If it weren’t already, Florida is becoming a real foodie state. More and more chefs are moving out from behind their aprons and becoming celebrities. Dollars, meanwhile, continue to flow into restaurants like house Merlot during a Wednesday wine-down night.
Just to drop a few names, Miami has Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s, Crumb on Parchment) and Norman Van Aken (Tuyo) plus a bunch of chefs who have turned into rock stars as a result of appearing on TV competitions. Even excluding the big hotels, Orlando has Emeril Lagasse, of course, along with Kathleen Blake (The Rusty Spoon), Brandon McGlamery (Luma on Park), and James and Julie Petrakis (Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder). Most recently in Tampa, the duo of Michael Mina and Don Pintabona have a new venture, Farmtable Kitchen.
And to sweeten things up, it was just announced that Cake Boss Buddy Valastro is opening a new bakery at The Florida Mall in Orlando this summer. It will be part of the mall’s new Dining Pavilion featuring 27 shops and restaurants.
No chef surprises here. In 2015, Florida’s restaurants are projected to post a record $36.4 billion in sales. At the same time, the nation’s restaurant industry is on course to set landmark numbers with more than $709 billion in sales this year, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Diners clearly are the big winners, but the state’s economy is feasting, too. For each $1 million spent, Florida restaurants generate an additional 24.4 jobs in the state. Already, restaurants account for 943,600 jobs statewide, about 12 percent of total employment. And more growth is on the menu. In 2025, restaurants in Florida are projected to employ 1,155,300 people — 22.4 percent job growth over the present tally.
Photo credit: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink