The Winter Park Dexter’s is planning to change more than its address when it relocates to Ravaudage Plaza. When it opens in the space formerly occupied by TR Fire Grill, it will be known as Dexter’s New Standard.
And with the new name will come a recommitment to the quality of the food, as evidenced by the hiring of two former K Restaurant chefs: Ryan McLaughlin, as executive chef, and executive chef de cuisine Jason Wolfe.
Once a four-location group started by Dexter Richardson as a wine bar in 1984, the Dexter’s restaurants were sold last year to separate buyers. The Windermere location has since closed.
The remaining three Dexter’s, in Thornton Park and Lake Mary, as well as the original in Winter Park, are not bound to adhere to any set menu or appearance guidelines, as would be expected in conventional franchises.
That, says Nathan Landwer, managing partner of Dexter’s Winter Park, is why he decided to change the name. He’s keeping the Dexter’s as an homage to a longtime brand but adding New Standard to separate it from the others.
Dexter’s Winter Park had already become distinct, focusing more on its cocktail program and presenting live entertainment. Food had stopped being a forte.
Dexter’s New Standard will still offer live entertainment, including national touring acts on a larger stage than the current location, and its popular cocktails. But it will also return to its wine-forward roots, with a wine list curated by Erin Allport, and a rededication to the food side of the business.
McLaughlin, who took over the kitchen at K when Kevin Fonzo sold the restaurant, said that his menu will keep some of the Dexter’s favorites but tweak the presentation. The Eggplant Napoleon, for example, will be sliced and stacked differently, and the Pressed Duck Sandwich, another longtime favorite, might be served open faced (and unpressed).
He also said that he will be sourcing his ingredients from local farms and purveryors. The restaurant will also feature a raw bar with a glass top overlooking the open kitchen.
Dexter’s started in Winter Park but not at the current location in Hannibal Square. The move was prompted, said Landwer, when the landlord indicated he would not renew the lease, which expires in April of 2020.
It is not clear whether the current location will remain open through April, however Landwer indicated that he was not interested in operating two restaurants at this time. Indeed, most of the staff at the current location is expected to move to Dexter’s New Standard when it opens, perhaps by the end of September.
More staff will be needed – the new location will have more seating, including a patio overlooking the Ravaudage fountain. Private dining will also be available and Landwer says that he hopes to utilize the plaza for special events.