Bullet Point Buffet: Openings, Changes

Written by Scott Joseph on .

First Watch Open

  • First Watch has reopened its Central Florida restaurants as of Monday, June 1. The popular breakfast and lunch spot closed all of its locations nationwide on April 13 after operating on a takeout and delivery basis for several weeks. New protocols include screening staff members before each shift; making face coverings and gloves available to staff; and providing single-use menus and condiments. The restaurants will continue to offer no-contact takeout and delivery. Florida restaurants are currently allowed to operate at 50 percent of capacity with a minimum of six feet between tables.
  • Delaney’s Tavern is expanding its outdoor seating, adding umbrellas and outdoor air-conditioning units. Inside, plexiglass partitions are being added between booths.

Restaurant & Lodging Show Cancelled

Written by Scott Joseph on .


The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, the largest restaurant trade show in the southeast, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place Sept. 22-23 at the Orange County Convention Center.

The annual show, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, features seminars, workshops and demonstrations as well as exhibitors displaying all the things that go into owning and operating a restaurant, from menu covers and tableware to pots, pans, stoves and refrigeration units. Food and beverage samplers are also a part of the show, which generally is not open to the public.

The American Culinary Federation Central Florida Chapter (ACF/CFC) conducts its culinary arts and pastry arts competitions in conjunction with the show. Those have been cancelled, too. Scott Joseph’s Sous Chef Challenge, another cooking competition under the sponsorship of ACF/CFC, is also cancelled. The Sous Chef Challenge offered the rare opportunity for members of the general public to attend the expo.

The show, which includes the Healthy Food Expo Florida, has been rescheduled for Sept. 19-20, 2021.

A letter from ACF/CFC president Joe Alfano (picuted above judging last year's Sous Chef Challenge) and competition chairman Bryan Frick stated, “The consequences of this very real virus have impacted our industry to an extent that is almost beyond comprehension.

“We will be back next year, barring any unforeseen circumstances, with our competitions and look forward to your participation.”

Winter Garden's Chef's Table Hires New Executive Chef

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Tarters and Womelsdorf

We have news out of Winter Garden. Kevin and Laurie Tarter, owners of Chef’s Table at the Edgewater and other WG venues, have announced the hiring of Crystal Womelsdorf as executive chef. David Lampman will continue on at the popular restaurant as chef de cuisine. (Womelsdorf is pictured above at right with the Tarters.)

This is a homecoming of sorts for Womelsdorf, who had worked with the Tarters when they were on the staff at California Grill and joined them when they started their chef table concept 12 years ago this month.

She left, however, to expand her cooking credentials and most recently was with Chicago’s Quartino, which sounds a little too much like quarantino, one of the Gibsons Restaurant Group’s brands. GRG also owns the Boathouse at Disney Springs.

Laurie Tarter said she was able to convince Womelsdorf to return to Winter Garden and be part of the Chef’s Table’s soft reopening this week.

Tarter also said that they have some big changes coming up soon but she wasn’t able to reveal them just yet.

More on the soft reopening soon. The Tarter's Attic Door recently reopened.

Confirmed: Spoleto Italian Kitchen has Closed All Central Florida Locations

Written by Scott Joseph on .

spoleto exterior

As reported earlier this week, Spoleto Italian Kitchen, the South American-born chain of quick-serve restaurants, appeared to have closed all of its Central Florida locations. At the time of publication, none of the chain’s representatives were available for comment. Friday, managing partner Laura Henderson returned a call to confirm that indeed the restaurants are permanently closed. She cited the pandemic as the reason for the shutdown, noting that the parent company is in Brazil, which is currently being hard hit by the coronavirus.

The chain – originally known as Spoleto – My Italian Kitchen – was started in 1999 in Rio de Janeiro and opened its first restaurant in the United States in Orlando in 2015 on University Boulevard. It was an assemblage concept that had the customer choose the type of pasta, sauces and other ingredients to be added to a bowl by a staff member behind the line. It was reviewed hereon April 8, 2015.

Three other locations opened in Central Florida, including in Winter Park, Windermere and inside Florida Mall.

There are more than 350 Spoleto Italian Kitchens in Brazil, which has the largest population of Italians outside of Italy.

According to his Linkedin profile, John Velasquez, who brought the Spoleto brand to the U.S., left the company in December.

Henderson said in her call that she hoped that in a year or so after the pandemic crisis is over that Spoleto could once again reopen in Central Florida.