Oblivion Taproom Planned for Former Straub's Space

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Oblivion Taproom's logo is a good indication that early bird dinners will not be a focus here.
Coming soon to an abandoned Straub’s near you: Oblivion Taproom. That’s the name -- and one hopes not the status -- of a planned restaurant in the former Straub’s Fine Seafood restaurant on East Colonial Drive in Orlando. The restaurant will be owned by Pete Wesenberg and his wife, Melissa Jahn. Jim “Goody” Goodman, formerly of the JW Marriott, has signed on as chef.

Wesenberg told me that “the idea is to offer gastropub quality food at bar & grill prices.” He said the menu will be typical pub far but made from scratch, including, he said, the patties for the burgers. “No pre-formed Sysco patties here,” he said.

With Taproom as part of the name, the restaurant will offer a large assortment of craft beers, at least 20 on tap, plus an “ample bottle selection.” There also will be wine and full liquor.

The decor, says Wesenberg, will have “a bit of an edgy feel to it, more rock ‘n roll, less institutional. Needless to say we’re not exactly targeting the early bird crowd from our previous tenant.” (Straub’s was known for its early evening menu, popular among seniors. The seafood restaurant closed several years ago ostensibly because, a tenant said at the time, needed repairs to the property’s septic system were prohibitive.) Plans call for Oblivion Taproom to operate 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Sounds like they’re paying attention to detail and have an eye toward good quality, from what Wesenberg has told me. Not sure why they’ve chosen the name Oblivion, which the dictionary defines as “the state of being forgotten, esp. by the public.” Irony, I’m guessing.

Wesenberg says the team is aiming for a late March 2011 opening. Stay tuned for updates.


Inside the Disney Dream Galleys, an Exclusive Tour

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Inside the Disney Dream Galley

When I sailed on the Disney Dream's christening cruise last month, I was granted an exclusive tour of the ship's main galleys, the massive kitchen facilities that most passengers will never see. (Click on the image above to see a video tour with James Willoughby, hotel director in training.) The galleys are on two decks and serve the three main dining rooms: Royal Palace and Animator's Palate on deck 3 and Enchanted Garden on deck 2. The ship's two premium restaurants, Remy and Palo, have separate kitchens on upper decks. It's from the main galleys that the ship's crew prepares over 15,000 meals daily for the passengers and crew on Disney's newest ship.

Click on the image above to see the video or click this link to watch "Inside the Disney Dream Galleys."

See also: Review of Remy on the Disney Dream and a video of all the dining options on the Disney Dream


John Rivers Planning 4Rivers Smokehouse Plus Bakery and Butcher for Longwood

Written by Scott Joseph on .

EXCLUSIVE -- John Rivers, the owner of the wildly popular 4Rivers Smokehouse barbecue restaurant in Winter Park, is continuing with his plans to expand and bring his tasty ‘cue to the world, or at least to more Central Floridians. His second location, in Winter Garden, is still a month or two away. But he’s already thinking about the next location, and this one will be different in a couple of ways.

Rivers has his eye on the Crispers space in the Longwood Village Shoppes on State Road 434 just off Interstate 4. It isn’t a done deal, but he says that all the parties are in agreement, and they’re now at the negotiating phase. “Lot’s of negotiating still,” he cautions. If it goes through, it will be the first of his restaurants that would not be in a free-standing structure, but rather "inline" in a strip mall.

It would also have more room, and that, says Rivers, would allow him to offer a little bit more. He wants to add a butcher and bakery to the smokehouse concept. “I’ve always wanted to do a full fresh bakery,” he told me, and a “pure butcher shop” where he could make his own pastrami and corned beef. Of course, this is just a bone’s throw away from Petty’s Meats, but Rivers says what he has in mind will be something different.

Should be good. Rivers has demonstrated a knack for good business sense. Plus, he obviously understands that the quality of the product is a key ingredient. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe they’ll be something exciting up Longwood way by, say, October.


Lime Fresh Mexican Grill to Replace Johnny Rockets in Winter Park Village

Written by Scott Joseph on .

John Kunkel, founder and CEO of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, plans to bring his Tex-Mex style restaurant to Winter Park Village. Kunkel said he expected to sign a lease today to acquire the Johnny Rockets restaurant next to the shopping plaza’s movie complex. According to Kunkel, Johnny Rockets, the malt shop-style burger restaurant, will have 60 days to vacate the property; he estimated it would take another 60 days after that to convert the space to a Lime.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill opened its first location outside of its South Florida home in Orlando in October of last year. Lime is a fast casual restaurant where guests order at a counter but have their selections brought to them at a table. The menu features tacos, burritos, quesadillas and other Tex-Mex standards.