EXCLUSIVE — The space previously occupied by HUE Restaurant, which closed at the end of May, will reopen as a restaurant that its ownership group says will further establish and enhance downtown Orlando and Thornton Park as a notable dining district. Greg Richie, who previously was the chef at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Roy’s on Sand Lake Road, will be the restaurant’s executive chef and is also a partner in the group venture.
The restaurant, which the group plans to open in late winter or early spring, has yet to be named, and Richie could not comment about the potential menu. Richie is highly regarded among local chefs and foodies. He has cooked at the Beard House in New York and is frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award. I credit him with bringing focus to Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, which faltered when it first opened and until Richie took the position of chef de cuisine. It will be nice to see him take the lead on what he says will be a “chef focused” concept.
The space, which occupies the ground floor corner of the building at Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue in Thornton Park, will be completely renovated and remodeled. Ray Schaefer, founding partner at Gravity Architecture & Design, is leading the architect and design team, along with providing consulting services for other aspects of the restaurant’s development. Schaefer has consulted on projects for national groups such as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago, Chef Morimoto expansions, and Chef Tim Cushman of O Ya in Boston and New York City. Some of his local projects include the fun Splitsville at Downtown Disney and Italio in Winter Park. Initial blueprints have not been released, but word is that the redo calls for relocating the bar, which was the central focus of HUE Restaurant, and turning that space into a dining room with a window into the kitchen behind a chef’s table.
More details are expected soon.
Update: The name of the partnership that will own the restaurant is the Thornton Park Restaurant Group, or TPRG.