Bullet Point Buffet: Knife & Spoon Sets Opening Target and Other Stuff

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Knife spoon ad

  • The grand folks at Grande Lakes are aiming for an Aug. 1 debut of Knife & Spoon, the steakhouse to be fronted by Dallas chef John Tesar. I’ve been assured that when the restaurant opens, it will offer a full array of flatware. Since K & S is still under construction, the owners have the advantage to open with the appropriate amount of spacing between tables rather than having to reconfigure it. The Ritz-Carlton itself is planning to reopen to guests on July 1, so that means other restaurants, including Highball & Harvest, will be back in operation.
  • Knife & Spoon, of course, is taking over the space that had been occupied for so many years by Norman’s, the upscale restaurant from celebrity chef Norman Van Aken. The website for Norman’s is promising a summer 2020 opening on Sand Lake Boulevard, which sounds so much grander than Sand Lake Road. It’s going in to the former Bravo Italian restaurant space at the Dellagio.

Ceviche Permanently Closes Downtown Orlando Location

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Ceviche ext

Ceviche, the tapas bar and restaurant, has closed its downtown Orlando location. The company made the announcement on its Facebook page Tuesday, blaming the closure to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ceviche will immediately cease operations permanently in Orlando. The closure is very disappointing for all involved. From the bottom of our heart, thank you for the memories, loyalty and support over the past ten years. We are incredibly grateful to all of our guests and team members– thank you.”

Although the statement makes reference to the past 10 years, Ceviche has occupied its place at Church Street Station for more than 12. I first reviewed it for the Orlando Sentinel in January of 2008.

The first Ceviche opened in Tampa in 1997 and others followed in St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Only the St. Petersburg location remains.

Fowler Leaves Jailhouse

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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The Old Jailhouse restaurant in Sanford has been on lockdown since early April, choosing to forego even takeout or delivery, waiting for a reprieve from the governor announcing a reopening.

When that day comes, Bram Fowler will not return to his role as executive chef. In a note, Fowler cited “many different reasons” as part of his decision to sever ties with the restaurant, which has had a tumultuous young life.

It opened to critical acclaim in Spring of 2019, taking over an old building that at one time had been the Seminole County jailhouse. It won Foodster Awards that year for Best New Restaurant and Best Restaurant Overall.

But shortly after it opened, its owner Anthony Sirica was arrested and charged with attempted sexual battery and indecent exposure. The accuser was a contract worker hired by Sirica to clear out a storage unit. She was not employed at the restaurant. A call to Sirica’s lawyer, David Webster, for an update on the status of the case was not immediately returned. Earlier this year, Webster had expected the case to be resolved by April.

Fowler did not comment whether the owner’s legal problem factored into his decision to leave. A new chef is expected to take over the kitchen but details were not available Wednesday morning.

Bram Fowler has been one of the area’s more celebrated chefs for many years. With his wife, Geraldine, he owned Journeys, a popular Longwood restaurant. Geraldine Fowler had been handling Old Jailhouse’s social media. She, too, has severed ties with the restaurant.

Big Tips, Big Hearts, Big Fin

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Big Fin check

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, the Restaurant Row favorite, has managed to keep operating the last couple of months providing takeout and delivery, but it did it with a skeleton crew of mainly managerial staffers. The bulk of the restaurant’s employees were furloughed.

And those of you who continued to order Big Fin’s Scallops Orleans, Crab Cakes and other delicious delicacies showed your appreciation with generous tips.

But general manager Michael Venutolo, who joined Big Fin just before the shutdown and who is the restaurant’s first GM in its 11 year history (!), didn't feel right keeping the tips. “We were still getting paychecks,” Venutolo told a reporter for WKMG News 6, “the hardworking staff weren’t.” So he proposed to the management team that they set the gratuities aside and save them for the regular staffers when they returned.

So they did. They saved $5,000 in tips.

Big Fin doesn’t just have a new general manager, it has new owners, Philippe Villain and Kevin O’Donnell. And the two of them decided they would match what was in the tip jar and increase it to 10 grand.

And that’s what will be distributed to the employees as they return to work.

I thought you could use a little good news today.

Here's a link to the story News 6 ran.