Comings & Goings

Departures and yet...many opportunities.


So many things going on in Orlando eating, it’s hard to know where to start. How about some vacancies?

* Founding chef Josh Oakley has left Smiling Bison in Sanford due to “creative differences”; Chef Ryan McLaughlin is no longer at K Restaurant; Chef Wendy Lopez, late of Tapa Toro, is now in the kitchen at Jason Chin’s Reyes Mezcaleria.

* El Buda, the Roberto Treviño-led Latin-Asian fusion restaurant on Church Street, has closed. Chef Trevino was not available for comment, but business had always been unpredictable at El Buda, and when I spoke to him back in July he lauded the busy weekend crowds while saying that weekdays were uncomfortably quiet. The location has been occupied by Eternal Tap, Absinthe Bistro, Louis Chatham’s Louis’ Downtown, the first location of Brick and Fire, and Chef Jason Schofield’s brief Maddy’s Craft and Cru experiment.

* Muddy Waters, the Lake Eola-area New Orleans-themed restaurant from Orlando magazine Dining Hall of fame inductee chef Bernard Carmouche, has closed, to be replaced by a new concept called Menagerie Eatery and Bar, courtesy of the owners of the Stubborn Mule across the street. You’ll remember the acclaimed Two Chefs Seafood Bar that Carmouche ran with partner and Larry Sinibaldi closed late last year.

Blue Bird Bake Shop in the Audubon Park district is under new ownership. Jeff Lambert and Joel Pfrogner, who opened the independent bakery in 2010, stated on their Facebook page that “the Aguilera Family” are the new proprietors. Hopefully they will take a cue from their neighbors P is for Pie, and keep the name and concept.

* The darlings of falafel and hummus, Hubbly Bubbly, are leaving their original College Park location and concentrating on the Orange Ave. Downtown spot. Foxtail Coffee will be taking over the Edgewater Drive spot.

Catching up, this year we lost:
* Emeril’s at Universal CityWalk (his Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, shuttered on December 31, 2017);
* Zona Fresca and Tony Roma-owned TR Fire Grill, both at the unfortunately named Ravaudage;
* Funky Monkey at Pointe Orlando, and Brooklyn Coffee Shop, which replaced Restaurant Ash, the bistro run by “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant and Funky Monkey co-owner’s daughter Ashley Nickell;
* The once innovative permanent pop-up venue Truck Stop Restaurant in Thornton Park;
* The expensive Church Street investment called Ferg’s Depot, leaving a 15,000 square foot space to be filled by an unnamed project from new owners Rob and Joe Nunziata, who built the downtown Walgreens;
* A mainstay of Colonial Drive’s food scene, Chan’s Chinese, will be closing its doors after 21 years;
* Schumann’s Lager Haus on Church Street, which I kinda liked, to be replaced by Danny and Pat’s, under the same ownership.

All of these closings mean, of course, a plethora of new eateries are in our future.

One door closes, another opens. What are you looking forward for in 2019? Send me a note. Stay in touch at and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!


Categories: Savor Orlando