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Prickly Pear, Nick’s Italian Kitchen Closed; Next Up: Lotus and Honey

Written By Scott Joseph On June 3, 2013

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Prickly Pear and Nick’s Italian Kitchen are closed, and in their respective spaces look for two new restaurants, Lotus and Honey.

As reported last month, Prickly Pear closed its doors to the general dining public in May but remained under the FMI Restaurant Group banner as a private event space and caterer. Now FMI has officially closed both restaurants, located in the Sanctuary condominium building on Eola Drive, and has sold its interests in the space to a group of investors. Eddie Nickell, FMI’s co-owner, said that he and his partner, Nicholas Olivieri, will relocate Prickly Pear and Nick’s Italian Kitchen to the International Drive area. They operate a Funky Monkey restaurant at Pointe Orlando.

Leading the development of the new restaurants will be Jesse Newton, president of Aura Florida Lounges, whose Aura restaurant and lounge has been in development directly across the street for nearly three years. Erica Fallon and Julie Morris are some of Newton’s partners. The businesses are being backed by a group of investors with backgrounds in the hotel and hospitality industry.

Newton does not expect the two new restaurants to face the same challenges that Aura has met. (“The inside of the building was way more difficult than we could have imagined,” he told me. “We’ve had a real struggle.”) The new restaurants will occupy spaces that have been restaurants previously, so it’s mainly a matter of remodeling. Prior to Prickly Pear, Graze was the restaurant in the corner space, and Nick’s was originally Fifi’s Patisserie and later Sanctuary Diner.

Newton says that Lotus will be a farm-to-table fusion concept with locally sourced products and an American based menu with influences from Asian, Italian and other cuisines. It will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The price point for Lotus will be $8 to $16, said Newton.

Honey will have an aphrodisiac theme and feature foods reputed to stimulate sexual desire. Those could be honey (hence the name), cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes or, really just about anything else if presented in the right way. The dinner-only restaurant will feature Champagne by the glass and will have a chef-inspired menu.

Inspiring the menu will be Luis Negron, who most recently was chef at Royal Pacific hotel at Universal Orlando. Negron will oversee all the restaurants.

Aura still does not have a projected opening, but Newton expects Lotus and Honey to open this summer. Also on line for an imminent opening is DTA, which stands for Don’t Tell Anyone, a speakeasy themed lounge around the corner from Aura in the same condo complex.

The new restaurants are expected to employ 120 people. Complimentary valet parking will be offered throughout the day.


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