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crazy4wdw
05-02-2007, 11:10 AM
Epcot eateries set for major makeovers

Epcot eateries set for major makeovers

Orlando Business Journal - April 27, 2007 by Bob Mervine Staff Writer

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Dining at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park is about to get a makeover.

Most of the popular internationally themed restaurants in Epcot's World Showcase area have begun to show their age, say some restaurant operators.

Four major eateries will undergo overhauls in the next year -- those in the theme park's Italy, Japan, China and Mexico pavilions.

Three Disney-operated restaurants in Epcot are getting minor touchups -- in the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany pavilions.

In addition, the planned makeover of the restaurant in the France pavilion is still in design, and won't start for a year or two.

Big bucks
Eight major eateries in the park's pavilions opened 25 years ago, and contracts signed then between Disney -- at a time when the entertainment giant was eager to create culinary credibility -- are coming up for renewal.

While Disney won't reveal any dollar amounts for these deals -- and the restaurant operators are guarding the competitive details of their contracts closely -- one participant says it's big bucks.

Contract re-negotiations this time around focused on longer terms and larger capital commitments than previously, says Ricky Debler, president of San Angel Inn LLC, which runs the Mexico pavilion restaurants in Epcot.

"Disney needs improvements and capital investments in Epcot," says Debler. "This is a way to revitalize and update the pavilions. All together, it's a huge chunk of money."

Goodbye, Alfredo
The biggest change is in the Italy pavilion.

L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante will close Aug. 31, and a new operator, the Patina Restaurant Group, will reopen the space the next day, operating a generic Italian restaurant with a different menu until the summer of 2008, when it will close for remodeling. It will open again late next year with a new name, new look and new menu.

Alfredo's management would not comment on Disney's decision. The company, Alfredo, the Original of Rome (Fla.) Inc., is run by Russell Bellanca, son of the man who owned the North American rights to the use of the name of the original Roman restaurant. Disney says it's the most popular at Epcot, grossing more than $20 million last year.

The decision to change the Italian restaurant operator came about as a business opportunity to modernize the eatery, says Memo Emec, Disney's regional manager of operating participants.

Those close to Alfredo's say the company's management was surprised by the decision. It's possible the company will use the value of the Alfredo's brand and relocate off Disney property, perhaps in a non-Disney hotel in Lake Buena Vista.

Hello, sushi
Meanwhile, in Epcot's Japan pavilion, Tempura Kiku and the Matsunoma Lounge have been demolished to make way for a new Japanese eatery with an emphasis on sushi, says Memo.

As yet unnamed, the redesign will take advantage of the views of the World Showcase area of Epcot from the second floor seating area when it reopens, currently slated for Aug. 25.

The China pavilion in Epcot has added new tea kiosk, The Joy of Tea, which opened in March and features an array of popular cold and hot teas, including the whimsical bubble tea -- fruit flavors with small tapioca pearls drunk through an oversized straw.

The quick-serve Lotus Blossom Cafe has gotten an updated look without losing traditional menu items.

The main restaurant, Nine Dragons, will close in early 2008 for a revamp. The kitchen, says Memo, will be redesigned to allow guests to interact with the chefs at five different stations, ordering and watching the food being prepared.

Tequila toast
During a makeover of the ride in Epcot's Mexico pavilion, Disney also added 25more seats to the San Angel Inn restaurant.

At the end of this summer, Debler will open a 50- to 60-seat tequila bar in a former retail shop, emphasizing the historical and cultural aspects of the classic Mexican beverage.

Major changes are planned for the pavilion's outdoor eatery, Cantina de San Angel, including a kitchen expansion, realigning seating areas to improve the view of the World Showcase lagoon and a new menu -- all expected to be done by next summer.

Moreover, three other original World Showcase restaurants will see varying degrees of change: Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion, the Biergarten in the Germany pavilion and the Rose & Crown Pub & Restaurant in the United Kingdom pavilion are scheduled for minor rehabilitation.

The two other major sponsored restaurants, in the French and Moroccan pavilions, won't see any changes until at least 2008. Insiders say both pavilions sponsors are on track to continue their presence, and at least one, Chefs de France, will see some major updating if negotiations proceed as planned.

mrp4352
05-02-2007, 12:13 PM
I'd love to see them take the sushi area and offer 'first-timers' classes or menu. I've wanted to try sushi, but haven't been brave enough to just walk right in and sit down to order. It sounds like they're on that track with the tequila bar - so maybe we'll see the premise move across the lagoon to Japan!

Thanks for the info!! Exciting times!

Another Voice
05-02-2007, 01:17 PM
The real question is whether Epcot will remain true to itself and present an authenitic "this is just like it is in Tokyo" sushi place - or are we going to be slung fish sticks it in some trendy, pandering, Americanized, mass market, brand name faux fish joint designed to squeeze the most Disney Dining Points from Joe Tourist?

rocketriter
05-02-2007, 01:22 PM
I'm baffled by the decision to close Alfredo's, the largest-grossing restaurant at Epcot. Hey, let's punish success!

mrsR123
05-02-2007, 01:32 PM
I'm baffled by the decision to close Alfredo's, the largest-grossing restaurant at Epcot. Hey, let's punish success!

The accountineers know perfectly well that a mediocre Italian restaurant with a generic pasta menu will do well enough and cost them way, way less money to run. They don't need authenticity or exceptional quality anymore because most folks will pay for whatever is given them.


I'm getting depressed again.

Jason71
05-02-2007, 01:36 PM
OK, it's just a "temporary" place (tho a full year is longer than most new restaurants last), they are using existing kitchen and dining spaces and they presumably already have a set menu from somewhere, but how do you open a full-service restaurant in less than 24 hours? I would think it would take that long to move in all the food and cookware, forget about trying to train staff and servers.

Is the name the only thing Alfredo's is taking? Or will "Generic Italian Restaurant" be serving microwaved TV dinners from a window?

Uncleromulus
05-03-2007, 05:16 AM
Interesting.
My question is--where did they put those 25 extra seats at San Angel?? The better bet would have been to REMOVE 25 seats. The tables are impossibly close as it is.

DisneyBaby!
05-03-2007, 02:11 PM
When they re-open "Generic Italian" the next day, It wll probably be using the same people, equipment and quite possibly food the was there the day before but you would be amazed at what restaurants can pull off. I would not want to eat there the last night, I can only imagine the things they will 86 through the night, or the fixtures that will dissappear. But I say it is about time the dining goes through these changes. The changes to food technology in the last 25 years is amazing, but it takes alot of time and $$$$ to do it right. And I know of nobody that wants to take on capital improvements in a restaurant on their own dime, they always want somebody else to pony up the dough, thats why you see so many brand names and logos on menus, nobody wants to pay to print the new menu, so get Hunt's and Coke to help out. So yeah, i'm also not surprised they waited 25 years. Reminds me of the old joke from working in a restaurant, "how do you make a small fortune in the restaurant business? Start with a large one."

mitros
05-03-2007, 10:06 PM
The accountineers know perfectly well that a mediocre Italian restaurant with a generic pasta menu will do well enough and cost them way, way less money to run. They don't need authenticity or exceptional quality anymore because most folks will pay for whatever is given them.


I'm getting depressed again.

Join the crowd............:guilty: :sad1:

rodkenrich
05-04-2007, 07:57 AM
Thanks for sharing.

northie
05-07-2007, 07:35 PM
I'm baffled by the decision to close Alfredo's, the largest-grossing restaurant at Epcot. Hey, let's punish success!

According to the guide on the Hidden Treasures of the World Showcase Tour we took in April, it was Alfredo's decision. She said they are the first restaurant at Epcot to decide not to renew their contract, and that Disney was baffled by their decision.

Then again, she also told us you can make ADR's up to 90 days ahead of your arrival date when we all know that's not true, and she said that Disney had no plans to replace Alfredo's with another restaurant when I had already seen reported several places they were in negotiations for another Italian restaurant before I went n my trip, so maybe you can take that with a grain of salt. :confused3

Sara

Chuck S
05-07-2007, 09:30 PM
Looking at the Patina Group's website, they have some really nice upscale restaurants in CA and Vegas. Thank goodness, while I've been disapponted in Alfredo's on recent visits, I was afraid they'd be replaced with another Landry's branded restaurant. I think Patina Group will do a good job.

DizGeek
05-08-2007, 08:33 PM
I have ADR's for Alfredos on Aug 31---their last day! I did this thinking it would be cool to be there then...now I'm thinking differently.

Thoughts?

northie
05-08-2007, 08:55 PM
I have ADR's for Alfredos on Aug 31---their last day! I did this thinking it would be cool to be there then...now I'm thinking differently.

Thoughts?

I would go if I were you. I regret I never got there last time we were there a couple weeks ago.

Sara

allamar
05-10-2007, 08:07 AM
The real question is whether Epcot will remain true to itself and present an authenitic "this is just like it is in Tokyo" sushi place - or are we going to be slung fish sticks it in some trendy, pandering, Americanized, mass market, brand name faux fish joint designed to squeeze the most Disney Dining Points from Joe Tourist?

This is a little misleading - the current Japanese restaurant in Epcot is hardly authentic. The "Japanese steakhouse" concept is a complete American fabrication. Sounds like this change at least has the potential of being in the right direction.

Brian_WDW74
05-10-2007, 05:23 PM
I have ADR's for Alfredos on Aug 31---their last day! I did this thinking it would be cool to be there then...now I'm thinking differently.

Thoughts?

I'll be there Aug. 30. I would have went on Aug. 31 but I'll be at the P&PP that evening. I think you'll be fine.

*Brian*

Margie J
05-11-2007, 03:36 PM
According to the guide on the Hidden Treasures of the World Showcase Tour we took in April, it was Alfredo's decision. She said they are the first restaurant at Epcot to decide not to renew their contract, and that Disney was baffled by their decision.

Then again, she also told us you can make ADR's up to 90 days ahead of your arrival date when we all know that's not true, and she said that Disney had no plans to replace Alfredo's with another restaurant when I had already seen reported several places they were in negotiations for another Italian restaurant before I went n my trip, so maybe you can take that with a grain of salt. :confused3

Sara


I wonder if ADR will open their own restaurant in the Orlando area? That would be great for ADR fans and they won't have to be ruled by Disney.

Planogirl
05-22-2007, 12:29 AM
Odd, Alfredo's management says that they are baffled by Disney's decision and Disney says that they are baffled by Alfredo's decision. So who decided what?

I don't like the trend personally. Once they destroyed Akershus, I kind of expected Operation Princess takeover but it hasn't materialized after all, at least not yet.