East End Market is planning to convert the large upstairs space that has hitherto been used as an event space into a place for aspiring restaurateurs. EEM’s developer, John Rife, described the concept as being for chefs who are ready to move beyond popups but who aren’t quite ready for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. I hope they’ll consider calling it Purgatory. No timeline has been announced.
- Congratulations to Orlando Brewing, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this week. OB was one of the area’s first microbrewers, and its only certified organic beer maker, and was well established before the floodgate of small breweries we’ve been seeing for the past several years. Orlando Brewing should be commemorating its 17th year in business. However, just a few months after it opened, in October 2004, the owners were notified that its original location would be taken through eminent domain by the Florida Department of Transportation. You’re driving over where the first brewing facility was if you use the South Street exit off Interstate-4. To show that founder John Cheek has a sense of humor, Orlando Brewing includes I-4 IPA in its portfolio of beers. Specials at the brewery this week.
- I got excited when I saw a press release titled P.F. Chang’s To Go. But unfortunately it wasn’t announcing the restaurant’s exit from the area. Instead, the pseudo Chinese-food slinger will open a takeout-only operation called P.F. Chang’s To Go in the Pixon apartments in Lake Nona. Sometime in the fall. The release said that the PFCTG concept is smaller than the full-sized restaurants but will offer “the same authentic menu items patrons expect,” which will either delight or horrify you. The P.F. in the restaurant’s name are the initials of Paul Fleming, who also founded the upscale steakhouse chain that bears his name. The Chang’s is a bastardization of co-founder Philip Chiang’s name.
- As long as we’re on the subject of Americanized Chinese restaurants, there’s this news item from the Washington Post regarding a California Panda Express. According to a lawsuit, a cashier at one PE was forced to strip to her underwear in front of coworkers as part of a self-improvement seminar. And then she was instructed to embrace a male coworker when he cried after being told to do the same. The seminar leader also allegedly berated the attendees, telling them that they amounted to nothing, which seems extra cruel.
Panda Express, it should be pointed out, does not actually serve panda.