Yen Yen Chinese Restaurant is Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Yen Yen, the charming Chinese restaurant with locations in Cocoa Beach and Winter Springs has closed. News came first of the Winter Springs restaurants, which opened in 2007, with an "urgent announcement" on the eatery's Web site:

To all my lovely customers and friends:

Regretfully announced the closure of Yen Yen Winter Springs effectively immediately. Thank you very much for all the past support indeed. I had a wonderful time with you in my Life, and of course, the unforgettable memory that can never disappear. You all take good care of yourself. Stay well! All the best!

Tely Tse

However, a call to the Cocoa Beach restaurant, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Minuteman Causeway, got a recorded greeting that said that restaurant, too, was closed, due to renovations in the kitchen.

I reviewed both restaurants in 2007 and found the food, the service and the decor enjoyable, especially the Winter Springs location. (The Cocoa Beach restaurant took over the building that has been various businesses over the years, including the Prince of Wales British pub.) It could very well be that the Cocoa Beach restaurant is indeed undergoing renovations, but it doesn't sound good.

La Hacienda and La Cantina Open at Epcot's Mexico Pavilion

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Click image above to see video of the grand opening.

Epcot’s newest restaurants, the remodeled La Cantina de San Angel quick serve and the new full-service La Hacienda de San Angel, were dedicated in a grand opening ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. The date was significant because it marked the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence. The restaurants are open to the public as of Thursday, Sept. 16.

La Cantina had long been a favorite of visitors to the Mexico pavilion who preferred something quicker -- and less pricey -- than the San Angel Inn inside the pavilion. Many also preferred sitting outside on the shore of the lagoon rather than in the perpetual night atmosphere of the Inn. (San Angel Inn gives the illusion of dining outdoors, next to a river that is the waterway for the pavilion’s ride, but we know it isn’t real. Right?)

Annual Florida Restaurant Show is a Look at Things To Come. Or Not.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

It doesn’t take as long to walk the exhibition floor at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show as it used to. Thanks, Recession!moneycop

I look forward each year to walking the aisles of the show at the convention center to get an idea of what’s trending. By seeing what the vendors are selling and sampling -- and what the attendees, the restaurant owners and chefs are buying -- I try to discern what we’ll be seeing in restaurants the coming year. Yes, it’s a little like reading tea leaves, but sometimes the leaves are right. 

But this year, as was the case last year, there are no tea leaves to read. Vendors and buyers, it seems, are still lying low, waiting for the economy to improve before making changes. At least in terms of food. I saw no food item that seemed to be “the thing” to have this year, nothing that was a must add for a restaurant’s menu. There were lots of cheeses, and cheesecakes, as was the case last year. If there was one encouraging sign it was that there seemed to be more vendors sampling beef products. Nothing extravagant or groundbreaking in the presentation, but it could be an indication that this higher-food-cost item is making a comeback. That’s much more encouraging than seeing aisle after aisle of tilapia purveyors.

La Nuova Cucina to Close

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Update 9/28: The owners have decided to keep the restaurant open.

La Nuova Cucina, the charming Italian restaurant with a Brazilian flair, will close September 26. In a letter to suppliers, restaurant spokeswoman Ana Carvalho cited the health of chef/owner Paulo Baroni, as well as economic issues, as the reason. Baroni suffered a heart attack earlier this summer, which, compounded with existing medical conditions, limited his involvement in the restaurant. Baroni was also dealing with financial troubles in his native Brazil, where he also owns restaurants.

La Nuova Cucina is a participant in the current Orlando Magical Dining Month promotion. Diners should still be able to order from the special menu, as well as the regular menu, through the 26th.

La Nuova Cucina was a welcome addition to Orlando’s Restaurant Row. It was nice to have an intimate, independently owned restaurant among the larger, branded venues. Although it was short-lived, it will be missed.