Tuesday is Dan Kirby’s final day with Roy’s Restaurant in Orlando. Kirby has been with the organization, which was founded by celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi in Hawaii, for 24 years, the past 15 with the Sand Lake Road location. After so much time, what would prompt the change?
“The love of my wife,” Kirby told me by phone while driving to the restaurant for what would be his last shift. His wife is a project manager with a communications company based in New Jersey and has been working remotely and commuting occasionally from Central Florida. Kirby said that in order for his wife’s career to advance, it would be necessary for her to live in New Jersey, so they are packing up and moving.
Mac Lynch, who has been serving as chef/partner at the Restaurant Row Roy’s, has also left the company. Mark Baize, who was serving as sous chef, has been promoted to the position. Baize has been with Roy’s for 11 years, said Kirby, returning recently after a stint with another company.
Lynch accepted a position with Fresh Kitchen and for now will oversee its commissary operations, according to Kirby.
The Orlando Roy’s opened 15 years ago with Greg Richie, now of Soco and Baoery, as its first chef/partner. Kirby joined the team six or seven months after opening, said Richie. “Hard to believe it was 15 years ago I opened that place,” Richie said in a text message. “It was a stone slab, with nothing in the entire area except Publix, and Timpano’s had just opened.”
With the personnel changes, one can’t help wonder if the franchise’s new ownership has anything to do with it. Roy’s had been owned by Bloomin Brands, parent company of Outback Steakhouse. All of the 29 mainland Roy’s were purchased recently by United Ohana LLC, a Dallas company founded by Sunil Dharod, owner of 69 Applebee’s restaurants.
No replacement for Kirby as general manager has been announced.