Note: This story has been amended to add details on funeral arrangements.
Mauricio Colindres, one of the two owners of Orlando’s venerable Chatham’s Place restaurant, died Saturday. The cause was cancer, according to a coworker. Colindres was 71.
Colindres had been working at restaurant in Dr. Phillips for several years when owner Louis Chatham expressed a desire to sell the business. Chatham had started the restaurant with his brother Randolph in Windermere and moved it in the early ‘90s to is current location, on the ground floor of an office building on Dr. Phillips Boulevard just north of Sand Lake Road. It would be years before more restaurants started to move into the area — though none close to Chatham’s — to warrant the Restaurant Row designation.
But Louis Chatham grew disillusioned with the business after the sudden death of Randolph. When Chatham said he wanted to sell the restaurant, Colindres, Chatham’s sous chef, Tony Lopez, and Carol Conwell, a regular customer who wanted a job, got together and bought it in early 1997. Lopez took over as executive chef, Colindres was the maitre ‘d and manager, and Conwell served as hostess, taking over for Chatham’s mother, Bettye. Louis Chatham told me at the time that he had two other interested buyers, both with cash, but he wanted the people who had helped to build the restaurant’s reputation to have it.
The three kept the restaurant going and maintained its high standards. In a followup review later in 1997, I wrote that not only were the new owners keeping the quality level high but they just might have improved it.
Conwell died in late 2006, leaving Lopez and Colindres as the two remaining partners. Colindres told me at the time that it was their intention to keep the restaurant going in her honor.
Colindres learned that he had lung cancer in May this year, according to Liza Causey, a manager at the restaurant. He was undergoing chemotherapy, said Causey, the staff was looking forward to him coming to the restaurant on New Year’s Eve. They learned of his death Saturday shortly before the restaurant opened for dinner service. Lopez was not available for comment Monday.
Colindres is survived by his wife, Alicia, two sons and a daughter.
Services will be held Friday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m. at St. James Cathedral, 215 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. A reception will follow from 11 a.m. to noon.