire Grille, just three years ago. It closed two years ago. There was talk from Talk that it would reopen the Wildfire Grille on property it has in the Lake Buena Vista area, but that has not occurred.

Of course there’s also the little issue of a lawsuit filed by Chicago’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises against Talk of the Town Restaurants and Ron Woodsby regarding the use of the word Wildfire.

Lettuce said it owned the sole rights to use the word in association with a restaurant; the judge in the case, filed with United States District Court Middle District of Florida Orlando Division, agreed (the decision came down a year ago this month but was little discussed locally). So I’m going to go out on a limb and say we won’t see Charley’s Wildfire Grille opening again. Unless Lettuce Entertain You opens it, in which case TOTT could sue for using the name Charley’s. That would be fun.

(The owner's of Wildside BBQ in Thornton Park could have warned Woodsby there'd be trouble -- the original name there was Wildfire BBQ.)

Also, in August, Talk of the Town Restaurants will unveil changes at its Moonfish restaurant on Sand Lake Road. According to Miller, MoonFish, which opened in late 2002, was due for a redo. Walls will be removed; flooring will change. But the menu will also be reworked to feature more steaks. Let’s face it, these people know how to cook meat, and they do it well at all of their brands, including Vito’s Chop House, Johnnie’s Hideaway and FishBones. Which reminds me, there was a bit of a tussle between the company and the owners of Bonefish Grill when that chain came to town. I guess they worked that one out.

Anyway, it’s been years since I’ve been to MoonFish (almost 13, I’m guessing), so I’m looking forward to having a reason to go back.

And as long as we’re on the subject of steaks, the anticipated opening of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House on International Drive is nearly here. Also August, perhaps. The restaurant has already begun hiring for all positions. Well, all except genereal manager and executive chef. Those positions have been filled by Dominick Delledera and Greg Thompson, respectively.

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