Edison Restaurant Generates Pre-opening Buzz

Sep 8, 2015

The long-awaited Edison Restaurant will soon be opening on the southern edge of Cascades Park.  WFSU-FM got an advance look at the establishment on September first.

Tallahassee's new Edison Restaurant in the final stages of construction, just weeks before its anticipated opening.
Credit Tom Flanigan

Construction crews are swarming through the nearly 95 year old building.  Calmly waiting to greet you in the midst of this hurricane of activity in an immaculate white chef's jacket is the Edison Restaurant's culinary captain, John Minas. Chef Minas is by means a stranger to Tallahassee.
"For the last 4 years I had the honor and pleasure of serving Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott at the (Florida Governor's) Mansion," he said.
Minas explained the Edison Restaurant will actually be 8 distinct eating and drinking establishments in one location.
"It's like a food court in a sense," he said. "You want to come in after a nice 18-hole round of golf and have a beer, you want to bring in a date and have a 3-course bottle of wine meal, quick cup of coffee, very elegant 7-course wine dinner, the banquet hall on top of that for wedding receptions and rehearsals, lunchesl...there's nothing we can't do here."
Inside the street-level front door is the main dining room and bar.
"There will be a host's stand here and we'll have our maitre'd dressed to the nines; every host is looking perfect. We have some comfortable couches here that we're going to pick out.  And then this elevator will have wall-to-wall, top-to-bottom white subway tile and each one of those (light) sockets will house an Edison light bulb."
Bulbs which Minas said are incredibly rare and very tough to find.  He said this will be the Edison's - you'll excuse the expression - "power center".
"In the corner we have a round booth that's going to be where I think is the place you want to sit in this establishment, in this dining room."
There's a covered outside deck bar overlooking the Cascades Park Amphitheatre.
"And that will provide drinks for this area and there's a limited cocktail menu, so that will be more your Jack and Coke, vodka tonic, gin and tonic things like that, but also rosewater pink lemonade, which is one of our signature cocktails will be available through here; shaken with gin or virgin, whatever they want."
Directly below is a cozy, verdant nook for craft beer afficianadoes.
"What we're having here around the back perimeter is going to be banquette seating for about 40 or 50 people total in this area," he indicated with a sweep of his hand.  "There will be lush greenery and landscaping.  This spiral staircase was a piece of the building and historically it needs to be kept."
Except now it will carry plantings instead of foot traffic.  On the Edison's top-most level is the banquet hall.
"This is where you'd typically see wedding parties, reception dinners, cocktail receptions, fundraisers, luncheons, all kinds of different events," Minas said.
There are even  liquor lockers where upscale guests can keep their private stash of vintage wines and spirits for special occasions.  The Edison's main kitchen has every conceivable contrivance for professional food preparation.
"Moving down, we'll have a standing fridge and standing freezer," Minas said as electrical and plumbing crews attacked the space. "Then we have our triple fryer, 8 burner gas stove with two ovens, we have our plonsha that goes next to that and then our char-broiler, which will go on the opposite side."  
On the ground level, areas for coffee, wine, home-churned ice cream and lighter fare.
"It's a cafe concept," Minas said, "with smoothies, salads, sandwiches, coffee by Catalina Cafe and this will be called 'Power Plant.'"
There are upper and lower patio spaces, the downstairs will feature fire pits and a backyard ambiance with comfort food treats.
"You can get hot chocolate, you can get hot toddies, you can get a glass of wine and a package of s'mores over the fire.  It's a great idea!"
Taking the family to a Cascades Park concert?  You can have the Edison make you up a picnic basket for the occasion.
"You can just order it online, pick it up briefly and go and walk and enjoy the rest of the night and you'll have a nice picnic basket to take home," Minas enthused. "It's a great concept!"
So what style of cuisine will the Edison be known for?  Minas said the food will represent three primary regions.
"I have a big background in Armenian and Syrian and Lebanese food," he said.  "That's my heart and my passion.  I am a Yankee also from Boston, Massachusetts originally."
Plus his take on American Southern cooking, a bit less deep-fried and healthier than traditional, but still very home-style.
"We are trying as little as possible to buy anything from outside," he insisted.  "We want to really give the guests our flavors and our experience that we want to take with them and come back over and over and over again."  
So when will the Edison be open? Minas predicted weeks if not days.
"That is fluid right now, but it will be in mid-September is the idea right now."
Tallahassee's Edison Restaurant.  Ready to electrify the area just as the building did almost a hundred years ago when it was the Capital City's main energy source.