The folly that was Fulton’s Crab House, housed in the massive faux sternwheeler that has long been a fixture (literally) of Disney Marketplace/Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island/Disney Springs, is closed. Following renovations of the structure, Levy Restaurants, which has operated Fulton’s since 1996, will open Paddlefish this fall. Seafood, of course, will be the focus.
As you can see from the rendering, above, which was posted on Levy’s Facebook page Monday, the redo will include a rooftop (top deck?) outdoor bar and lounge. It also appears the side of the structure will be opened up to take better advantage of the waterfront views.
Before it was Fulton’s Crab House the structure was known as the Empress Lily, named for Walt Disney’s wife (the Lily part, anyway). It held a few bars and restaurants, including the Empress Room, which was for many years one of the area’s most noteworthy fine dining venues.
When it became Fulton’s it also became the area’s best seafood restaurant. The Orlando area, curiously, was not known for having good seafood. But that changed with Fulton’s. The opening chef was proud of posting the shipping bills for the day’s fish specials by the front door.
Then that changed, too. The quality of the seafood at Fulton’s lagged, and it never did get back up to its previous level.
Let’s hope that changes with Paddlefish. The Levy folks showed that they can do quality food with the reinvention of Portobello a few years ago. I’m keeping good thoughts about Paddlefish.
Of course, in the meantime, the 200-plus employees of Fulton’s have been laid off. Planet Hollywood, also at Disney Springs, is also undergoing a major renovation.