The team behind Kadence, the wildly popular omakase restaurant in the Audubon district, have announced they will open a Filipino restaurant in Mills 50 in the former Dandelion Community Cafe building.
In a release Wednesday, the group said that the restaurant, Kaya, represents a return to their roots – they met through the Filipino Student Association at the University of Florida nearly 20 years ago. And they noted that their first food event in Orlando – even before Kappo, the East End Market food stall that was a precursor to Kadence – was a fundraiser for the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan relief project. Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, killed more than 6300 people in the Philippines alone.
The release said, “We’ll be cooking the food closest to our hearts while infusing our experiences, memories and creativity to continue expanding awareness and love of Filipino food.”
The name Kaya means to be able – to say kaya ko is to say I can do it. It’s also a coconut jam popular in the Philippines but more significantly the name of Lordfer Lalicon’s daughter.
Lalicon is one of the principlas of Kadence along with Mark Berdin and Jennifer Banagale. In a phone conversation Wednesday, Lalicon said that Berdin and Banagale will continue to lead Kadence while Lalicon focuses on Kaya along with Jamilyn Bailey, who has led Kadence’s marketing, and Johnny and Jimmy Tung, who started the Bento group of restaurants. Lalicon said that he worked with the Tungs in their first Bento restaurant and helped open the first one in Orlando.
Lalicon said that they’d been looking for a space to open a Filipino restaurant “for two or three years, even before we opened Kadence,” when the Dandelion space became available. (The popular vegan restaurant closed in August after a dispute between the owner and staff.)
The new restaurant will have more seats than Kadence – not hard to do since it is a nine-seat sushi bar. Still, the new space, which was once a home, is bound to make it a cozy spot. Lalicon estimates there will be 40 seats inside but plans call to make good use of outdoor space, too.
Lalicon said that realistically he doesn’t expect Kaya to open before late summer or early fall next year.