O'boys Leaves Former Harper's Tavern Location; Will Become Big Star Restaurant and Osceola Room Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

O’boys Real Smoked BBQ has vacated the former Harper’s Tavern on Fairbanks Avenue. Craig Tremblay, whose most recent project was the nearby Winter Park Fish Company, has taken possession and will turn the space into a combination restaurant with a separate bar.

That should sound familiar to locals who remember when the building was home to Le Cordon Bleu restaurant and Harper’s Tavern. The Tavern was one of the oldest bars in Central Florida. Both businesses closed following a fire that nearly destroyed the building.

Tremblay says the restaurant will be called Big Star. There’s no significance to the name, or at least “I haven’t thought of it yet,” says Tremblay. The bar is tentatively named the Osceola Room. The restaurant’s menu will have a southern accent but also feature gourmet burgers and, because the barbecue’s smokers are already there, pork shoulder and other smoked meats. There will be some fish, but that won’t be a focus, says Tremblay. He will feature an oyster bar.

The restaurant will have 4000 square feet; the bar will be 2000 square feet and have a separate entrance. It will serve full liquor. Tremblay hopes to have the restaurant side open in about six weeks with the bar taking a couple of months to be operational.

Tremblay says he is still a partner at Winter Park Fish Company but is no longer involved in day to day operations.

New Restaurant and Bar in the Blend for 55 West

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Clarification: The partners opening the restaurant Blend are no longer associated with the owner of Pranna and Lotus Lounge.

The owners of restaurants in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., have signed a 10-year lease for 6000 square feet of retail space at 55 West Marketplace on Church Street. According to a release by Grubb & Ellis, the commercial real estate firm that negotiated the contract for Netherlands-based landlord FFWO LLC (who knows what it stand for?), the new restaurant and bar will be called Blend and will feature touch technology tables. In addition, guests will be able to both order and pay for their food and drinks using their iPhones, so all you out of work servers shouldn’t start lining up for applications.

The new owners operate Pranna, a Southeast Asian Fusion restaurant in New York, and Lotus Lounge in D.C.


Blend will hold 330 people and offer a menu with a “mix of cuisines.” That’s all I know for now. I’m not certain, but the touch table technology may be similar to this London restaurant that projects images on the table.

More as I find out.

Bravissimo Italian Cafe Closing; Owners of Graffiti Junktion Will Offer New Concept

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bravissimo, the charming but ultimately flawed Italian cafe on Shine Avenue, will close after evening service Saturday, May 29, according to one of the new owners. The building will be taken over by the partnership that owns and operates Graffiti Junktion in nearby Thornton Park. (A call to Bravissimo for verification was not answered.) Neighbors needn’t worry that the new owners are going to put in a second location for Graffiti Junktion -- that’s going to be in Winter Park.

One of the partners, “Tattood” Bill Roberts, says the new restaurant will likely be called Shine and will focus on offering a romantic dining experience. The building, which started its life decades ago as a neighborhood market, is small but offers an intimate dining experience.

There’s never been much of a kitchen there, which has hamstrung a number of previous tenants. “That’s why we have to be very, very, very smart with our menu,” says Roberts. he says the menu will have a European influence and will highlight, whenever possible, locally sourced ingredients. He says the restaurant’s theme will be, “One perfect sunset shared once upon a time with one perfect person,” although I’m sure repeat customers will be welcomed.

Look for the new restaurant to open in July or August.

As for a second location for the popular Graffiti Junktion, which I recently reviewed, the partnership, which also includes Greg Peters and Tom Hughes, are looking at a couple of Winter Park locations. Nothing has been signed as yet, but the former Ole Ole on the corner of New York and Fairbanks Avenues has caught their attention. I’ll let you know more when the deal is sealed.

Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival Will Welcome Belgium and South Korea

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Belgium and South Korea will be represented in the marketplace kiosks at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and there will be new menu offerings from returning countries, such as Singapore, Argentina, Chile, Poland, South Africa, Australia, Spain and the U.S.A.

The fest, which will run from October 1 through November 14, marks the 15th year for the event. Over the six weeks, guests can sample food and wines from across the world, attend cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, bottle signings and author events. Among the celebrity chefs scheduled to attend this year are Warren Brown, Cat Cora, Todd English, Gale Gand, Robert Irvine, Art Smith and Andrew Zimmern.

Something new this year: a festival preview night on September 30 called First Bites, to be held in the Festival Welcome Center, with sips and samples from an array of kiosks and vendors.

Also new, Disney’s Dessert Discovery (3D) that will put a pastry-otic twist on the Party for the Senses experience. Like the Parties, 3D tastings will be held in the World Showplace.

So far there are not a lot of specific dates for some of the events, and no word on pricing. Also, a date for ticket sales has not yet been announced.

More details soon.