Senor Frog's Parent Company, an International Mystery and the Local Connection

Written by Scott Joseph on .

There’s an interesting juxtaposition of news in today’s Orlando Sentinel. On one page is Sara Clarke’s story about the opening of Grupo Anderson’s Senor Frog’s on International Drive. On another page is an item regarding an apology from Joran van der Sloot for killing a Peruvian woman. Do you know the connection? And do you know how a Central Florida company figured into it?

Timpano Offers Free Ride to Restaurant

Written by Scott Joseph on .

As you’re probably aware, Timpano, one of the earliest inhabitants of Orlando’s Restaurant Row, was acquired by the restaurant arm of Tavistock after original owner E-Brands went belly up. (Never quite understood that term -- belly up isn’t always a bad thing, but I think you know what I mean here.) Tavistock also got Samba Room in the deal, but was able to unload, um, sell it off. The Restaurant Row Samba Room, next door to Timpano, will soon become Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, a chain out of West Palm Beach that apparently features the owner pouring tequila down the throats of patrons who belly up (You see! Right there!) to the bar. Be sure to bring the kids!


Anyway, one of the things Tavistock inherited with its acquisition of Timpano, which was first started by Carlson Wordwide, parent company of TGI Fridays, before it unloaded, um, sold it to Orlando-based E-Brands, is the indifference locals feel towards the brand, whatever that is. It claims Italian Chophouse as its subhead, but no one -- and by no one I mean mainly myself -- could ever figure out if it was an Italian restaurant that served steaks or a steakhouse that served Italian food.


So Tavistock Restaurant Group is trying to do what it can to reinvigorate the restaurant and get locals to try it out. To that end, Timpano is offering free shuttle service to guests.

Stefano's Italian Grille and McCormick's and Schmick's Join Growing List of Closed Restaurants

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Updated with information about gift cards.


This is turning out to be a rotten week for restaurants. First we had word of the closings of Harper’s and City Fire. This morning, the Orlando Sentinel reports that McCormick and Schmick’s new owner, Landry’s Seafood, has closed the Mall at Millenia location. Now I’ve just confirmed that Stefano’s Italian Grille in Windermere served its last meals New Year’s Eve.


Co-owner Mary Tedesci says that she and her husband, Chef Steff, are looking for a place to relocate the business. They are considering the freshly closed City Fire on Restaurant Row and the former location of Wa on Turkey Lake Road among others. Tedesci says they hope to find a space and reopen by the end of February.


Update: If you have a gift card to McCormick & Schmick's, it will be honored at any of the Landry's restaurants, including, locally, Oceaniare Seafood Room at Pointe Orlando, Bubba Gump's at CityWalk, Landry's Seafood near Lake Buena Vista, T-Rex Cafe and Rainforest Cafe at Walt Disney World. Oceanaire Seafood Room assistant manager Roger Warren suggests diners present the card upon seating to faciliate its acceptance at the end of the meal (always good advice).



Maxine's on Shine Replaces Shine Neighborhood Kitchen

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Shine_Neighborhood_KitchenWelcome now to the neighborhood Maxine’s. Maxine’s on Shine, to be exact.


That’s the new name of the restaurant that opened in September of 2010 as Shine Neighborhood Kitchen. That business was a partnership that included some of the owners of Graffiti Junktion. Recently one of the partners, Kirt Earhart, bought out the others. The new name is partly to honor his wife, Maxine Broadwell, and partly because Earhart felt that a restaurant with a name sounds friendlier.


Earhart was well familiar with the space at 337 N. Shine Ave. having been on the staff of Bravissimo when it occupied it for many years. Besides the change in name, Earhart says there have been some decor changes (the restaurant closed for a few days so that Maxine could “move in” and reopened Thursday evening). The menu, he says, will “implode before it explodes,” meaning that he and Bret Ashman (Spooky’s, the Social Chameleon), who is overseeing the kitchen as chef and partner, will focus on selected items from the Shine menu and then slowly add new dishes. Earhart says it will keep its Italian and Mediterranean flavor for now, but “you’ll start to see some latin, maybe some Asian, in the form of specials” featured.


One nice touch: Earhart says that Maxine’s will continue to honor SJO Dining Deals purchased for Shine Neighborhood Kitchen.


Other plans include a website and mobile application that will allow guests to order food before they arrive.