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Dave & Buster’s to Occupy Former Caruso’s Palace, Race Rock

Written By Scott Joseph On June 25, 2010

Orlando Business Journal is reporting today that Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s will move into the long-deserted structure on International Drive once known as Caruso’s Palace. B&D is a bar and restaurant with an eclectic menu, and an entertainment space geared more toward adults than kids. There are no details on when the new tenants will move in, but given that the place has been vacant since 2007 it probably won’t be real soon — there’s bound to be a lot of updating.

Now painted with a checkered flag roof, the wedding cake-like structure began, in February 1990, as Caruso’s Palace, a project of Robert Earl’s when he was still president of Mecca Leisure USA (soon after the company became Rank Leisure). Mecca was also the owner of Hard Rock Cafe and at the same time the company was trying to get its first HRC open at Universal Florida. Caruso’s was a huge and ornate structure filled with statues of cherubs and Italianate paintings. There was a small balconey that looked out over the dining area under the rotunda. This was where singers were meant to perform. Earl told me at the time that he had hoped his father, a well-known performer in Great Britain might sing occasionally. My favorite description of the interior was supplied by a colleague who dined with me: It looks like a Fellini movie exploded in here.

After Caruso’s closed, Bobby Moore purchased the building and opened Race Rock, a themed restaurant dedicated to all things fast and motorized. Race Rock eventually limped into that permanent pit stop in the sky. Moore is now the owner of the new Big Fin Seafood Kitchen on Restaurant Row.

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