Millenia 106 has closed. North Quarter Tavern is closing. And Rossi’s will exit the list of Central Florida’s oldest restaurants at the end of the month.
Millenia 106, which was operated by Bruno Fonseca, who was also its chef, had opened in February. When I reviewed it in March, I noted that the location, in an outparcel in front of the Mall at Millenia, had been home to a string of short-lived restaurants, but I held out hope that Fonseca’s creative — and reasonably priced — cuisine could make it a destination. It wasn’t to be.
Among the previous tenants were Pasha, a Mediterranean restaurant, and Figueira, a “Brazilian Grille & Pizza Bar” where the food was sold by weight. That restaurant’s owner, who lives out of the country, was also the owner of Millenia 106.
The restaurant, which closed Monday, Dec. 18, was named for its suite number in the Shoppes at Millenia, a cluster of businesses at the corner of Conroy Road and Millenia Boulevard.
“It was a tough spot, to say the least,” said Fonseca, who previously had worked at Todd English’s bluezoo and Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton. The restaurant employed approximately 12 staff members, he said.
North Quarter Tavern is the second restaurant in the area north of downtown Orlando to announce a closing. Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar closed earlier in the month when the two chef/owners, Bernard Carmouche and Larry Sinibaldi, agreed to split their partnership.
North Quarter, which opened in summer of 2015, was the newest restaurant to open with Craig Ustler in the partnership letterhead. Ustler had famously been involved in the development of HUE, Cityfish, and Citrus restaurant, among others.
In a statement Monday, Ashley Lowry Brown, marketing director for the Ustler Group of Companies and North Quarter Tavern, said that Ustler has entered into a new partnership with Church Street Entertainment, a group that operates several downtown venues known more as bars than as restaurants. They include Embers, Latitudes, Chillers and 180 Skytop Lounge.
The statement said that Ustler is transitioning away from direct ownership of operations to focus on his company’s development projects, including Creative Village in downtown Orlando and Florida Hospital Health Village. He recently had relinquished control of Citrus to Jason and Sue Chin (Osprey Tavern, Seito Sushi) who transformed it into Reyes Mezcalaria earlier this year.
Soco in downtown’s Thornton Park is also another of Ustler’s involvements. Chef/partner Greg Richie said Tuesday that he does not believe Ustler has any plans or desires to sell his stock in the popular restaurant.
Church Street Entertainment will close North Quarter Tavern and its adjoining bar room, which was used primarily for overflow or private party space, on Dec. 31, according to workers. They will install two as yet unannounced concepts there.
In 2005, I set out to identify the area’s oldest, longest operating restaurants. Rossi’s, a pizzeria on Orange Blossom Trail, made the list. It was opened in 1965 by Henry and Nina Rossi in a structure that was originally a Jim Walters home. At the time of the article, the Rossi’s son, Ron, had taken it over. He’ll lock the door for good at the end of the month.
Of the others on the list, only Linda’s La Cantina (1947) and Lee & Rick’s Oyster Bar (1950). They are the oldest and second oldest respectively.