- Sad news out of downtown Orlando this weekend: Elize, the very good Dutch-accented restaurant that took over the Rusty Spoon space just over a year ago, has closed due to the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus. Elize was owned by Michelle Lagerweij, who has a similarly named restaurant in her hometown of Utrecht in the central Netherlands. She brought in Leon Mazairac, once recognized by Gault et Millau as the Netherlands’ most talented chef, to head the Orlando kitchen. The food was excellent, and the menu unique in Central Florida. Elize had recently reopened under the Phase 2 guidelines “to an immensely positive response,” according to a not on its Facebook page, but “the large economic impact resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for us to sustain operations.”
Another Church Street restaurant a few doors away, Ceviche, closed permanently in June.
- Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theatre, the International Drive venue where for 30 years it’s been more about the theater than the dinner, has also closed, but only temporarily. Perhaps the creative team will have time to work on a Covid-19 themed whodunit for the reopening.
- Raglan Road has cancelled its annual Great Irish Hooley, the rollicking party it holds every Labor Day. If you can think back to March you’ll remember that this fresh hell began to break loose just as the Disney Springs restaurant and pub was gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day. To be clear, Ragland Road is open, just not throwing parties right now.
- It doesn’t all have to be sad news. Taste of Chengdu, the Szechuan restaurant that has had diners breathing fire on Orlando’s west side for a couple of years now, plans to open its second location, in Baldwin Park, this weekend. It is taking over the former Chi Pan Asian space.
Colleen Green, a bartender at District Dive in the Milk District and Embers in downtown Orlando, posted a photo of a letter and gift cards that she and other furloughed bar workers received from local businesses. Green gave me permission to share the photo with you. The cards, good for sandwiches, tacos and beverages, were offered as encouragement for industry workers who are not yet allowed to go back to work. Just in case you’re looking for some restaurants to support, consider ordering from Se7en Bites, MX Taco, Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria, the Hammered Lamb, Beefy King, Island Time, Cavo’s and Dixie Dharma and telling them what a nice thing they did.