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Newsy Nuggets: Caribbean Moonshine, aloha to Honolulu, Summer House this winter, and a call for holiday dining

Written By Scott Joseph On November 24, 2023

Caribbean Moonshine Exterior

While many of us spent the pandemic isolation period swilling alcohol, Steve Nichols and Mike Weber used the time to figure a way to make and sell it. The result is Caribbean Moonshine, a craft rum distillery, tasting room and retail outlet that just opened at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet Mall. It’s a 3,000-square-foot facility that pays homage, if that’s the appropriate word, to Florida’s past as a bootlegger’s paradise and rum-runner’s retreat. The Orlando facility isn’t a full-service distillery. The rum base is made in Puerto Rico, then shipped to New Port Richey where it is blended with spring water and cane sugar, and then to the Premium Outlet location for flavoring and bottling. Caribbean Moonshine also sells fruit-flavored rum cakes.

South Steel SJO March AD copy

Speaking of rum, Honolulu Harry’s, the College Park restaurant that made a mean mai tai but lagged in the food department, has closed. It had been open two years. The 808, another Hawaiian restaurant and bar, in Thornton Park, also closed recently. I guess that means that aside from poke, the raw-fish bowls that are still popular, diners in the 28th state aren’t all that interested in the food of the 50th.

Resto Urban Kitchen, an Argentinian restaurant, has grand-opened in the Marketplace at Avalon Park. It features empanadas, steaks and a whole menu section devoted to Milanesa variations, because that’s a popular thing in Argentina.

Summer House on the Lake, a “Californian-inspired” restaurant from Chicago’s Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants group, is gearing up for a winter opening at Disney Springs. It will be the company’s fourth Summer House; others are in Chicago, Bethesda, Maryland, and Las Vegas. Some of the restaurant’s signatures are The Cookie Bar, which is what it sounds like, and a Rosé Cart, also self descriptive.

Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants has always had a warm place in my heart. When I lived in Illinois and followed the Chicago dining scene in the 1980s, I read a scathing review from a Chicago restaurant critic on what was then the company’s newest concept, The Great Grisby’s Flying Food Show. (The owners of the nascent restaurant group loved puns; another concept was Jonathan Livingston Seafood.) The review ended with a line that suggested the owners change the name to The Not So Great Gritsby’s, which they did, at least briefly, and included a giant banner than hung from the high rafters with the entire review printed on it. It helps to have a sense of humor in the restaurant business, doesn’t it, restaurateurs?

And speaking of, and to, restaurateurs, it’s time to send you holiday dining information to be included in our Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve listings. We’ll include listings for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve that feature special dinners or menus on those days; we’ll list any restaurant that is open on Christmas Day.

Please include ALL pertinent information, including the restaurant’s name and address (you’d be surprised how many submissions leave that out), hours of operation on the appropriate holiday day, and any details you’d like to include about your menu. Be sure to give prices and links to menus and reservations. Send submissions here.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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