Joe and Elaine Bates have relocated their restaurant, Bates New England Seafood & Steakhouse, near West Oaks Mall.
OCOEE For local restaurant Bates New England Seafood & Steakhouse, it’s out with the old and in with the new — at least as far as the location and name.
The family-owned restaurant shuttered its old location on Winter Garden-Vineland Road in November and is now renovating the space Chevy’s Fresh Mex used to occupy near West Oaks Mall.
With only 1,200 square feet of space in the previous location, owners Joe and Elaine Bates could seat only 24 guests. Ample parking space was another issue.
So when the opportunity arose to lease the old Chevy’s building, Joe Bates decided it was time for a change. He handed over his old lease to what will now be Pinotti’s Pizza, a Brazilian pizzeria, and signed the lease for the new location in December.
“We outgrew that (the previous space) really quick,” he said. “We weren’t able to accommodate big parties. We wanted something that would be more accessible. It’s right on 50; there’s a lot that’s going to happen in this area, and we wanted to be part of it. We just felt that this would be a great location, because we know there’s a lot of new construction that’s happening around here.”
The amount of space they will have is astounding compared to before — 6,500 square feet, more than five times the size of the previous location. And instead of only being able to seat 24, they’ll have room for 263, with outdoor seating for up to 36.
The Bates family has owned restaurants before when they lived in New Hampshire. After moving to Florida, Joe Bates entered the limousine business and stayed there for 14 years before his granddaughter asked if they would open another restaurant. They decided to stay true to their roots and offer authentic, New England-style seafood.
The restaurant’s name was tweaked to reflect some additions to the new menu. Previously called Bates New England Seafood & Subs, the “subs” has been replaced with “steakhouse.” Subs will still be on the menu, but now a variety of steaks will be, too.
“In the other place, it was mostly seafood and subs,” Joe Bates said. “Here we changed it to steakhouse. We’re still going to have all of the items we had on the old menu — a lot of people were concerned about missing our steak-and-cheese sub — and we’ll have certified Angus beef steaks.”
New additions to the menu include grouper, mahi mahi, pan-seared tuna, crab legs, fried oysters, and steaks including ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon, porterhouse, sirloin and prime rib. The restaurant also will have a full liquor bar, fresh salad and soup bar and a live lobster tank for guests to pick their own dinner.
The outside of the restaurant has been painted in two shades of gray and a navy blue, with red front doors as a finishing touch — Patriots colors. Inside, two garage doors will open up on nice days to connect the bar area with the patio. Stained wood, cedar, electric fireplaces and a gray-and-red palette complete the New England coastline ambiance.
“People will come in and it will have that New England feel,” Joe Bates said. “The only thing we’ll be missing is the ocean.”
The family currently is working on the interior buildout and going through the process of obtaining all necessary permitting and approval, but the owners hope to reopen by March, with a grand opening in April. The Bateses also plan to hire between 30 and 40 staff members.
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].