Get Ready for a Restaurant Week That Could Happen Only in Orlando

Written by Scott Joseph on .



You can find “Restaurant Week” events all over the country at just about any time of the year. They’re pretty much the same -- restaurants offer a prix fixe menu that represents a better deal if you purchase the multi-course specially priced meal than if you ordered the same items a la carte.

But during the last week of January there will be a restaurant week event that could take place only in Orlando.

From January 25 through the 31st area restaurants will participate in the first Eat Local Week. The twist here is that special menus will highlight the various ingredients, from meats and seafoods to cheeses, breads, herbs and other produce, that are grown and supplied by local concerns.

The event is sponsored by the Slow Food Orlando convivium, and the nonprofit group lacks the resources to give it the proper fanfare you might see for other Restaurant Week kinds of events. But this is a huge moment for the Central Florida restaurant community.

Hotelier Harris Rosen Spearheads Haiti Relief Effort

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Orlando hotelier Harris Rosen, working with Florida Senator Bill Nelson and members of Orlando's Haitian community, has initiated a drive to raise $1 million to aid the people of earthquake-devated Haiti. Rosen has started the campaign with a personal donation of $250,000.

For the Rosen hotels -- and many others of the Central Florida tourism industry -- the crisis has hit close to home, literally. According to Rosen spokeswoman Mary Deatrick, approximately 30 percent of the 4,500 workers in the Rosen chain of hotels are from Haiti or of Haitian descent. It should be no surprise that a good number of the people who clean the rooms, make the beds and work in restaurant kitchens are Haitian. They're co-workers and neighbors, and they need assistance.

According to a press release from Deatrick: "Rosen and his internal team met with Senator Bill Nelson and several leaders from Orlando’s Haitian community to determine the immediate needs of those affected by this week’s earthquake. Along with cash needed to buy supplies, the group is collecting first aid kits, medical supplies (bandages, gauze, peroxide, etc.), blankets, towels, washcloths, hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), antibiotics and bug spray. No clothes, shoes or food will be accepted at this time. Rosen is also working with pharmaceutical vendors via his onsite Rosen Medical Center to secure donations of medical supplies."

One hundred percent of donations received through the Harris Rosen Foundation will go to relief efforts, said Deatrick.

Supplies may be dropped off at Rosen Centre hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819 or at First Haitian Baptist Church of Orlando, 4701 Lenox Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32811 or at the Child development Center of Orlando, 11553 Winter Garden Vineland Rd., Orlando, FL 32836. Monetary donations may be mailed to the Harris Rosen Foundation, memo: Haiti Relief, 9840 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. The Harris Rosen Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (FEIN #59-2890420). For more information, call 407-996-6715 or visit Rosen's Web site.


Thanksgiving dinner listings are online

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Looking for a restaurant where you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner? Check out the Holiday Dining 2009 section of the flog. There you'll find a list of restaurants that have indicated they will be open Nov. 26. You'll also find links to their menus.

And if you're a restaurateur who would like to have your restaurant included in the list, send the following information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  • Exact physical address of the restaurant (please give more than the name of the hotel or the cross streets, although that information can be very helpful, too).
  • Hours of operation for Thanksgiving Day.
  • Type of service, whether it's a holiday buffet or a la carte menu.
  • Cost for adults and children (please include age range for children); if not a prix fixe, give a price range for entrees.
  • Phone number to call for reservations; please indicate if reservations are available through OpenTable.
  • You're welcome to attach a menu.

Check back often as the list grows. And as Thanksgiving gives way to December, I'll also be listing restaurants that will be open on Christmas Day, and some of the happenings on New Year's Eve, too.

Make reservations using OpenTable online service

Written by Scott Joseph on .

I first wrote about, an online restaurant booking site, three years ago in the Orlando Sentinel. OpenTable had been around for a few years but was still just catching on locally. Here’s a link to that Sentinel article.

A few things have changed since I first wrote about OpenTable. I mean besides that I’m no longer at Sentinel. In the article you’ll see quotes from Edward Nickell, who was at Dux at the time. He’s no longer there -- in fact, neither is Dux -- but is the proud co-owner of two Funky Monkeys.opentable logo

But Bill and Adrienne Katz are still around and are readers of the flog. (Hi, Bill and Adrienne!) They were the ones who first alerted me to the joys of OpenTable, which spurred me to write the article.

OpenTable has grown in this area -- new restaurants sign up almost weekly -- and restaurant owners tell me they just love it. So do diners.

So, beginning today, I’m offering direct links to restaurants that participate in the OpenTable program. You’ll find the links in regular reviews and in the restaurant listings here on the flog. There is, of course, no charge to you to use the OpenTable service. And in fact you can earn free meals just by making reservations. Click here or on the OpenTable logo above to learn more about the program. And happy dining.