Update: Soco is now officially open and serving the full menu in the dining room, on the patio and in the lounge.
The much anticipated Soco Restaurant moves into a soft-opening phase Wednesday at 5 p.m. as it opens its doors to the public for the first time. Soco is the first new project from Thornton Park Restaurant Group (TPRG), which also owns neighboring Cityfish. It occupies the former Hue restaurant space on the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue in Downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park district.
What exactly is a soft opening, you ask? It’s sort of like the run up to the opening of a big Broadway production. During a show’s preview phase, the audience expects to see — and often does — the full performance, just as it will run on opening night. However, they also know that during the evening there might be a missed lighting cue or a piece of scenery that doesn’t descend from the rafters. Costumes have been known to malfunction.
Chef/partner Greg Richie says he isn’t expecting any glitches and he’s anxious to see the restaurant in full operation after months of careful planning. Richie’s menu is his expression of Southern contemporary cuisine (that’s where the restaurant’s name comes from) with slightly more emphasis on the contemporary side. Examples include a cassoulet of duck confit with boiled peanuts standing in for the traditional beans; Soco-style chicken and dumplings, featuring lobster in the handmade dumplings; and crispy fried chicken served Korean style with a sweet and spicy sauce. Richie, a charter member of SunshinePlate, a coalition of local chefs and culinary industry professionals dedicated to food advocacy, relies heavily on locally sourced ingredients.
The full menu and bar service will be available during the soft opening. Richie says the official opening will be next week.
Soco is at 629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando (there’s parking available in the garage behind the restaurant). The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. this week. Call 407-849-1800 for reservations. The website is at socothorntonpark.com.
TPRG is a client of Scott Joseph Company’s consulting services.