Hospitality Hive

Updates, opinions, and news for anyone working in Orlando's Hospitality community

One of Orlando’s (many) Hospitality Heroes

Some have theme parks named after themselves.  Others, hotels. Some refrain from using their personal moniker when naming their creations, at least until the time is right.  Robert Earl is one of them.

Orlando Hospitality Hero, Robert Earl, CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc.

Orlando Hospitality Hero, Robert Earl, CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc.

Known in Orlando (mostly) for being the British brains behind Planet Hollywood, many are surprised when they hear his empire includes Buca di Beppo (www.bucadibeppo.com) , Earl of Sandwich  (www.earlofsandwichusa.com) shops, and so much more.  Today we’ll cover part of the ‘and more’ because now Robert can add TV show to his resume.  And apparently, the time is right since he’s chosen to call it Robert Earl’s Be My Guest (http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/robert-earls-be-my-guest.html ).  Premiering this very month on the Cooking Chanel, Be My Guest follows Robert’s continual quest to take us on culinary excursions, but this time we’re leaving Orlando (although not in every episode) and doing some traveling.

http://realscreen.com/2014/08/11/planet-hollywood-ceo-to-host-cooking-channel-show/

The first in the series, Keep on Truckin’, premiered on September 8 and covered, well, as the name would hint, food trucks.  So instead of taking us to an exceptional restaurant experience, in this episode Robert showed how the food is coming to us.  And, the showcase city for this topic’s coverage was Los Angeles, one of the most mobile cities in the USA.  Future  editions will cover Robert’s Perfect Meal, partially filmed in Las Vegas, Cross Country Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (REMINDER TO SELF:  take notes on how he creates the ‘Fat Elvis Waffle’!), and Mangia Italiano, where savvy locals will not be surprised to find he makes a visit to long time Orlando Italian favorite, Enzo’s on the Lake (www.enzos.com).  For a complete listing with dates and times, consult the Cooking Channel link listed above.

Robert Earl as seen on his new show on The Cooking Channel

Robert Earl as seen on his new show on The Cooking Channel

So, you might be wondering where’s the Orlando connection with this post?  Glad you ask because, despite being a bonafide world class jet-setter, since the late 1980’s Robert Earl has been right here in OTown working his magic in and around so many projects directly connected to our hospitality industry it’s a wonder more people don’t even realize he’s one of us.  Admittedly, he was born elsewhere but gosh, where have we heard that before when speaking of Orlando residents?  And, if you’ve lived in Orlando for at least 15 years (which by many standards means you’re now calling yourself a native and this is your home) you’ll remember seeing the name Robert Earl pop up with lots of other projects, some memorable (Hard Rock Café, sold in 1998 with an estimated value at over $100 million), some not (“hello, King Henry’s Feast?”).  At one point, his long arm of hospitality reached all the way out to Las Vegas where he purchased, renovated, revived and then in 2010, sold the 2600 room Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino (formerly known as the Aladdin) to Caesar’s Entertainment.  Yeah, this man knows his way around a deal or two. (www.planethollywoodresort.com)

Circling back to the theme of Orlando’s hospitality heroes, I think it’s safe to award this title to Mr. Robert Earl even though, technically, he hails from England.  I believe anyone that provides hundreds of local service industry jobs, not to mention brings in $$$$$ by the ‘Planet’full (pun intended) to our area economy, should be called a Hospitality Hero in our community.

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And, Speaking of Lobby Bars. . .Heeerrreee’s Harry’s!

As mentioned in a previous post, I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and get particularly excited when the inbox contains an invite to a new opening.  For so many reasons, the August 19th opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill at the Rosen Centre Hotel ( www.rosencentrehotel.com ) certainly did not disappoint!  Before I give you my ‘High Five for Harry’s’ review, I’ll let you in on a secret. . .

When I first heard the name, I did a little happy dance in my mind while remembering a most fabulous experience I once had at THE Harry’s Bar ( http://harrysbarvenezia.com), you know the really famous one in Venice, as in Venice, Italy, right?

The ORIGINAL Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy

The ORIGINAL Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy

 

Being that the original was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Orson Wells, Ari Onassis and friends ‘back in the day’, I knew it was a must-see during my first Venetian visit a few years ago.  Except for the outrageous price – as compared to the actual size- of their namesake cocktail the Bellini (recipe found on Harry’s Bar Venezia website listed above),  it did not disappoint.

Trust me, it's one luscious peach adult beverage!

Trust me, it’s one luscious peach adult beverage!

HINT:  don’t ask, just order and enjoy.  In fact, get a couple, then you’ll soon forget all about that outrageous price for one because you naturally expect a bigger bill when you order multiples, and after a few of them who can figure out the Euros per drink anyway?  Arriving in front of it via the traditional Venetian gondola, one can’t go wrong with enjoying the entire experience of being in the original and sipping that peach delight down to the very last drop of it’s European goodness.  So I was a little worried that enjoying Harry’s Bar, Rosen Centre Orlando, was going to be a tad anti-climatic.

This is how you arrive at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy.  NOT the Harry's Bar in Orlando!

This is how you arrive at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. NOT the Harry’s Bar in Orlando!

But now I’m 99% positive (still 1% relying on the yummy and potent Mojito they gave me at the entrance) that this Harry’s Bar will do just fine when I can’t grab my passport and suitcase (along with a gondola full of money) in a jiff and rush back to Italy when I feel the need for a visit to ‘a’ Harry’s.  Yes, it’s that good.

So as promised, here’s my list of best reasons to suffer through the I-4 traffic and make your way to the Rosen Centre Hotel, specifically to enjoy the new bar:

Harry's Poolside Bar and Grill at Rosen Centre Hotel Orlando

Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill at Rosen Centre Hotel Orlando

5)  It’s poolside/ it’s inside, so your Northern friends can sit outside and enjoy the 135+- temp (100% humidity included at no additional charge) while you grab a comfy seat inside to stay cool as a cucumber.

4)  The menu is full of tropical and Caribbean awesomeness (www.rosencentrehotel/harrysbarmenu/ )  including yummy things at lunch like Chef’s special bar-b-que chips made with deep fried Russet potatoes and served with chili aioli ($8) and little Havana Sliders (3 @ $12) served on a sweet island bun with a side of Yucca fries, and if you go for dinner check out the giant Hurricane Platter ($19)  with enough goodness to get you through, well, you figure it out.  Plus it’s affordable fun, especially when there’s live entertainment.

Inside Harry's Bar at Rosen Centre - told you it was cool and refreshing, right?

Inside Harry’s Bar at Rosen Centre – told you it was cool and refreshing, right?

3)  As always, service at any facility with Mr. Rosen’s name on it is delivered by a smiling member of a well trained staff who appears to enjoy the job and be grateful that they work within the ‘Rosen empire’ given the exceptional benefits that come with those jobs. (If you don’t believe me, check that out yourself at  www.rosenhotels.com/careers/ )

2) Parking is FREE if you tell them Harry sent you!  Well, the free part is valid, but you don’t have to actually ‘know’ Harry to qualify.  To be clear, what you need to do is go to the guard shack at the self parking entrance and tell them you’re local but want to enjoy Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill, and then they will waive the magic guard wand and let you into the parking garage, so really it’s just like knowing Harry, right?

1) Harry’s = Harris Rosen.  High standards.  Exceptional service.  Convenient location.  Functional space. Excellent product.

Oh, and about that name.  It was really sweet to hear Mr. Rosen himself explain the details of how his great grandfather, Harris Rosenkofsky, had immigrated from the Ukraine back in the early 1900’s through Ellis island with whatever his suitcase would hold.  If you’ve lived in Orlando for any length of time you know the rest of this success story behind the Rosen name. (Feel free to do your own Google search on it, and also don’t forget to check out this little gem of his, http://hospitality.ucf.edu, along with all those hotels that bear his name.) But in a sign that the times they are a changing, during the opening we also met a couple of the Rosen siblings who have quietly been working their way into the empire that is Rosen.  (And by into we mean in, under, around, and through the entire system – aka the old fashioned way – just like their hard working family patriarch has always done). But honestly, no need for ‘Harry’ to worry about someone taking his name off this bar, at least anytime soon.  Now approaching his 75th birthday, Harris Rosen is very much still the Don of all that is Rosen.

Harris Rosen is joined by Staff and VIP's while cutting the ribbon at the Aug 19 Grand Opening of Harry's Poolside Bar and Grill, Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando.

Harris Rosen is joined by Staff and VIP’s while cutting the ribbon at the Aug 19 Grand Opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill, Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando.

So, what are you waiting for?  Invitations, along with 25% discounts have already been issued in recent editions of the Orlando Sentinel’s Friday calendar section, so bring one of those but leave your passport behind.  Unless you’re heading to ‘the other’ Harry’s Bar, where believe me, no discounts will be found!

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