Metro Diner, the fast-growing franchise that bills its fare as "comfort food with flair," is preparing to break ground in Casselberry for its third Greater Orlando location while seeking more sites locally.
Construction should start in mid-June on the new restaurant, which will be built on the site of the former Patsio's Diner in the Casselberry Commons shopping center at 1419 S.R. 436. The older building will be demolished to make room for the new outparcel.
"Casselberry is a great bedroom community," marketing director Crafton Bryant told GrowthSpotter. "With its proximity to downtown Orlando and access to major roadways, the city is doing a great job to set its sights on growth now and in the future."
The Casselberry location is one of about 15 Metro Diners that the company will open in Central Florida, including coastal areas, in the next three to five years, Bryant said. The company already has diners in Altamonte Springs and Orlando near UCF.
"The Greater Orlando market and Central Florida as a whole are very important in our Florida expansion plans," Bryant said. "We are planning to open locations in Melbourne, Daytona, Delray, Oviedo and are currently looking at sites in Ocoee and Orange City. Our goal is to open three to four locations per year in the Greater Orlando market."
The 3,820-square-foot diner in Casselberry will be built on an 0.18-acre outparcel of the shopping center's 1.29 acres. It will include 486 square feet of covered outdoor dining space, according to plans filed with the city.
General contractor on the project is TWT Restaurant Design, Construction & Development Co. of Tampa, while the civil engineer is Z Development Services of Orlando.
Unlike most Metro Diner locations, the diner in Casselberry will be a free-standing prototype, reflecting the architectural style of the Metro Diner brand, said Bob Love, the construction project manager. Design features will include a brick façade, multiple windows, window treatments, canopies and aesthetic roofline and wall articulations.
Love said most existing Metro Diners are either in-line or end-caps. But that will change over time.
"In-line and end-caps can generally be conceived, built and opened in half the time required of free-standing prototypes and … at a lesser capital investment," Love said. "As most casual dining brands evolve, they move to free-standing prototypical (always the same look) buildings that promote the brand."
Metro Diner started in 1992 as one restaurant in Jacksonville. In 2000, master chef Mark Davoli and his family took over and enhanced the menu to include innovative new dishes created with local ingredients.
In 2014, Metro Diner entered into a partnership with ConSul Hospitality Group, whose directors founded and led major chains such as Longhorn Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse. ConSul purchased control of the restaurant brand in 2015. Bryant said the Davolis are still involved with Metro Diner.