As I write this, I realize I’m writing about another turning point in my professional life. It is more than a new chapter. It is more like a new book. I have been in this business most of my life. There were ‘books’ before we ever opened the first NORMAN’S. I am not referring to the cookbooks we have written. ‘Louie’s Backyard’ in Key West and “a Mano” on Miami Beach qualify as such. When the original NORMAN’S opened in Coral Gables in 1995 we entered a new phase of life. While I have done other restaurant projects none of them have been as personal nor momentous as the one named for me. So, as it should be, I suppose. But not now nor ever have I viewed them as solely ‘my’ restaurants. Each of them is a major team, a cast of players that changed over the years with some lasting decades and longer. We often refer to the original when we are speaking among ourselves as ‘21’. That was the street number of where we were in Coral Gables. The next ‘book’ that came to be was NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton in August of 2003. That one was both different and similar as the original. I don’t like to repeat myself entirely and so I welcomed the new home and the way we expressed hospitality at our restaurant there. In addition to nightly service, we did amazing events with some of the best chefs and winemakers in the world. We, like the original, were deeply honored to win acclaim including reaching the mark as a semi-finalist as ‘The Best Restaurant in America” by the vaunted James Beard Foundation. (We reached the finalist level in the original). The commitment to excellence at that level is what drives me still. And now, with our partners, we are about to begin the newest book. In a few months we will open “NORMAN’S” which will be located in the Dellagio Plaza just off Sand Lake Road in Orlando. We were at the Ritz for 16 years. How long will this one be? I don’t know. It is being written now…. “The Preface” if you will.
Soon we will welcome you all to our new restaurant. This one will be different in significant ways! For one this one will have an array of ways to experience it. We are continuing with the love of ‘white tablecloth’ fine dining in our interior areas. We believe that while many have turned away from that time-honored aesthetic many will always revel in it. Our interior bar will be spacious with a sense of the timeless bars of the world. At the Ritz-Carlton we had one private dining room. In our new location we have two. The opportunity for curated private parties and corporate functions are one of the things that have always been a hallmark of what we do. Given the larger footprint of this space we are happy to nearly double that dimension. The area that will clearly showcase the new ‘character’ in this book will be ‘The Patio’. We can’t wait for you to experience it! It is the hip, energetic side of what we love to offer. Whoever said dining well had to be a ‘serious’ missed one of the fundamental elements our earliest restaurants always loved to provide. The sound of people having a great time is delicious to me! Our exterior will be protected from the elements. The design is a marvel! The best of both worlds. We will have a very comfortable exterior lounge area where you can gather with your friends for more of a spontaneous way to enjoy an evening. The menu at ‘The Patio’ will be one that provides the ability to do as one can do at a tapas bar type place. Think grazing, sampling, exploring, sharing and the like.
I will be back here before too long to give you more updates. In the meantime, I will be posting the progress photography and some videos on my Instagram. Our website for the restaurant is coming along too. So, get ready. Soon it will be ‘Book Three’!