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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2019 1 month ago

RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar in Ocoee moving

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A new space for RusTeak Ocoee will be built about a mile away from the restaurant.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar in Ocoee is getting a new place to call home.

The restaurant will be moving to a brand-new, custom-built space that will be open by the end of next year. The restaurant’s new location will be at 11077 Roberson Road, which is about a mile south from RusTeak’s current location in Ocoee. 

RusTeak is a modern American, “polished-casual” restaurant that offers a diverse food, wine and cocktail menu.

“(RusTeak) is a version of an American gastropub,” co-owner Brian Buttner said. “(We offer) a little bit of everything. … It’s a play on comfort foods.”

Buttner co-owns RusTeak with Jonathan Canonaco. They both attended the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York, and opened their first restaurant, Teak Neighborhood Grill, in MetroWest in 2010. In 2012, they opened their second restaurant, RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar, in Ocoee as a 2,500-square-foot restaurant. In 2014, the RusTeak in Ocoee expanded to 5,000 square feet, and a second RusTeak location opened in College Park. That same year, they sold Teak in MetroWest. In addition to the two RusTeak restaurants, Buttner and Canonaco own The Stubborn Mule and the Menagerie Eatery & Bar in downtown Orlando.

“We both have a culinary background and a business background,” Buttner said. “Jonathan grew up in the kitchen because his father owns a restaurant. He was always in the kitchen, (but) when he graduated from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), he decided to take the front-of-the-house position. (For) me, where I was always (working) front of the house, I took back of the house. We wanted to see each others’ (work environments) where we weren’t as strong. We wanted to kind of jump in and tackle (those weaknesses).”

Buttner added that the current location of RusTeak in Ocoee is the only restaurant space where they don’t own the real estate. The restaurant owners are leasing the space of the current location of RusTeak in Ocoee, but that will change once the restaurant moves to the new location. The owners purchased property for the restaurant’s new location July of last year.

“(Reason) number one (for moving) is the real estate,” Buttner said. “We always have owned the real estate (for our restaurants). The only reason we didn’t own the real estate for the first time for the Ocoee location (of RusTeak) was because we were poor and we were starting Teak … and we used up all our dollars to open up Teak. … We just didn’t have the money, so we decided to lease.”

A house currently sits on the property, but it will be demolished when construction of the new restaurant space begins. The new restaurant space will be a two-story, 15,000-square-foot building. Constructing the new space from the ground up allows the owners to customize how they want it to look. It also allows them the opportunity to customize the space to further enhance the customer’s experience. Plans for the new space include a rooftop and garage bar and even an outdoor pond area for guests to relax as they wait to be seated, Buttner said.

“With this new project, the goal is to have (different) areas (within the restaurant),” Buttner said. “It’s going to have a rooftop bar (where guests) can go upstairs and have a pre-cocktail if they want to have a pre-cocktail or go upstairs to have dessert. … The goal is to attract more of the catering side of this business because we obviously can’t cater (now) because we have no space. It’s going to have outlets to have, like, a wedding reception. It will have those kinds of (catering) elements. … I want it to be a destination venue so people go to it knowing that they’re going to stay for a little bit.”

Ocoee commissioners voted during the June 18 City Commission meeting to annex the property into the city, rezone it to C-3 General Commercial and assigned it with a future land-use designation of Commercial to allow for the construction of the new restaurant space for RusTeak.

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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