The restaurant space on the ground floor of the Bank of America building in downtown Orlando, the space that is more fondly remembered as the home of Harvey’s Bistro but whose most recent tenant was Terrace 390, has been acquired by a partnership that includes chefs James Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig and Clayton Miller, who opened Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, and the owner of The Courtesy cocktail bar, Gene Zimmerman.
Miller told me that the team has signed the lease to take over the restaurant but that the name and the concept had not yet been finalized. He said they’ve been working on the deal for about six months, but he doesn’t expect the restaurant to open until 2016. “Best case scenario is eight months,” he said, “worst case, a year.”
Miller will serve as the managing operating partner for the enterprise and will be the restaurant’s executive chef. Petrakis, Miller said, is an investing partner but will be very much involved in the operation. “We’re going to try to use a lot of synergy between his existing businesses and ours,” Miller said of Petrakis. Besides the Ravenous Pig, Petrakis and his wife, Julie, also own Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons Provisions in Winter Park.
Zimmerman will oversee the restaurant’s beverage program. His Courtesy bar has a good reputation as a destination for people who enjoy well crafted cocktails.
Miller most recently had been with 50 Eggs, Inc., in Miami, the group that operates the popular Yardbird. Prior to that he had been the executive chef at Wit & Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Mina, at the Four Seasons in Baltimore. Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsma credited Miller with improving the quality of the restaurant, which he said faltered under the previous chef. “The situation turned around with the arrival of Clayton Miller, who previously made Trummer’s on Main in Clifton worth the drive. Visit Wit & Wisdom these days — and you should — and you’ll taste what I mean; Miller is a chef who makes something special out of the routine,” Sietsma wrote in a 2012 review. Miller told Sietsma at the time he left Wit & Wisdom that he was going to Florida because his wife’s family lived in Orlando.
The restaurant, at 390 N. Orange Ave., has had many restaurant tenants of varying degrees of quality. One of them, Ettore’s, still ranks as one of the worst I’ve reviewed locally. Harvey’s Bistro, which was a concept from Manny Garcia, Enjoyed many years of popularity until it closed in February of 2009, along with Garcia’s fine dining restaurant on the building’s top floor, Manuel’s on the 28th, following a dispute regarding rent with the management company at the time. The Manual’s space is now a real estate office security broker dealer.
The team of Miller, Petrakis and Zimmerman is an impressive, and the restaurant’s will undoubtedly be among the most anticipated of 2016.