It has taken a while to come together, but it’s now official: Circo is coming to Orlando.
As I first told you in December of 2014, talks have been underway with the restaurant group that owns and operates the legendary Le Cirque Restaurant Brands in New York, including Le Cirque, Circo and Sirio Ristorante.
The first restaurant to open locally will be Circo Orlando and will be located near the recently opened Mango’s Tropical Cafe on International Drive. According to a release, the restaurant is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2017.
The restaurant will be part of a planned multistory development and will occupy a top-floor space — the highest restaurant location on the drive — according to the release. Circo (CHEER-koh) will feature a Tuscan menu with dishes from other Circo locations in New York and Abu Dhabi, with some menu items unique to Orlando.
The space is being designed by The Gravity Company, which has offices in Orlando and Dalllas. Gravity most recently was involved in the design of Soco restaurant in Thornton Park.
Sunshine Ventures is owned by Andrew Gross and had previously held the development agreement for Buffalo Wild Wings in Central Florida. Those assets were purchased by the winger’s corporate office in 2014.
Le Cirque has long been recognized as one of New York City’s iconic restaurants, mostly because of the charismatic Maccioni. The restaurant has moved its location a number of times over the decades. I first dined at it in the early ‘90s when it was in the Helmsley Palace and then called Le Cirque 2000 to reflect the coming millennium. It was there that then New York Times critic Ruth Reichl stunned the culinary world by removing one of its top-rating stars, mainly because of the way she and a companion were treated as anonymously dining women. She returned to the restaurant again without wearing one of her famous disguises, knowing she would be recognized by Maccioni. The review remains one of Reichl’s most famous.
Le Cirque is now located at the Bloomberg Building in Manhattan. I dined there in February, 2015, and found it to be a rather modest dinner, though just as expensive as ever. More recently, in February of this year, I dined at one of the ocean-going Le Cirques that have popped up as a licensing arrangement with Holland America Lines. That dinner was even more modest than the one in New York, a problem when a legend starts licensing its name without, apparently, taking measures to verify quality.
While Le Cirque (Seerkh) is French, Circo is is Italian. It was first opened, Maccioni told me at the time, as an opportunity for his sons to get more involved in the restaurant business.
Circo Orlando will have more than 10,000 square feet and is expected to cost $3.5 million to construct.