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Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton closing

Written By Scott Joseph On May 9, 2019

Normans Entrance

Norman’s, the fine dining restaurant from Florida’s celebrity chef Norman Van Aken at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort, will close this summer after 16 years. The final day of service will be Sept. 1

In a statement, Alissa Perez, director of public relations for Grande Lakes, said, “Norman’s was and will remain an incredible chapter in the story of our business and we are proud of what the team has accomplished since our relationship began in 2003.”

The decision to close the restaurant was made by the hotel’s corporate division at Marriott International. Company has a goal to revamp restaurants throughout its properties with an emphasis on company-owned concepts. Norman’s leased the space at the Ritz.

Perez said that a decision about what to do with the space has not yet been made, but it almost certainly will be another restaurant. (There had been talk of turning it into meeting space.)

When it opened, Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton was a second location of sorts for Van Aken’s popular restaurant in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. It was there the he won the Best Chef: South award from the James Beard Foundation. Van Aken was also one of a few South Florida chefs striving to create a new cuisine that would be uniquely Florida’s. Their style came to be known as Floribbean or New World Cuisine.

In 2016, Van Aken partnered in a Mount Dora restaurant called 1921 by Norman Van Aken. Though it was critically acclaimed, Van Aken severed ties with the restaurant in November 2018. The restaurant is now called 1921 Mount Dora.

Yusuf Yldiz has been manager and sommelier at Norman’s for 12 years. He said Thursday that there had been talk that this change was coming — I had first heard rumblings about it a year ago — but that no one had mentioned a date for the closing until now.

Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton is one of the last of the area’s fine dining restaurants, offering “white-glove service” in an atmosphere worthy of a Ritz.

Van Aken, who has entities in South Florida, was not immediately available for comment, but a statement on the restaurant’s behalf said the partners were looking for another Central Florida space to relocate.

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