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.