The owners of the iconic Sizzler restaurant have publicly put their stake in the ground by asking the state to permit the 90-year-old restaurant to become a monument.
“The folks on the outside will say it’s a successful venture. My only concern is I think there are a lot of people who are working hard to make this a success,” said Sam Miller, executive director of the Sizzler Restoration Project, or SRSP.
The project is looking to open a “restaurant of the future” on the vacant Block 54 development in Orlando.
“I think the restaurant has to be first in line,” said Abagail Penman, founder of Pursuit of the Sizzler — the group that has launched a social media campaign against Sizzler pending the construction of the hotel.
The restaurant’s restoration and construction of the Echelon project, a 180-room luxury hotel planned for Land Rover Discovery Landing overlooking Lake Eufaula, have the energy of a fireworks show, said Wells Fargo spokesperson Taylor Haynes. “It’s been a huge part of our Orlando story. It’s a building legacy,” Haynes said.
Construction on the Echelon began in 2016, and began in April. Executives with Wells Fargo were not in Orlando for the ribbon cutting ceremony. But Haynes said Wells Fargo is “still in active discussions” about the future of Sizzler.
“We are working with Sizzler to find a path forward for the future, and we wish them the best,” Haynes said.
Local officials said they are open to the proposal.
“I’m certainly open to it. I think our resources and the type of capital that we can take is something we will consider,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Broward County Commissioner Victor Ortolani echoed Dyer’s sentiments.
“I think we all have the best interest in preserving and restoring what’s left of Sizzler,” Ortolani said.
Regulatory filings show some city staff were hesitant about the redevelopment of the property last year. Still, staff was well within its right to object because of the property’s location along the central business district, Dyer said.Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Victor Ortolani stand at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Echelon luxury hotel in Orlando. Construction began this summer, with construction expected to be completed in 2019. (Nancy Benac / Orlando Sentinel) Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Victor Ortolani stand at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Echelon luxury hotel in Orlando. Construction began this summer, with construction expected to be completed in 2019. (Nancy Benac / Orlando Sentinel) SEE MORE VIDEOS Jahi Bynum, who spearheaded the SRSP project, said a preservation nonprofit group at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., has had some success with its plans to preserve downtown landmark “Ritter’s Chicken Shack.”
Bynum, who has been working with operators of the Hotel Sizzler to turn their project into a restaurant, called Sizzler a “legacy” and a sacred space.
“The place is so important to the legacy of the franchise, of the reputation of the Sizzler brand, the restaurant and of what the hospitality industry is,” Bynum said.
Plans for a Sizzler restoration and construction of a hotel are “a merging of nostalgia and restoration,” she said.“It’s a rebirth,” Bynum said. “This will be a reconstitution of the old.” Kelly Kothe Kelly Kothe
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