We have official confirmation of what’s been common knowledge in the culinary community for about six weeks now: Sette, the Italian restaurant from Va Propst and Trina Gregory-Propst, will not reopen, at least not in that space. That space, on North Orange Avenue at Virginia Drive across from Lake Ivanhoe, is still known by most locals as the former Brian’s Diner even though more than a few businesses have occupied it since. But all have been short-lived. There could be a number of reasons, but it’s been my observation over the years that when customers go to a restaurant, they like to have a place to park their car while they’re inside. The couple’s Se7en Bites bakery will reopen, though hasn’t yet.
The City of Orlando is allowing restaurants that want to reopen under the Phase 1 rules to use outdoor rights of way (alt: right of ways) – sidewalks, breezeways (alt: breezes-way), parking lots – to set up tables for diners, providing specified distancing is observed. In Phase 1, restaurants may use only 25 percent of their dining room space, which any restaurateur will tell you is not a sustainable business model. But outdoors? The sky, or at least the adjacent parking lot, is the limit.
Winter Park’s Park Avenue is going one better, though I don’t think better is the right word. Friday through Sunday, Mother’s Day, the avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic and restaurants and retailers will be allowed to use the road to do their business. Um, that might not be the right word either. Anyway, guess where I won’t be this weekend.
Don’t think I’ll be at Hillstone, either. Management has forbidden staff members from wearing masks, apparently not wanting to distress the customers. The subject of masks is a hotly debated one, both pro and con. But I’m sure anyone who has sat in the front row of a theater during a play can tell you that when someone speaks, a tremendous amount of spew comes out of the mouth.
Disney Springs will begin reopening May 20, but so far no word on which businesses will go first. Most of the restaurants there are spacious enough to accommodate distanced dining.
Cholo Dogs will be setting up a permanent cart inside Market on Magnolia beginning next month.