Stopped by the Grand Bohemian the other night and was surprised to find its restaurant, the Boheme, stripped clean: artwork, fixtures, tables, chairs, booths, all gone. No, not art thieves; the restaurant is being completely renovated.
What’s more, I was told by Brent Slusher, food and beverage director for the hotel, that it is scheduled to reopen on Friday for all three meals, as usual. They’re adamant about being ready for the weekend because of Valentine’s Day. (Because February 14 falls on a Monday, most area restaurants are girding themselves for a full weekend of romance-seeking diners.) That’s going to involve a flurry of construction and installation over the next few days, but Slusher said everything is on schedule. (Well, they had originally wanted to open Thursday, but they were missing some furniture, now on site.)
My guess was that the restaurant, one of the last bastions of fine dining in downtown Orlando, was looking to bring the tone of the room down a bit. On the contrary, said Slusher, management feels there is a need in downtown for something more high-end than the several upscale-casual restaurants. At the same time, he said they will strive to be seen as more than a place only for special occasions. The menu will remain mostly the same, but that was rejiggered a couple of years ago to reflect the economic times and make it more approachable.
While the original Boheme had a classy air, I was never thrilled with the overall look and feel of the room. One design flaw was the row of high-back booths that ran down the center of the restaurant. They were fine for tete-a-tetes but lousy for seeing and being seen. Slusher said the new furniture will allow for a more open view. A new addition will be a 12-seat community table that can be used for a large party or for individual diners who don’t want to sit alone at a booth. The community table concept is not new, but it’s enjoying a resurgence around the country, and it’s a smart thing for a hotel restaurant to include because so many of the guests are alone.
While the Boheme space is under renovation, the hotel has set up a makeshift dining room in the bar area on the other side of the rotunda.
More details as they become available.