Wow, what a year in the Central Florida restaurant community. We said HELLO and GOODBYES to a lot of restaurants in our fine city in 2012. To many to track to be honest, so I will hit the highlights.

Let’s start with the BBQ community. Well 4 Rivers kept expanding and added locations around Central Florida.  Red Eye BBQ Grill (former food truck) opened up in Ocoee in the former location held by Matthews Steaks which closed. Speaking of closings, the landmark bbq joint O’ Boys closed, Blackwater Bar-b-q closed, Bubbaques at University/Dean also closed. Which good BBQ restaurant is coming to a theatre near us in 2013 that will compete with 4 Rivers and Bubbalou’s?

Did we have enough Burger Restaurants with BurgerFi, Burger 21, Boardwalk Fresh  Burgers & Fries, Five Guys, etc? I guess not. So we welcomed Red Robin in Winter Garden and the former original 4 Rivers became B&B Junction. Frankly speaking, I can’t keep up with the Burger Factories in our area.  I am going to weekly therapy for this and will improve here, I promise.

Restaurant Row said Hello to Rocco’s Tacos a very fun high energy taco joint.  Raga an Indian restaurant  just opened, Miller’s Field a new Sports bar has opened,  and Peperoncino a very authentic Italian restaurant opened up.  The Row also said Goodbye to City Fire and Five Guys in Dr Phillips. Speaking of Dr Phillips it is my understanding Stefano’s Grill will be opening soon in the Dr Phillips Market Place (same owners of Stefano’s in Windermere which closed).

Lots of Hellos on IDRIVE in 2012. The tourist district welcomed Big Italy, Marlows Tavern, Senor Frog’s, The Pub, Fogo de Chao just to name a few.

I also noticed in 2012 some nice expansions from current restaurant owners. The owners of the popular and well-known  Ravenous Pig opened up Cask & Larder in Winter Park. Teak Neighborhood Grill in Metro West known for their outstanding  burgers  opened up Rus Teak Restaurant & Wine Bar in Ocoee which seems to be a hit with the locals and it is much more upscale than its sister location in Metro West.

Some well known steak houses decided it was time for a new name. Del Frisco’s has or will become Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, and Houston’s has become Hillstone. Sounds like a plan to me.

In the Italian restaurant community Orlando lost a landmark Cafe Italiano one of Orlando’s oldest Italian restaurants on 436 near the airport closed in 2012. Maitland said hello to Francesco’s Ristorante Pizzeria, been there several times and have enjoyed everything I have ordered to date.

Mccormick & Schmick’s said bye bye at Millenia Mall and now ready to erect in the same location is Capital Grille.  This means we will now have 2 Capital Grille locations.

Again this is just a high level look at 2012 restaurant news in Central Florida. I look forward to what 2013 brings us in our restaurant community.  Happy New Year! See you in 2013 Central Florida Diners!