A Toast to Good News

A slice of Orlando restaurants gets a break on liquor licenses. Plus, check out intriguing jerky options.


Kirt Earhart, proprietor of Maxine’s On Shine (along with proprietrix Maxine), called late last week to tell me about the state Legislature's passage of a bill allowing smaller downtown Orlando restaurants with 80 seats and at least 1,800 square feet to procure a full liquor license. The previous requirement of 150 seats and 2,500 square feet shut out restaurants like Maxine’s from having a bar.

If you’re unaware, a liquor license is a costly but economically valuable part of doing business for a restaurant, offering a full-service alternative to bars for its customers, and to be frank, a healthy profit stream that in some cases can keep a small eatery in business. The campaign to enact this bill has been going on for more than six years, with Earhart at the forefront, and his opening to me was, “If I could dance a jig and compose poetry while driving, I’d be doing that right now.”

What this means to us is the hope that there might actually be hope for small boutique restaurants downtown instead of the never-ending, soul-crushing invasion of bars.

The area affected includes a slice of downtown bordered by Westmoreland Drive, West Gore Street, the Mills/Ferncreek corridor and Colonial Drive, with an extension up to Lake Ivanhoe and Lake Highland. 

Jerky Every Day

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, thoughts turn to outdoor activities, hiking, and jerky.

That’s not exactly true—I’m no more a hiker than I am a skydiving aficionado, which is to say, never. But I do like a snack while driving through the wonders of nature, and lately I’ve noticed an embarrassment of non-beef dried alternatives that are fascinating.

Kaimana Jerky of Hawaii makes several flavors of ahi tuna and marlin jerky. Michael Pan makes shiitake mushroom jerky in Illinois based on his Malaysian family recipes. Wash it down with a cuppa coffee from Venice, California’s Four Sigmatic, made with Cordyceps, Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushrooms.  

The Newport Jerky Company is drying sliced Moroccan octopus, python, earthworms, snapping turtle, kangaroo, alligator and ostrich for their varieties of sticks and strips. Or perhaps their hammerhead shark or camel jerky, or the “Roadkill Summer Sausage” would appeal, with a side dish of black scorpion.

The Cricket Flours company in Portland, Oregon, makes actual flour from crickets (it’s gluten free!), along with dried spicy mealworms and five flavors of roasted crickets.

A company called Akua even has a Kickstarter to raise $25,000 to make and market jerky made from mineral and vitamin-rich ocean-farmed sugar kelp from New England.

In other, non-meat related news, the massive Sonic Drive-In chain has jumped on the Culinary Institute of America’s “Menus of Change” initiative and will be serving blended beef-mushroom burgers, with up to 30 percent mushrooms in the mix offered from all of its 3,500 drive-in restaurants. The all-plant Impossible Burger (you know, the one that bleeds) is being served at Wahlburgers and the Toasted outlets, and plant and grain-based Frankensteinian amalgams Beyond and “Raw” burgers can be found at Costco, Walmart and Whole Foods Market.

Got some tips for dining around Orlando? A question about the best places for your favorite food? Send me a note. Stay in touch at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!


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Savor Orlando

From fine dining to local hot spots, the latest restaurant news, reviews and more.

About This Blog

For the past 20 years, I've made my living as a features, food and travel writer, playwright and jazz producer. I collect odd facts about Central Florida's food scene, such as College Park once being a pineapple plantation; or where to sample local mead (hint: it's in DeLand). I'd rather eat small tastes than a big meal, and my go-to food is noodles.

Find out more at jrhayes.net

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