EXCLUSIVE – As I reported in an SJO exclusive earlier this week, Manny Garcia will be part of a team that will rebrand the Sand Lake Road/Dellagio Center Urban Flats into a new concept to be called City Fire. Garcia is well-known in Central Florida for his past restaurants, which include Pebbles, Harvey’s Bistro and Manuel’s on the 28th. Also part of the new restaurant will be Garcia’s daughter, Gina Buell, who was responsible for the training in the previous restaurants, and her husband, Michael, a longtime member of the operations team. (The Buells are the owners and operators of the restaurant.) Benj Ray, who served as a manager at the old restaurants, is also on board.
Now comes word that Tony Pace, the former executive chef for Garcia’s many operations, including the restaurants named above, who effectively retired last year, has signed on to be part of City Fire. That brings a large part of the group that created some of the area’s favorite restaurants back together. We most likely will never see the return of Pebbles or Harvey’s Bistro, but this may be the next best thing. (I’ve already learned that Pebble’s popular Nutty Cheesy Salad is planned for the City Fire menu.)
The relatively new space in the Dellagio Center will undergo some renovations, but Garcia says he hopes to have the new restaurant open by the first of the year.