SCOTT JOSEPH’S ORLANDO RESTAURANT GUIDE EXCLUSIVE — When Beluga closed its doors in Winter Park Village last weekend everyone wondered about a planned second location on Restaurant Row. As far as everyone knew, construction was continuing at the Dellagio complex off Sand Lake Road near Dr. Phillips Boulevard.
But owner Bobby Moore told me today that Beluga is gone forever. But not the plans for a new restaurant. Instead, the new restaurant will be a separate business entity and will be called Big Fin City Kitchen. Moore said it will feature a combination sushi and raw bar and have a 300-gallon lobster tank.
“We’re going to do more mid-range,” said Moore. Mondays will feature $14 whole lobsters from that tank, and oysters on the half shell for 75 cents each.
David Spinogatti, most recently with Palm steakhouse, is Moore’s partner in the new venture. Shawn Loving, who has cooked for other Moore projects, including Race Rock Cafe, will be the chef. Loving is currently teaching at a culinary school in Michigan and earning his master chef degree.
Moore says the decision to close the Winter Park Beluga was not an easy one. “I feel terrible about having to shut things down,” he told me, and he blames the economy. “The whole dining business has changed,” he said, “and people who don’t change with it are going to be left behind.”
There were nights, Moore said, that Beluga was full without any available seats. “But at the end of the night when we rang the register out we’d say ‘Oh my God'” because the sales didn’t match the crowds.
“Obviously business was just brutal down there.”
Moore said he is aiming for a July opening for Big Fin City Kitchen.