Feeding Darden -- New Corporate Headquarters's Employee Dining Room Not What You'd Expect

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Let’s say you’re the largest full-service dining restaurant company in the world, a Fortune 500 operation. And you move your headquarters, let’s call it the Restaurant Support Center, into a massive, state-of-the-arts building that allows you to house all 1,300 support center employees under one roof, instead of the 12 roofs you’ve operated under in the past.

And this new building allows you for the first time to offer an employee cafeteria -- after all, with over 1,700 restaurants throughout North America, you’re in the business of feeding people. So, which of your six brands do you choose for the in-house restaurant? Do you go with Red Lobster, the concept that started the company, or with The Olive Garden and its popular Italian comfort foods? Or maybe you use the two steakhouse brands -- Longhorn for the masses and Capital Grille for the executive dining room. Bahama Breeze could offer a playful atmosphere, a calypso break from the workday. And Seasons 52 would encourage your employees to eat more healthfully. Or you could offer a food court with all the concepts and let the workers decide.

The answer for the employee restaurant at Darden’s brand-spanking-new Restaurant Support Center? Guckenheimer.


Be My Valentine, Tiger; Or Happy Chinese New Year

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Ming Court on International Drive
In relative terms, Central Florida has a dearth of good Chinese restaurants, but there are some gems among the few. One of my favorites -- and the one I think is most authentic -- is Ming’s Bistro. They do traditional dim sum cart service, and it isn’t unusual to find ducks hanging about. (Cooked ones, not live ducks.) I suspect but have never verified that there is are two menus, one for Chinese customers and one for Westerners. If you can, convince your server that you really want to try something traditional. If she mentions anything involving General Tso, just get up and leave, but I doubt that will happen.

I’m also a fan of Eastern Pearl, although the food here tends to blend the traditional with the creative. The surroundings are a bit more upscale than you’ll find at most area restaurants, so it makes a good choice if you want to combine the day’s two celebrations.

Highland Manor is Currently Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Highland Manor, the creative Southern restaurant that reinvigorated the local upscale dining scene last year, has changed hands and the dining room is currently closed. Reached in New York where he is opening another restaurant, former chef and co-owner of the Apopka restaurant said that he and another partner had sold their interests to a third partner, Richard Wilhelm. Wilhelm was not immediately available for comment.

A woman who answered the phone at Highland Manor said the dining room would reopen to the public Valentine's Weekend and would thereafter be open Thursdays through Sundays. The restaurant has been holding private catering events on the property while closed to the public.

Mooney said, "We were going in the right direction, and the city dealt with us really well. But the numbers just weren't there. We couldn't see it turning around in the next 24 months."

Mooney is planning to open a restaurant called Bell, Book and Candle at Greenwich Avenue and W. 10th Street in New York in early April.

James Kent Will Represent U.S.A. at Bocuse d'Or

Written by Scott Joseph on .

New York, NY (February 6, 2010) -- The Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring bocuseculinary excellence, announced this evening that Chef James Kent will represent the United States at the prestigious Bocuse d'Or International Culinary Competition, to be held in Lyon, France on January 25-26, 2011. His commis (assistant) in the competition will be Tom Allan. Established in 1987 by Chef Paul Bocuse, the Bocuse d'Or is the preeminent international culinary competition in which teams of one chef and one commis from 24 countries compete for top honors and international acclaim.  Currently, Chef Kent serves as Sous Chef at Eleven Madison Park in New York City and his commis is a Sous Chef at Eleven Madison Park as well.