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Plus, what's on your 2021 to-do list?
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🍩 Orlando’s biggest restaurant openings and closings this year

Plus, what's on your 2021 to-do list?

Before we head for the weekend and to our usual every-other-Friday takeout order of the dry rub wings and hush puppies (and fries 😎) from Mason Jar Provisions, we wanted to feature Orlando’s biggest restaurant news. 

Without further ado, here’s food news you can use.

Orlando’s biggest restaurant openings and closings this year

And speaking of Mason Jar Provisions, excuse us while we wipe our drool. 😋 | Wanna see your photo here? Tag @pulptown to be featured in our IG of the day. (📸: @masonjarprovisions)

This year was a tough one for local businesses, especially restaurants. About 100,000 restaurants nationwide, nearly one in six, closed long-term or permanently as a result of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Trying to keep a restaurant open this year wasn’t easy. Neither was trying to open one. 

Here are 10 of the biggest openings and saddest closings of this year.

Hello

🍽 Bao's Castle brought warm fluffy bao buns to SoDo paired with different specialty beers every week. 

☕️ If you haven’t been to Bynx, the new coffee shop/record store/bookstore in Thornton Park, run, don’t walk to check out its one-of-a-kind books and records. And get the hot cocoa!

🔥 Chicken Fire is opening its brick-and-mortar TODAY and when it does, it’ll be one of the hottest (literally) openings of 2020. 

😋 Mason Jar Provisions brought made-from-scratch Southern cuisine to Thornton Park. On the menu: Chow chow, cobbler, hot chicken, and pulled pork.

🍦 Matcha House Tea & Creamery is the Mills 50 new spot for hot drinks, cold drinks, soft serve, and sundaes. 

🌴 Neon Beach, the new Miami Beach-vibe restaurant concept from Tin and Taco owner Rob Bair, opened this fall in downtown Orlando. From the Florida Man sandwich to the Happy Camper bowl to the frozen boozy Dole Whip, you’ll feel like you’ve reached peak vacation status.

🍸 Inside a 19th-century historical building Downtown, The Robinson Coffee Room is serving up coffee, cocktails, and design goals.  

🍩 The Salty Donut is opening its first location here today (!!) in Audubon Park. Orlandoans have been teeming with anticipation since the popular South Florida doughnut chain announced it was coming to town.

🍷 Sixty Vines made us feel like we’re in wine country right here in Orlando with its open kitchen, charcuterie bar, and greenhouse patio.

🍴 The long-awaited Winter Park Biscuit Co. is serving up its famous vegan fried chicken sammie along with a delicious-sounding kale salad, Impossible burger, and a strip box from its new location in East End Market.

Farewell

☕️ Belicoso Cigars & Cafe ended operations at Mills 50, saying “We still pray for a chance to restructure or return to build the business we established with so much potential and positive reception earlier this year.” Good news: You can still snag Smoke and Donuts at A La Cart! 

🍔 Known for its burgers and late-night eats, Big Time Street Food Co. closed saying “We first want to thank the neighborhood of Thornton Park and everyone who has come through and snagged some of our late-night eats.” Mason Jar Provisions, who you read about 👆 up there, opened in its place.

🍣 After a decade, Ceviche closed its doors saying “Sadly, the impact of COVID-19 has forced us to make a difficult decision.” We still dream of its sangria.

🍚 Since 1996, Chan’s Chinese Cuisine has been a fixture along East Colonial Drive. The owners said they sold the property to an investor and they look forward to “having a new chapter of life and more time with our families.”

🍽 The “pandemic has made it impossible for us to sustain operations,” said Elize Restaurant, a well-reviewed offshoot of a restaurant with the same name in The Netherlands. 

🥗 After showcasing progressive American cuisine for 15 years, Luma on Park bid farewell to Winter Park. Luckily, we still have Prato. (And Luke’s too!) 

🍺 Market on Magnolia, the popular food hall in downtown Orlando, closed after three years (and ending a 12-year era in the space), with a statement from the business reading, “It’s with heavy hearts, and years of memories, that we have made the decision to close Market on Magnolia.” Catch Pete Downing (MoM owner) at Wally's now or Gatlin Hall Brewing coming soon.  

🍟 The Winter Park location of Marlow's Tavern closed its doors, while the restaurant’s other locations remain open, Tasty Chomps reported.

🍹 Offering a taste of Hawaii in Orlando, Roy's Restaurant closed after more than a decade. It “elevated Restaurant Row to a dining destination for locals as well as for tourists and conventioneers,” Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide reported.

🍝 Sette won’t reopen in Ivanhoe Park, but its team told Orlando Weekly “Sette still exists … just without a home for now.” In the meantime, you can still find owners running things at Se7en Bites

On the horizon for next year

Here are a few restaurants on our radar for 2021: 

🍦 Native Orlandoan Emily Duke wants to open a vegan ice cream truck, and she’s hoping her hometown city will help make it happen.

😋 Black Rooster Taqueria is opening a second location in Curry Ford West this spring.

🌮 F&D Cantina is opening a Mexican restaurant in the former Jax/City Fish location early next year in Thornton Park, Bungalower reports.

🍺 Gatlin Hall Brewing/food hall plans for a spring opening in Edgewood.

🎉 The Hall on the Yard is expected to open in Ivanhoe in February, and you can see some sneak peeks on their Facebook page

🌮 Hunger Street Tacos is opening a new location in Winter Garden inside the beloved Plant Street Market in the spring.

🥘 Kadence, the extremely popular six-person sushi and sake bar in Audubon Park, will open Kaya, a Filipino restaurant, by fall of next year in the old Dandelion Cafe space.

🥂 The Monroe, the fourth concept from local famous restaurateurs Jason and Sue Chin, is coming to Downtown Orlando in 2021 as “a diverse social gathering place with a main dining room, bar, lounge/study, semi-private dining area, expansive front porch, and backyard patio.” And some very cool artwork.

🍓 Purple Ocean Superfood Bar plans to open Jan. 2 in Waterford Lakes with a second store coming soon to the Mills 50 District, per Bungalower.

🍣 Get ready for Soseki, a modern omakase experience from classically trained chef Mike Collantes (of Taglish) in Winter Park. It’s expected to open in early 2021. 

Help us tell more Orlando stories

Into food news? Then help us make it possible by becoming a Pulptown+ member. And right now’s a great time to join because we’re offering half-off until Dec. 24 (enter discount code HALFOFF).

Pulptown+ membership comes with: Extra-special perks in your morning newsletter, including exclusive content (think: I Spy Orlando, carefully-curated weekend itineraries, and more); the good feeling of supporting community-centric storytelling, and discounted tickets to all of Pulptown’s events (when we can host again, hopefully someday soon). Join us here for just $4month.

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🎉 Last Weekend for Holidays in the Courtyard!

Join us in-person for outdoor cabarets in an enchanted festive atmosphere through this Saturday or enjoy the performances from your home!

Join Us Tonight

Things to do

Today

🎁 Grab a blanket (and a mask) and watch the holiday classic "Elf" on the big screen at Lake Eola (Lake Eola Park)

🎟 Watch Orlando Ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker" at the Dr. Phillips Center through Sunday (Downtown)

🎄 Join in a jam-packed musical evening of Christmas celebration that's sure to bring comfort, joy, and all the holiday shenanigans through Saturday (College Park)

🛥 Hang loose for the Annual Lake Conway Boat Parade (Conway)

🎶 Get in the holiday spirit with a night of cabaret through Wednesday (Loch Haven Park)

Tomorrow

🛍 Put on your Krampus best and shop 'til you drop this big local makers holiday market (Winter Park)

🎭 It's the last night to see Opera Orlando's performance of "Die Fledermaus: The Revenge of the Bat" (Downtown)

🎄 Celebrate and explore College Park at its holiday event: Season of Sparkle (College Park)

Sunday

🛍 Round 2 of this local makers holiday market! Bonus points for dressing in your Krampus best (Ivanhoe)

✨ Tune in for a night of a million lights and some extra holiday magic (Online)

🍿 Grab a blanket and head to the Frontyard Festival for a night of movie-watching and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (Downtown)

Monday

🍷 Take a load off with $4 Malbec and a charcuterie plate at The Falcon Bar weekly (Thornton Park)

Wednesday

🍻 Grab your ugly sweater and celebrate Christmas Eve Eve at Castle Church Brewing (Conway)

One more thing … 

Whew, it’s been quite a year. We never could have expected what 2020 would have in store when we made last year’s to-do list

But now it’s out with the old, in with the must-do. We’re letting go of 2020 and gearing up for some new Orlando adventures in 2021. But our to-do list needs some work. And that’s where you come in. 

So tell us: What’s something you’ve done in the city that’s been so fun, you’d challenge every local to try it next year? In other words: What should be on your neighbors’ 2021 Orlando to-do list? 

Whether it’s a place to eat, a museum to visit, live music you can’t miss, something in the city proper, or a short drive away, we want to hear it. And we’ll share your answers later this month. Bonus points for pandemic-friendly activities.

Enjoy the weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday. 

 – ✌️ Katie at Pulptown

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