Bram Fowler, the former owner of Journeys restaurant in Longwood, has taken over the kitchen at Park Plaza Gardens. Fowler had been in talks with the owners of PPG in November to do some consulting at a future date. When the executive chef at the time quit — on Christmas Eve — Fowler was asked to step in and handle things for the New Year’s Eve bookings. They’ve now come to an agreement that names him executive chef and gives him some control over the menu.
That menu, which Fowler hopes to have in place within the next couple of weeks, will have some things that the owners of the restaurant see as furniture pieces necessary to the identity of Park Plaza Gardens, one of the oldest restaurants on Park Avenue.
But he will also feature some items that made his Journeys restaurant popular, including Prawns Peri Peri. Journeys restaurant was originally in the Shoppes of Longwood on State Road 434 at Interstate-4 and then move to Alaqua Country Club in 2010. It closed shortly afterward and Fowler and his wife, Geraldine, began Journeys Catering.
When he was asked why he wanted to get into the restaurant business, Fowler answered, “I’m not sure I want to get back into the restaurant business.”
It’s no secret that he will have quite a task on his hand. At one time a top choice as a special occasion restaurant among locals, Park Plaza Gardens has faltered in recent years under a number of chefs and consultants. (Disclosure: Scott Joseph Company was retained by a third party to prepare an audit of the PPG guest experience in 2014.)
Known for its dining room with an outdoor patio decor inside, Park Plaza Gardens at one time was one of the few dining options on Park Avenue — and in fact one of the few fine dining options in Central Florida. It is now one of many restaurant options along the Avenue but still seems mired in the past.
Quite a task indeed.
This was first reported in a tweet from Faiyaz Kara.