Bananas Diner is Now Open

Written by Scott Joseph on .

If it's 5 p.m., that means Bananas Diner, the latest concept from the Funky Monkey crew, has officially opened for business. Following a week or so of practice meals, the "modernbananas American diner" opens to the public August 2.

Just two doors up from the original Monkey at 924 N. Mills Avenue, Bananas will serve basic diner fare with a few twists, such as burgers done 18 ways (not all at once on the same plate, mind you) and eggs Benedict done six ways. As you would expect from these guys, the decor is kind of funky. (Check out the padded leather black-and-red checkerboard ceiling.)

Hours will be: Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Opening Thursday at 6 a.m. and staying open until Sunday at 11 p.m. For more information, visit the Web site at Call the restaurant at 407-480-2200.

Click here to download the front of the menu and here for the back of the menu .

Journeys at Alaqua Loses Lease, Will Close in August

Written by Scott Joseph on .

It hasn't been quite a full year since Journeys moved from its five-year-plus home in Longwood Village Shoppes to Alaqua Country Club. It reopened August 4, 2009, as Journeys at Alaqua for what chef/owner Bram Fowler believed was a three-year agreement.

But Fowler says now that the owner of the country club has given him notice and the restaurant will close August 19. Fowler, who operates the restaurant with his wife, Geraldine, says he does not know what he will do next. He told me, however, that he's finished with hard-to-spot locations.

The original Journeys location -- where Chef Henry's is now -- is set back from the front of the plaza; not good for drive-by traffic. And at Alaqua, diners were required to pass through the guard gate and drive another mile past McMansions (many of which appear to be owned by people who have more money than good taste, but that's neither here nor there). Journeys at Alaqua occupied a large space in the golf community's country club. Fowler said he believed the owner of the country club will once again take it private and will bring in a catering company to provide basic food items to members. Residents of the gated community, apparently, weren't interested in Fowler's haute cuisine. (Coincidentally, a resident of another gated community, Isleworth, told me the same thing recently. Some of the wealthiest people in town live there, but, he said, stand at the guard gate on any given evening and you'll see a parade of pizza deliveries.)

It's a shame to see Journeys close -- again -- but I look forwar to having the Fowlers reopen in another location, one that's more accessible. I'll let you know when I hear something.

Exclusive: Graffiti Junktion Plans to Take Over Former K Restaurant Space

Written by Scott Joseph on .

graffiti_junktionGraffiti Junktion, which had been looking at moving in to the old Ole Ole space at New York and Fairbanks Avenues in Winter Park, is instead aiming at College Park and the former home of K Restaurant Wine Bar on Edgewater Drive. Earlier this year, Kevin Fonzo moved his business, now known simply as K Restaurant, down Edgewater Drive to the space where his other restaurant, Nonna Trattoria, had been, effectively combining the two restaurants. Graffiti Junktion will fit more with the clientele of Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub up the block than with the former K crowd, or, for that matter, the patrons of Harmoni Market and Julianna's across the street or Adriatico virtually next door.

How done is this deal? I hear the prospective tenants have the keys to the new place and are planning for a September opening.

Graffiti Junktion's owners are dropping their plans for a burger bar in Winter Park, but plans are moving ahead for a restaurant in the former Bravissimo spot on Shine Avenue. That, neighbors will be happy to know, will be a more romantic and sedate restaurant than the decidedly manic -- and boistrous -- Graffiti Junktion.

Charley's Steak House Honored by American Culinary Federation

Written by Scott Joseph on .

charleysCharley's Steak House, flagship brand of Orlando's Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, will be honored by the American Culinary Federation with its Achievement of Excellence Award. Charley's is one of eight restaurants that will be recognized at ACF's national convention in Anaheim, Aug. 2-5.

“Charley’s Steak House is honored and excited to be recognized by the American Culinary Federation with its Achievement of Excellence Award,” Ron Woodsby, owner/president of Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, said in a prepared statement. “The award-winning foundation of Charley’s Steakhouse is built on the never-ending drive to be an innovative trendsetter for excellence in the industry and to extend an uncompromising commitment to exceed all expectations.”

The Achievement of Excellence Award recognizes foodservice establishments that exemplify a commitment to excellence. Criteria for the award includes being in operation for at least five consecutive years, nomination by an ACF chapter, member or individual in the foodservice profession, and being a recognized industry leader. Charley's has been in operation since 1974. Besides three Charley's steakhouses, Talk of the Town also owns and operates FishBones, Moonfish, Vito's Chop House and Johnnie's Hideaway restaurants in the Orlando area.

The American Culinary Federation, which is headquartered in St. Augustine, offers certification for chefs and claims a membership of 20,000 culinary professionals in 225 chapters across the nation.