The chain restaurant legend goes that Pizza Hut got that name because after “PIZZA,” the sign only had room for three more letters. Well, check out my photo of the new Irish bar and grill at 5877 W. 192 in Kissimmee, FL. It’s not BENNIGAN’S, the last restaurant at that location. The new place is just two letters different -- BRANIGAN’S.
A couple years back – the last time I was in Bennigan’s -- the carpet was greasy-black and the white ceiling tiles yellow-brown. Bennigan’s soon went bankrupt and closed all company-owned locations. (Franchised locations are still open.) Just this month, new owners have given the vacant Irlo Bronson Highway location a thorough scrubbing, replaced that carpet and ceiling, and put the past behind them with an “R” and an “A.”
I stopped in for lunch today and first thing I noticed, the guy behind the bar was Irish. He’s not a bartender, but one of the owners. The menu has a more genuine Irish flavor too – bacon and cabbage, scotch eggs, and chip butty (or what Americans would call a French fry sandwich). There’s plenty of more American options too, including a number of burgers.
I had the pork loin sandwich, topped with an apple coleslaw and served with a side of freshly-fried potato chips (or what the Irish would call “crisps"). The meat looks machine-sliced, but has great flavor and the slaw is unique. Fries (or “chips”) are an extra buck. Our server joked that they’re already having trouble keeping chips and “chips” straight in the kitchen.
I’m sure the bar area will be a big part of Branigan’s business, but it was a little early in the day for Guinness. Maybe next time.