Friday, May 22, 2015

McAlister's Deli to make an Orlando comeback

McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast casual chain, announced today it has signed three development agreements with new and existing franchisees to open restaurants in Southern Georgia and North, Central and Southwest Florida.

Existing franchisee DMAC 81, LLC, based in Summerville, S.C., plan to open several new restaurants between southern Georgia and North Florida. The franchise group currently operates several McAlister’s locations across South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. McAlister’s also signed development agreements with two new franchise groups to open restaurants on the west coast of Florida between Naples and Sarasota, as well as in Orlando.

“With these three groups, we have the opportunity to bring McAlister’s to untouched markets in Florida like Sarasota, Naples and Orlando, as well as expanding into southern Georgia,” said Jeff Sturgis, McAlister’s Vice President of Franchise Development. “We couldn’t be happier to continue our development in the south with three stellar franchisee groups.”

New franchisees Christina Berry, Mark Graff and Jeff Paulsen bring to McAlister’s their extensive experience in multi-unit restaurant management with Steak n Shake, as well as a background in commercial and residential property development. Their franchise group, Good Eats Florida, is targeting development in the Orlando market in communities such as Clermont, Celebration, Winter Garden, MetroWest, Dr. Phillips, Lake Nona and Kissimmee.

“We are very excited to bring the McAlister’s award-winning, fast casual dining concept to Orlando,” said Berry, co-owner of Good Eats. “We are confident the diverse menu, comfortable dining environment and genuine hospitality that is so strongly associated with the McAlister’s brand will resonate with Orlando’s fast-growing population.”

About McAlister’s

Founded in 1989, McAlister’s Deli is a fast casual restaurant chain known for its sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea. In addition to dine-in and take-out service, McAlister’s also offers catering with a selection of sandwich trays, box lunches, desserts, a hot spud bar and more. With numerous industry accolades, the McAlister’s brand has 337 restaurants in 24 states. The company is headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicken Salad Chick coming to Ormond Beach

I've been waiting for this brand to stake a claim in Central Florida. Looks like they've chosen Volusia County to enter the market, according to a press release:

Chicken Salad Chick, one of Nation’s Restaurant News 2015 Breakout Brands, announced today the location of their newest franchise in Ormond Beach. The restaurant, set to open this fall, will be located at 75 North Nova Road, Ormond Beach, FL 32174.

Owners Buck and Brooklyn Harris are thrilled to open their first of three locations in the Volusia County, Lake Mary and Altamonte Springs areas. “Ormond Beach is a beautiful community that supports local business and where businesses support the community,” said Buck. “It is a great place to live and definitely the perfect town for Chicken Salad Chick.”

Born In Alabama -- The Chicken Salad Chick concept was established in Auburn, AL in 2008 in the kitchen of founder, Stacy Brown. Stacy quickly learned that selling a homemade recipe from her kitchen is against the law, and after being shut down by the health department, she decided to solicit the business expertise of her future husband and fellow founder, Kevin Brown. Together, they opened a small takeout restaurant which quickly grew to enormous demand and additional locations. Chicken Salad Chick has sold 131 franchises to be developed across the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North & South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, and has plans to expand nationally in the coming years.

“We’re so excited for new growth in Florida and another location by the beach,” said founder Kevin Brown. “The Harris family brings a wealth of restaurant knowledge and are a perfect fit for our growing brand.”

About Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick puts an edgy twist on a southern classic, offering guests a “custom-fit” chicken salad experience, with 15 original flavors to choose from, as well as gourmet soups, flavorful side salads and freshly-baked desserts. They were recently named as the top chicken salad in the country to try in the March/April issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, as well as one of QSR’s “Ones to Watch”. There are currently 33 Chicken Salad Chick locations open throughout the Southeast. Corporate offices are located at 724 North Dean Road in Auburn, Alabama. See for additional information.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Can't wait for the PDQ opening? Here's a preview with a construction walkthrough

PDQ, a Tampa-based chain specializing in hand-battered chicken tenders, made-to-order sandwiches, daily cut fries, hand-spun milkshakes and fresh salads is opening its first Central Florida location June 7th, in Sanford.

I've heard really good things about PDQ and am looking forward to the opening. I got a special preview with a construction walk-through this week and now I can't wait to try the food! 

The dining room is very spacious with two stories of windows flooding the space with light. Modern fixtures, wood flooring and brick accent walls lend a contemporary, yet traditional look to the dining room. There's a great view from the front counter of the open, state-of-the-art kitchen. It seems there's nothing to hide at PDQ.

I particularly liked the way PDQ handles the drive through experience. You don't order at a board via speaker; an actual human being comes to the window to take your order. You know this will increase order accuracy and avoid a lot of confusion. And as your drive around to the pickup window, take a look through the large windows into the open kitchen where you'll see employees washing and cutting fresh potatoes for the fries. That's a nice touch.

June 7th, please hurry up and get here. I've got chicken tender fever. Very special thanks to Manager Kim Tay for her hospitality.

1610 Rinehart Road
Sanford, FL 32771


PDQ Sanford on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wanna be wowed by wings? Check out Bubba style Buffalo wings at Ker's WingHouse

I'm a wing guy. Bone-in, boneless, breaded, naked, mild, hot, thermonuclear, you name a Buffalo wing, I've tried it. At least that's what I thought until a recent visit to Ker's WingHouse introduced my taste buds to Bubba style wings. Wow.

Bubba style wings are double-breaded and fried (drums only) then doused in Dallas sauce (WingHouse parlance for honey bbq). The result is a plate full of the biggest wings I've ever seen or tasted -- and they tasted mighty good.

It's hard to "wow" a hardened food blogger, but "wow!"

The Bubba wings aren't all that's good on the Ker's WingHouse menu. I was offered the opportunity to try several styles of wings and all of the sauces. Yes, all of the sauces: Mild, Medium, Hot, House on Fire, Exxxtreme, Blackened, Asian, Garlic Parmesan, Mango Habanero, Sweet Thai Chili, Blackened Rub, and, of course, Dallas. That's an impressive lineup of wing sauces. Besides the Dallas sauce, I really liked the Garlic Parmesan and the Sweet Thai Chili.

There's more to the WingHouse menu than wings. I enjoyed the Sampler Platter of Jalapeno Poppers, Onion Rings and Mozzarella Sticks and the Grouper Bites were perfectly fried, tender and flavorful. Definitely start with the Grouper Bites.

I've frequented WingHouse many times over the years, and like any "breastaurant," service can be inattentive if you show no interest in purchasing a calendar, or whatever else the servers are pitching, but on this visit, service was spot on, and our server was knowledgeable regarding the menu and very upbeat.

Founded by Cowboys and Broncos alumni, Crawford Ker, the first location opened in Largo in 1994. There are six Orlando-area Ker's WingHouse restaurants.

Note: I dined compliments of Ker's WingHouse.

Win 5 Free wings!

If you're here to win 5 Free Wings from Ker's WingHouse, here's what you gotta do: In a comment below, just tell me your favorite wing sauce. That's it. I'll pick one winner at random. Come back after May 22, 2015 to see if you're a winner. (Okay, so you have to buy 5 to get 5 free, but what a deal!)

Ker's Winghouse Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

First look at the new Mellow Mushroom in Sanford

Sanford is booming (at least in the area near the Seminole Town Center Mall). It seems there's a new restaurant opening in the area every month or so. Recent openings include Chipotle, Red Robin, Long Horn Steak House, Carrabba's and Cheddar's. There's a PDQ and Buffalo Wild Wings under construction, and just recently a new location for Mellow Mushroom sprung up in an abandoned Big Boy restaurant space.

I stopped in this week at lunchtime to check out the new Mellow Mushroom. Yep, looks like a Mellow Mushroom. Yep, tastes like a Mellow Mushroom. And that's all good.

The bruchetta is always a nice starter at the 'Shroom - I love a balsamic glazed anything. For pizza, I went for the kalamata olive, artichoke and shitake mushroom topped Philosopher's Pie. Throw on mozzarella, feta and Provolone cheese and this is truly a pizza pie to ponder. Hmmm, it's really good.

Service is what it is when you've got a restaurant full of college-aged servers, but I always seem to enjoy my visits to Mellow Mushroom. Welcome to Sanford.

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon