Zaxby's Will Open New Location Near UCF

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Zaxby’s, the chicken fast fooder based in Athens, Georgia, is constructing a new location, its third in Central Florida, near the University of Central Florida at 11554 University Blvd. There are other Zaxby’s near the Mall at Millenia (actually on the SuperTarget side), and in Kissimmee at 1885 N. John Young Parkway.  

As I mentioned, Zaxby’s is a fast food restaurant (although the company prefers to call itself “an alternative to fast food” and quick-casual) whose focus is breaded chicken fingers and Buffalo style wings. Customers order their food at the counter and are called to the pick-up window when the order is ready (sounds like fast food to me; quick-casual usually involves having the food delivered to the table after ordering at the counter). I visited the first Orlando location when it opened a few years ago and found the food perfectly acceptable, if fried chicken fingers is the sort of thing you seek.

The licensees for the Orlando market are Brad Harper and Allison Hartwig. Harper also owns three Zaxby’s in Ocala. Zaxby’s locations are in 12 states, primarily in the South. There are 500 Zaxby’s locations; the one near UCF will be Florida’s 39th. It is expected to employ 50 to 60 people. The owners are trying for an Oct. 25 opening.


False Labor: Delivery of Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar Delayed Again

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Oct. 13 is the new target date

Baby Grands, the much anticipated bar that will bring the dueling pianos concept back to downtown Orlando, has put off its opening date. Again. The company had originally planned to open Oct. 1, the same day as the Amway Center, but late last month pushed the date back to Oct. 8 -- today. Indeed, the Baby Grands Facebook page still lists tonight as the opening. However, someone reached at the Church Street bar said the owners were now looking to Wednesday, Oct. 13, to open. Don’t write that down in ink; it could easily change again.

Baby Grands will be a bar -- the Web site lists no food -- with two pianos playing requests for sing-alongs and dancing, accompanied by “multi-media effects.” It will seat 400 patrons.

Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar is to be part of what many are hoping will be a resurgence in the Church Street dining and entertainment district. Once a destination for locals and tourists alike, Church Street’s businesses faltered when Universal Studios and Walt Disney World opened competing nighttime entertainment venues. One of Church Street’s popular spots was Howl at the Moon, a dueling pianos bar whose location was demolished for the construction of 55 West condominiums. Howl at the Moon relocated to International Drive.


Swan and Dolphin Offer Offshoot Food and Wine Classic to Neighboring Festival

Written by Scott Joseph on .

I think this is a really smart thing. The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotels, which usually sit over to the side during the six weeks of Epcot’sswan_dolphin International Food & Wine festival, unable to beat ‘em has decided to join ‘em. This weekend, Oct. 8 and 9, the hotels are offering their own little festival, called the Food & Wine Classic. Here are some of the details as presented by the Swan and Dolphin’s pressers:

“Each evening will feature beverage seminars and a culinary festival with live music and tastings from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and lounges.

“Guests have the opportunity to choose from six hands-on beverage classes taught by certified wine sommeliers and beer and cocktail specialists from the hotel’s team. Attendees will learn about their topic of choice - ranging from a wine-blending seminar to a sake hour - through watching, listening, touching and of course, tasting!

“Immediately following the lessons, guests can wander the causeway while being serenaded by live musicians and savoring numerous tasty offerings. The food samplings will include “Steamrollers,” a creative take on molecular cuisine, from celebrity chef venue Todd English’s bluezoo; “Pick Your Own Filet” from Shula’s Steak House; a simple yet flavorful hand-crafted pasta from Il Mulino New York Trattoria and more. Each day of the event will feature a different selection of food.

Luck Be a Dessert Lady; Amway Center Opening Means Increased Demand

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Patti Schmidt, the Dessert Lady
Like other businesses on Church Street, the Dessert Lady toughed it out the past couple of years with the double whammy of an economic downturn (which included, for some, the bankruptcy of their landlord) and disruptive construction. Some businesses didn’t survive; others relocated. But those who made it through are optimistic that Friday’s opening of Amway Center events venue will signal a resurgence for the area.

But the Dessert Lady, a.k.a. Patti Schmidt, has reason to be doubly glad to see the new arena open. There is, of course, the possibility of increased traffic on the street as people go to and from the arena. But for Schmidt, the Amway Center is also a new outlet for her award-winning cakes and pies.