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.

Latin Food & Wine Festival Kicks Off Friday with Savor the Night; Grand Tasting Saturday

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Singer/songwriter Alicastro
This is a big weekend for food and wine aficionados. Besides the kickoff of Disney’s six week-long Epcot International Food and Wine Festival the annual Latin Food & Wine Festival will take place in a festive two-day affair.

LF&W is the area’s premier wine and culinary event with a Latin flair, attended by as many as 5000 people. On Friday, Oct. 1, the opening event, Savor the Night, will get the weekend rolling. It will take place at Stirling Global Gallery at the Plaza, on the 16th floor of the downtown high rise. This night is a bit more intimate, about 300 people, and will feature food and wine and spirits, too. There will be entertainment, including Colombian singer/songwriter Alicastro, and a silent auction with some terrific items. One of the prizes to be auctioned is dinner for two at the soon-to-open Napa restaurant at the Peabody Orlando with me. We’ll dine on appetizers, entrees and desserts with wine pairings, and I’ll use your comments when I write the review. I’m honored to be the emcee of Friday’s Savor the Night event, so I’ll be pushing that item.

Saturday is the Grand Tasting at the Dellagio Town Center. No, there is no Dellagio, Florida. That’s the name of the new development in the Restaurant Row section of Sand Lake Road, just West of Dr. Phillips Boulevard. This is where you’ll find Fleming’s, Big Fin, Cantina Laredo, Dragonfly and others. There’s also a beautiful plaza with a big fountain. It’s going to be a great setting for the tasting. I’ll have some more information soon about specific restaurants and wine vendors. And of course there will be lots more entertainment. This will surely be a grand event.

The Friday event is $60, and tickets can be purchased by calling 407-428-5870. Saturday’s Grand Tasting is free to attend; food and wine can be purchased with LF&W “pesos” to be sold at the event. The Latin Food & Wine Festival is sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. Here’s a link to the festival’s Web site.

The Plaza is at 121 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. Dellagio Town Center is at 7940 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando.