Luma on Park, one of the area’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, has announced that it will be closing after 15 years at the corner of Park and New England Avenues in Winter Park. A posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page said that Park Lights Hospitality, which owns the Luma brand, was “unable to come to terms on a reasonable rent structure to continue operating in our current location.”
“It’s a sad time for all of us,” said Tim Noelke, the longtime manager and a principal of Park Lights. Noelke, reached by phone Wednesday morning, said the group had “been negotiating for some time now” with the building’s landlord, Battaglia Group. Noelke said that negotiations began before the pandemic-forced shutdown.
Calls to the Battaglia Group for comment were not immediately returned.
A closing date has not been determined, said Noelke, but he expected it to be “sometime this month.” In the meantime, the restaurant will continue its regular service, including its participation in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program. “We’re still going to take good care of our guests,” said Noelke.
Noelke also did not rule out a last-minute resolution to the situation. “I would love for them to come back to the table,” he said of Battaglia. Barring that, he said it was possible that the restaurant could reopen in a different location, musing that it might be called Luma Off Park.
When it opened in 2005, Luma on Park was not an immediate success, at least not with one critic. My original assessment noted that the restaurant had “a fabulous space and food that wants to live up to it, but doesn’t quite.”
Not long after, Todd Immel, the opening chef, returned to Atlanta, and in April of 2006, the restaurant’s owners, which included Brian France, who was then CEO of Nascar, replaced Immel with a young chef who had been brought in as a consultant. That chef, Brandon McGlamery, has been at the helm ever since and has overseen the openings of sister restaurants Prato, also on Park Avenue, and Luke’s Kitchen in Maitland.
My followup review of Luma, in June 2006, said: “McGlamery's menu is more straightforward. The presentations are appealing, but there is quality and a balance of flavors in the taste that make the food as lovely to eat as it is to look at.”
Park Lights Hospitality’s principals include France, McGlamery and Noelke along with Austin Tate, senior managing director at Glade Capital Partners investment firm.