Update 9:29 a.m. Tuesday): Just spoke with Remy Van Driel, vice president for the Matteo’s organization, who confirmed that the International Drive location is closed. Van Driel said that that location just wasn’t the ideal one for the Matteo’s concept. Matteo’s is a family-style Italian restaurant that serves large platters of food. It’s more suitable to families or couples who can take the leftovers home. It’s less attractive to tourists or conventioneers. Van Driel said the company came to an agreement with the landlord to end the lease. The building, at 5350 International Drive, was previously the location of Nelore, the Brazilian steakhouse that vacated the space to move to Winter Park.
Van Driel said Matteo’s would likely return to Orlando but would seek a neighborhood location. “We all have homes here,” he said, referring to company officials and managers. “When we go out to eat we go to Restaurant Row, or Windermere, or downtown Orlando.” Van Driel said that many of the Orlando workers would relocate to the company’s New York or other Florida restaurants. Matteo’s also recently closed the Jupiter store.
When Matteo’s first announced that it would enter the Orlando market, in October of 2010, its plans also called for a steakhouse in the former Salt Island property farther down International Drive. It was to have been Rothman’s, an upscale steakhouse with Long Island and midtown Manhattan locations. Those plans were immediately put on hold shortly after Matteo’s opened.
Although this item is confirmed, rumors still circulate. Now I’m hearing that the building won’t be vacant long. A Chinese restaurant may step up and give it a go.
Earlier: Although it has not yet been confirmed, rumors are circulating that Matteo’s, the popular upstate New York Italian restaurant that opened in Orlando in late 2010, has closed. The phone goes to the restaurant’s recording, but attempts to make a reservation at the website are met with a message that the system is “temporarily down.” A person who answered the phone at the company’s Boca Raton restaurants said that Orlando is still open but that the Jupiter store had closed. Will follow up tomorrow, but something doesn’t sound right here.