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Melt Shop plans to open six local spots, Aki Restaurant closes and more in Orlando foodie news



OPENINGS: Grilled cheese and patty melt chain Melt Shop will open six Orlando-area locations in "destination hotspots" ... Tamale & Co. has opened a new tamaleria inside the Hourglass Social House in the Hourglass District ... The Today Cafe, based on NBC's Today Show, opens to the public May 16 at Universal Studios. I suppose a Fox & Friends Cafe will open in the Villages soon ... Felipe Rodriguez Tequila House has opened in the old Truck Stop Restaurant space on East Washington Street in Thornton Park ... Ohio-based chain Burntwood Tavern has opened in the old Stonewood Tavern space on Dr. Phillips Boulevard near Conroy Road ... Look for Orange City Cajun/Creole joint Fire on the Bayou to open a location in the old Mikki V's space at 426 Aloma Ave. in Oviedo this July ... Oc & Lau Cali, a Vietnamese restaurant specializing in snail dishes and hotpot, has opened on West Colonial Drive near Pine Hills Road ... Look for Melbourne Seafood Station to open at 3900 Town Center Blvd. this summer in Hunter's Creek. It'll be the fourth location for the seafood boil restaurant.

CLOSINGS: Southern Spice Indian Cuisine in the Bayhill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road has closed. King Cajun Crawfish, with locations on Mills Avenue, East Colonial Drive and North Cocoa Boulevard in Cocoa, will move into the space ... Aki Restaurant, a Japanese mainstay on Universal Boulevard, will shutter May 18 after 20 years in business.

NEWS: We reported back in March that Church Street was rumored to get a food hall. Last week, plans were filed with the city for a "Church Street Food Hall concept." Yes, it's inching ever closer to reality ... F&D Woodfired Kitchen in the Hourglass District will start serving lunch May 14 ... Eola General has rolled out its breakfast menu. They'll serve everything from waffles to steak-and-egg sammies every day until 10:30 a.m. ... Name changes in College Park: Kingfish Grill now goes by the moniker Princeton Grill. The reason? People kept thinking it was a seafood restaurant. And Blended Cafe Bar up the road on Edgewater Drive now goes by Blended Bistro & Boba after a change in ownership.

EVENTS: Stamp Out Hunger, the 27th annual food drive organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, is May 11. Folks can participate in the one-day drive by leaving nonperishable items outside their doors. Once again, Farm Share will be the official Florida partner. Visit for more info ... Bird of Paradise (formerly Florida & Co.) celebrates its grand opening May 19 from 2-5 p.m. inside East End Market. Look for $5 specials on what owner Emily Rankin describes as "healthy, vibrant, flavorful and transformative" food. There will be a reggae band as well ... The Second Harvest Food Bank Chef's Night event May 23 will feature dishes from five different chefs, including Highball & Harvest's Scott Pizzo and recent James Beard Award nominee Rabii Saber of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. Tickets are $125 ... Chef Jack Arnold from Idaho's Snake River Farms cooks a backyard barbecue-style buffet dinner May 24 at PB&G at the Four Seasons Resort. Needless to say, plenty of Snake River's American wagyu will be smoked, grilled and kebab-ed. Cost is $55.

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