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Cafe Italiano, One of the Area’s Oldest Restaurants, is Closed; Turkish Eatery Moving In

Written By Scott Joseph On October 15, 2012

Cafe Italiano, one of the city’s oldest restaurants, has closed. The little family owned and operated eatery has occupied the same space at 565 N. Semoran Blvd. since 1965, operated by members of the Lauro family. But it has struggled over the past several years. James Lauro, son of the original owners who had been operating it recently, could not be reached immediately.

When I last visited the restaurant, in May of last year, it was in decline. The interior looked worn, and our server was a regular customer who had been called in to help out when all the regular servers failed to show up for work.

It was 1965 when Salvatore and Antoinette Lauro opened their little restaurant on Lake Barton Road. A few years later the name of the road would be changed to Semoran Boulevard. 

It hasn’t been an easy run, Lauro told me some years ago. He wasn’t even born when the family business was started, but he says he remembers Semoran Boulevard in the early ‘80s when it was still lined with pine trees. A fire in ’74 changed the appearance of the restaurant, and not necessarily for the better. Lauro said the fire codes restricted the way his parents wanted to rebuild. The restaurant has since been remodeled and the menu has been changed, but the essential quality is still there: “Good food, big portions,” said Lauro back then, adding “good customer service.”

A new restaurant, Capadoccia, will open in the space following renovations. It will serve Turkish cuisine. Coincidentally, it is directly across the street from the Turkish Cultural Center. I’m told that the new owners had a restaurant in the Northeastern United States before relocating to Florida.

More to come.{jcomments on}

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