orlando, florida – When Mike D’Aquino moved to Florida from New York, he had no intention of running a restaurant.
“No, not at all,” said D’Aquino.
He previously worked at Brother Jimmy’s Barbecue for 15 years in New York City, where the chain started in 1989. .
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“So my family and I moved[to Florida]and worked for a franchise company, which has several quick service locations[of Brother Jimmy’s BBQ]and one full service location in Point Orlando. We were open for services,” he said. “Then when the world shut down[due to the pandemic]that company ran out of money, but that was fine. Brother Jimmy took me to Florida and got me out of New York. That’s what we wanted to do.
D’Aquino then shifted gears and moved into real estate.
“I entered the real estate market quickly. I still work for Douglas Elliman Real Estate,” he said. ’ It was amazing. It was something new and challenging. Fully utilize the skills cultivated in restaurant management. After all, business is people. Talking to people, connecting with people, filling a hole where someone needs help. It’s just being a good person that can help people get from point A to point B. ”
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D’Aquino said he enjoyed his new role but felt drawn back into the restaurant industry.
“Restaurant is more intentional serving,” he said. “When you serve someone a plate of food, they immediately eat it, feel satisfied, and love it. It’s a great feeling.”
Daquino happens to find himself at a traffic light near ICON Park. At the time, Brother Jimmy’s owner Jimmy Goldman was preparing to open a new location in the tourist attraction. The chain experienced a major contraction during the pandemic and was forced to close all of its stores in New York, leaving only his one Brother Jimmy’s in Maryland.
Daquino said he knew Goldman from his previous work at the company, but decided to back out of his plans for the ICON Park location.
“So I said, ‘I’ve become very good friends with Chris[Jaskiewicz]the president of ICON Park, so let’s have a conversation with Chris and see if there’s something we can work out.’ We’ll see if we can still open,” D’Aquino said.
Daquino and Jaskiewicz talked about what went wrong in the deal between ICON Park and Goldman and what it takes to get the restaurant back on track.
“So he said, ‘Okay, write a proposal, put the logistics together, show that you can raise the money, show that you can get it done. If you can do it, we will do it. ‘ said D’Aquino.
He managed to put it all together and returned to New York to collect all the furniture and decorations from the now-closed restaurant and send it back to Orlando.
After three months of work, the new Brother Jimmy location opened on August 12th.
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Daquino tells how he first got involved with Brother Jimmy’s and how he met his wife while working at one of their restaurants. He also talks about some menu highlights and what guests can expect when they stop by for a meal.
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Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast by WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what and how we eat and how it affects everyone here in Florida and everywhere.Find new episodes apple podcast, A place to download stitchers or your favorite podcasts.
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