Mauricio Colindres, Co-owner of Chatham's Place, Dies at 71

Written by Scott Joseph on .

ColindresNote: This story has been amended to add details on funeral arrangements.

Mauricio Colindres, one of the two owners of Orlando’s venerable Chatham’s Place restaurant, died Saturday. The cause was cancer, according to a coworker. Colindres was 71.

Colindres had been working at restaurant in Dr. Phillips for several years when owner Louis Chatham expressed a desire to sell the business. Chatham had started the restaurant with his brother Randolph in Windermere and moved it in the early ‘90s to is current location, on the ground floor of an office building on Dr. Phillips Boulevard just north of Sand Lake Road. It would be years before more restaurants started to move into the area — though none close to Chatham’s — to warrant the Restaurant Row designation.

But Louis Chatham grew disillusioned with the business after the sudden death of Randolph. When Chatham said he wanted to sell the restaurant, Colindres, Chatham’s sous chef, Tony Lopez, and Carol Conwell, a regular customer who wanted a job, got together and bought it in early 1997. Lopez took over as executive chef, Colindres was the maitre ‘d and manager, and Conwell served as hostess, taking over for Chatham’s mother, Bettye. Louis Chatham told me at the time that he had two other interested buyers, both with cash, but he wanted the people who had helped to build the restaurant’s reputation to have it.

The three kept the restaurant going and maintained its high standards. In a followup review later in 1997, I wrote that not only were the new owners keeping the quality level high but they just might have improved it.

Conwell died in late 2006, leaving Lopez and Colindres as the two remaining partners. Colindres told me at the time that it was their intention to keep the restaurant going in her honor.

Colindres learned that he had lung cancer in May this year, according to Liza Causey, a manager at the restaurant. He was undergoing chemotherapy, said Causey, the staff was looking forward to him coming to the restaurant on New Year’s Eve. They learned of his death Saturday shortly before the restaurant opened for dinner service. Lopez was not available for comment Monday.

Colindres is survived by his wife, Alicia, two sons and a daughter.

Services will be held Friday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m. at St. James Cathedral, 215 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. A reception will follow from 11 a.m. to noon.

MagDinMo Served a Lot of Diners and Raised a Lot of Dineros

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Magdinmo checkBest Buddies ambassadors Seaira Sevison and Travis Morgan; Emily Hunt, director of state operations, Best Buddies Florida; Don Engfer, Visit Orlando Board Chair; Joanne Marsal Vassos, American Express; Amy Drow, development manager, Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida; and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida ambassadors Paige and Tristan McMillen. Image courtesy of Visit Orlando.

A record number of people dined at participating Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month restaurants this year, 251,766 to be exact.

How do I know that? Because for each dinner sold from the special $35 three-course menu, the restaurants donated one dollar to charities chosen by Visit Orlando to benefit from the proceeds. This year the dining program raised $251,766, more than any previous year.

The recipients of the dining dollars this year are Best Buddies, which fosters inclusion and one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and The Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida, which strives for acceptance and empowerment for people with Down syndrome and their families.

“What another fantastic year for our Magical Dining program,” George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, said in a statement. “Along with our valuable members in the restaurant industry, we’re excited to make this record contribution to our friends at Best Buddies and the Down Syndrome Association.”

Visit Orlando estimates that it has donated more than $1 million to local charities since initiating the donation feature in 2009. Other charities that have benefitted include:

Bauern-Stube is Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bauern stube

Bauern-Stube, the longtime German restaurant, has apparently closed. The restaurant had been in business since 1987, originally in the strip mall on South Orange Avenue at Hoffner Avenue, then for the past several years in a former Pizza Hut hut on Orange Avenue just north of Sand Lake Road.

The restaurant was owned by Barbara Hutto, a German native, who oversaw all aspects of the business. Attempts to reach Hutto Tuesday were not immediately successful.

Bauern-Stube specialized in Old World German dishes, from simple Currywurst to Sauerbraten and Wienerschnitzel. It was also known for its eclectic and chaotic interior, decorated with German gewgaws.

Chef's Table Owners Taking Over Winter Garden's Attic Door

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Attic Door

Laurie and Kevin Tarter, owners of the wildly popular Chef’s Table at the Edgewater and companion restaurant the Tasting Room, have acquired a third Winter Garden venue.

The couple will take over the Attic Door, a wine bar and live music venue, from current owner Lori Gibson. In a Facebook post, the Tarters said that Gibson “has decided to move onto the next phase in her life and has chosen us to be the caretakers of her legacy.”

Speaking by phone Tuesday, Laurie Tarter said they had been friends with Gibson for many years because when they opened the Chef’s Table restaurant there wasn’t a lot going on in Winter Garden. “We played really well together,” Tarter said. Today, of course, Winter Garden is a vibrant community of restaurants and nighttime venues.