Note: This article has been updated to clarify the status of the Winter Park Dexter's.
You’re probably a bit confused about what’s going on with Dexter’s, aren’t you? I’ll admit it’s all a bit confusing, but let’s see if we can suss this out.
As background, and for those new to the area, Dexter’s started out as a popular wine bar and retail spot in Winter Park. It expanded, changed locations once or twice, went full liquor and lost the retail wine shop part of the business and expanded its food offerings to become more of a full restaurant. Along the way, it added a second location, in Thornton Park, and then Lake Mary and Windermere. Each became known by its address: Dexter’s of Winter Park, Dexter’s of Thornton Park, and so on.
Then, for a variety of reasons, all four were put up for sale last year. And, for the most part, each was obtained by separate entities. The Windermere location started flagging almost immediately following the sale and closed this summer. But the other three remain, although Dexter’s of Winter Park is planning an imminent move from its Hannibal Square location to the former TR Fire Grill space in the Ravaudage complex. Still Winter Park, so the name shouldn’t change, although there is a chance the new restaurant will be rebranded altogether; more on that soon.
But none of that explains what’s going on with Dexter’s. As it was characterized to me, each location still has some things in common with the other two – menu focus, for example, although that may change because none is contractually bound to present the same menu – but each also has something different. Winter Park, for example, is more music focused and regularly features live bands. Lake Mary’s vibe is more laid back to match its suburban (do we still call them bedroom communities?) locale.
But Thornton Park’s seems different from the other two. For one thing, it’s nestled in the well-established neighborhood and occupies a free-standing structure that was originally a Publix market. The Lake Mary and Winter Park restaurants are in newer developments, as was Windermere’s. Indeed, although it was the second Dexter’s, the Thornton Park location is the oldest, observing its twenty-fifth anniversary. It just has a homier feel.
And it also seems to focus more on its food than its estranged cousins.