Justyn Czarnecki

Justyn Czarnecki has 463 articles published.


in Orlando News & Events


ORLANDO, FLORIDA –  If you’re a furloughed federal employee because of the government shutdown,  Lucky’s Market wants to buy you lunch.

This Saturday, just show up to one of the Orlando-area Lucky’s Market stores from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with your federal ID, and lunch is on the house, according to a Facebook post by the company.

“Thank you for everything you do to serve our community.”

Immediate family of furloughed employees are also included. 

Lucky’s has several participating locations around Central Florida including in Orlando, Winter Park and Hunter’s Creek.


La Boucherie infuses traditional steakhouse menu with classic French dishes

in Orlando News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel

La Boucherie, a steakhouse concept based in France, steals some of the best aspects of chain restaurants with its budget-friendly, consistent food. The restaurant infuses its traditional steakhouse menu with classic French dishes.

What I would try a second time

Admittedly, beef carpaccio ($7.90-$16.50) is one of my favorite dishes, but La Boucherie’s take is delectable all the same. The thin, melt-in-your-mouth slices of rare beef are marinated with basil and can be paired with warm goat cheese or Parmesan. Appetizer or entree portions are available.

What I didn’t like

My entree, the Daily Butchers Mix Grill Selection ($24.90), came with three cuts of steak — sirloin, flank and steak frites (another version of sirloin, but I substituted the fries for vegetables). The tender flank was an easy favorite, but the seasoning and temperatures were not consistent with the other two cuts.

What I would put on Instagram

Our dessert was particularly social media-worthy. The floating island ($6.80) consisted of whipped egg whites in a pool of crème anglaise, a soupy version of custard. A drizzle of caramel sauce finished off this not-too-sweet end to our meal.

Other eats

La Boucherie’s escargot ($9.50) swam in a mixture of garlic, shallots and butter — as expected. The snails were supple, not the dreaded gummy texture.

My guest’s half-roasted chicken was simple, but beautifully cooked to a juicy texture. Crisp French fries came with the bird, making him a happy man.

How I was treated

Our server was gracious and knowledgeable about the menu.

My next visit

Is it strange to want to try a cheeseburger at a French restaurant? La Boucherie’s burger options sound delicious — particularly a duo sandwiched between hashbrowns. Maybe for a future indulgent brunch (although the restaurant does have a menu of special brunch-only dishes already).

For bar-hoppers

French wine isn’t the only adult beverage on La Boucherie’s menu, French beer makes an appearance on the restaurant’s draft beer list. Belgian brews along with American craft and macro beers are also poured.

For those with special diets

Finding meat-free or vegan-friendly dishes is difficult at La Boucherie. A few salads can be tweaked to fit these dietary needs, and there is a vegetarian burger.

La Boucherie

  • Where: 7625 Turkey Lake Road in Orlando
  • When: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
  • Cost: $14.90-$30.25
  • Beverages: Beer, wine, cocktails, soda, coffee, tea
  • Wine by the glass: Yes
  • Attire: Casual
  • Extras: Indoor bar; indoor-outdoor seating; brunch
  • Noise level: Moderate
  • Wheelchair access: Good
  • Credit:Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover
  • Call: 407-930-1708
  • Online: and


National Winnie the Pooh Day: How to salute the silly old bear on Jan. 18

in Disney News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel

Fans of a certain tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff can spend Jan. 18 celebrating the silly old bear on National Winnie the Pooh Day. The holiday coincides with the Jan. 18, 1882, birthday of author A.A. Milne — who brought the stuffed bear to life in his books.

You can always commemorate the day by consuming a smackerel of honey (Pooh’s favorite snack), reading Milne’s stories or watching Winnie the Pooh cartoons or movies. Those in Central Florida also have a few other options for observing the holiday.

Ride the Walt Disney World attraction

Guests can re-live some classic Milne stories as their Hunny Pot navigates through various scenes on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom. Plus, while waiting in line for the ride, there are a few interactive areas: Rabbit’s Garden, the Hunny Wall, Piglet’s House and Eeyore’s Gloomy Place.

If you go: The park is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 18 at 1180 Seven Seas Drive in Lake Buena Vista. Tickets are $114 for ages 10 and up and $109 for kids ages 3-9 on Jan. 18.

Shop for the perfect Pooh presents

After exiting the ride, check out Hundred Acre Goods, which carries everything from stuffed animals to T-shirts. While you’re shopping, enjoy storybook drawings and pages on the walls and ceiling.

If you go: The store is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 18 at 1180 Seven Seas Drive in Lake Buena Vista. Tickets are $114 for ages 10 and up and $109 for kids ages 3-9 on Jan. 18.

Think, think, think at the Thotful Spot

Spend time with Tigger and Pooh in a shady place in the Hundred Acre Wood. The Thotful Spot at Magic Kingdom offers Disney guests a chance to take photos and interact with these iconic characters. The experience is offered 10:45 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18.

If you go: The park is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 18 at 1180 Seven Seas Drive in Lake Buena Vista. Tickets are $114 for ages 10 and up and $109 for kids ages 3-9 on Jan. 18.

Free photo op

Those looking for a free opportunity to see Pooh and friends should head to Disney Springs. In between Star Wars Trading Post and Goofy’s Candy Company, find Pooh, Piglet and Tigger waiting on a log to take pictures with visitors.

If you go: Disney Springs is open 10 a.m.-12 a.m. on Jan. 18 at 1486 Buena Vista Drive in Orlando.

Dine at The Crystal Palace

If you’re feeling rumbly in your tumbly, head to The Crystal Palace for a bite to eat. The Magic Kingdom buffet serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The best part? Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and more mingle with guests while they eat, making for a memorable meal.

If you go: The park is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 18 at 1180 Seven Seas Drive in Lake Buena Vista. Tickets are $114 for ages 10 and up and $109 for kids ages 3-9 on Jan. 18.


Central Florida honors Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend

in Central Florida News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel

Had he not been killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 on Jan. 15. This weekend, events around Central Florida will pay homage to the fallen Civil Rights leader. Some are celebrations of community. Some are good opportunities to learn about the issues King struggled against. All of them have the potential to inspire. Find one close to you or travel to somewhere new to remember his dream.

City of Hope: poetry, live music and keynote speakers. 7 p.m. Friday, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, 535 W. Washington St., Orlando, free,

Dance and Step Showcase: student performance. 6-9 p.m. Friday, Hungerford Gymnasium, 100 E. Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville, $1,

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade: celebration honoring the Civil Rights leader. 2 p.m. Saturday, Kennedy Boulevard, downtown Eatonville, free,

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vigil: a dance performance and speakers. 6 p.m. Monday, Tiedtke Concert Hall, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, free,

Eatonville Bike Show: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Hungerford Gymnasium Field, 100 E. Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville, free,

Gilbert King Signing: book signing by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America.” 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Writer’s Block Bookstore, 124 E. Welbourne Ave., Orlando, free, 407-335-4192,

Martin Luther King Day Parade: celebration honoring the Civil Rights leader. 10 a.m. Saturday, Orange Avenue, downtown Orlando, free,

MLK Day Celebration and Parade: parade followed by family fun day. 10 a.m. Monday, Round Lake Park, 891 E. Broadway St., Oviedo, free,

MLK Unity Parade and Celebration: parade and speakers. 10 a.m. Monday, Citrus Elementary School to West Oaks Mall, North Clarke Road, Ocoee, free,

Parramore Clean-Up Service Project: volunteer opportunity. 8:30 a.m. Monday, Florida A&M University, 201 Beggs Ave., Orlando, free,

Unity Celebration: Martin Luther King Jr. celebration with a kids zone and vendors. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Downtown Winter Garden, 104 S. Lakeview Ave., Winter Garden, free, 407-656-4155,

Unity Heritage Festival: includes entertainment, children’s games and vendors. Proceeds benefit the Educational Fulfillment Fund. 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Shady Park, 721 New England Ave., Winter Park, free, 407-599-3275,


Special Report: Universal’s Harry Potter ride and Disney’s Star Wars will open in 2019. Price hikes may come, too.

in Disney News & Events/Theme Parks News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel

As the arms race between the theme parks intensifies in 2019, tourism experts say they expect huge crowds — and rising ticket prices — to continue in Orlando.

“All the major theme park operators have put a lot of money in 2019, Disney in particular,” said Rick Munarriz, a senior analyst for Motley Fool.

The biggest new expansion will be Star Wars land built on 14 acres with two signature rides. It’s scheduled to open in late fall in Orlando.

“Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge has the potential to be as big, if not bigger, than Hogsmeade’s addition to Universal’s Islands of Adventure,” said University of Central Florida hospitality associate professor Duncan Dickson, referring to the Harry Potter expansion that opened in 2010. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”

Universal also is building a new roller coaster based off the Harry Potter franchise that’s set to open sometime in 2019 at Islands of Adventure. The theme park operator has kept quiet on the details of the ride and not announced which month it will open.

A Universal spokesman did not return a message for comment for this story, although a company public relations employee teased recently news is coming on social media.

2019 could also be time for Universal Orlando to start making major announcements, Munarriz predicted, with the company sharing more about what will be coming to get people to thinking about travel plans early.


Orlando Museum of Art may be moving to Lake Nona

in Orlando News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Weekly

There’s a chance the Orlando Museum of Art may soon be on the move to Lake Nona, thanks to one of the world’s largest private art collectors. 

The Orlando Business Journal reports that billionaire Joe Lewis, the investor in Lake Nona developer the Tavistock Group, has proposed a potential $10 million investment into a new OMA. That is, if the nonprofit can fork over an additional $30 million in fundraising for a pricey $40 million building in Lake Nona. Total amounts for the development weren’t noted. 

“We are exploring the viability of bringing a world-class, iconic museum of art that a city like Orlando … deserves,” Glen Gentele, director and CEO of the OMA, says in a statement. “For nearly three years, at OMA’s request, Tavistock has graciously worked with us to help identify a new location for the museum. An exhaustive search entailed reviewing more than 20 sites within the city of Orlando. Unfortunately, no viable sites resulted, and the project had come to a standstill.” 

That’s when OMA approached Tavistock about the idea of possibility relocating within Lake Nona, the statement says. 

“After exploring a number of locations, the possibility of situating the museum proximate to the airport with great access and visibility, with plenty of room to grow, is intriguing,” Gentele says. 

We’ve reached out to Tavistock for comment. 

The OMA’s current building, which was built in 1974, is located on North Mills Avenue in Loch Haven Park. 

In 2015, during a press conference with Gentele and OMA’s Strategic Planning Committee chairman Ted Brown, it was noted that the Loch Haven Park location was “not viewed as the ideal location” for OMA’s future. 


Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Parade to close downtown Kissimmee roads temporarily

in Kissimmee News & Events

SOURCE: Osceola News-Gazette

The city of Kissimmee will conduct temporary road closures in downtown Kissimmee on Saturday, Jan. 19, to accommodate the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration parade.

The roads to closing at 8 a.m. are:

• Bryan Street between Rose Avenue and Ruby Avenue.

• Patrick Street between Beaumont Avenue and Ruby Avenue.

• Rose Avenue from Bryan to Emmett Street.

• Emmett Street from Rose Avenue to Ruby Avenue.

• Broadway from Ruby Avenue to Neptune Road.

• Dakin Avenue from Broadway to Monument Avenue.

• Ruby Avenue from Broadway to the train tracks.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. and roads are expected to reopen by 11 a.m. Motorists will be able to utilize Church Street and Mabbette Street as alternate routes for east and westbound traffic in downtown Kissimmee.

For those who want to go to the Marina, uninterrupted access will be available from John Young Parkway to Patrick Street, to Beaumont Avenue to Lakeview Drive.

Free parking will be available at the Toho Square Garage located at 92 Pleasant St., and the Kissimmee Intermodal Parking Garage located at 205 E. Dakin Ave. Downtown patrons and business owners should avoid parking on Broadway after 6 a.m. as vehicles will not be permitted to leave after 10 a.m. due to spectator arrival.


Local domestic violence shelters forced to cut staff, services due to government shutdown

in Central Florida News & Events


DELAND, Fl. – Some domestic violence shelters have had to cut staff and services beacuse of the government shutdown.

Volusia County’s Beacon Center is one of the shelters expected to take a hit.

“I have been tossing and turning, up late, early, waking up, thinking about the choices that we have to make,” said Beacon Center Director Angie Pye.

Pye has been crunching the numbers and believes she’ll have to furlough 15 of her 27 employees and limit financial help for some of the women that the shelter assists. The center will soon only be able to provide “core services” such as the emergency shelter and 24-hour hotline.

Services such as helping women file restraining orders will have to be cut.

Lara Weems Rezapour serves as a lawyer for the Beacon Center and is worried that some of the cuts will leave women in danger.

“If I had a lawyer to be able to stand beside me to say, no we are going to do this together, then I would’ve moved forward with my case,” said Rezapour. “I most likely would’ve gotten an injunction and I wouldn’t have had to live on the run for all that time.”

Many Central Florida domestic violence shelters rely on the federal government for up to 40 percent of their funding. 


Sensing something great: New park catering to special needs kids opens next month

in Kissimmee News & Events

SOURCE: Osceola News-Gazette

An new “all inclusive” playground designed to accommodate special needs children is set to open in Kissimmee next month.

The park is called “Senses,” and it’s built with children like 6-year-old Jase in mind.

Jase was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for him to distinguish voices in crowded places.

His mom, Osceola County resident Angela Mikolajek, said traditional playgrounds can be overwhelming and sometimes stressful because it’s hard for Jase to hear her.

Jase was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for him to distinguish voices in crowded places.

His mom, Osceola County resident Angela Mikolajek, said traditional playgrounds can be overwhelming and sometimes stressful because it’s hard for Jase to hear her.

But Senses Park isn’t like traditional playgrounds.

Brightly painted equipment is spread out so children can explore at their own pace while strategically placed shrubs and bushes help block out the noise of nearby traffic.

Mikolajek said she’s excited to see a project like this open in Osceola County.

“It shows that we as a community are not only accepting but embracing those who are differently abled than us,” she said.

Work on the 1.5-acre park, located at the intersection of Florida Parkway and Buenaventura Boulevard, began in June.

It repurposes the old Buenaventura Lakes fire station lot, which moved to a new location last year.

Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer – whose district includes the new park – said she wanted to bring a project like this to the community after parents in district 2 told her how challenging it can be to take their special needs children to traditional playgrounds.  

Now that it’s about to open, Janer said she’s excited for Osceola County to offer this unique resource.


Osceola County seeks $18 million for BRIDG project

in Osceola County News & Events

SOURCE: Orlando Rising

Osceola County’s biggest economic development project is going strong, thanks in part to $12 million in state funding so far.

But this year, BRIDG could use another $18 million, County Manager Don Fisher told Osceola’s legislative delegation Wednesday.

The Bridging the Innovation Development Gap center opened two years ago as the centerpiece of Osceola County’s NeoCity high-tech development beginning its first sales this fall of microelectronics specialty sensors, a business nurtured through local and state grants and participation from the University of Central Florida.

Osceola and Kissimmee officials are counting on BRIDG, a 109,000-square-foot nanotechnology center, to anchor a new high-tech sector, balancing the tourism economy that has long defined the area.

But it needs another $8 million in recurring funding and an additional $10 million in money for tools from this year’s Legislative Session, Fisher and John Newstreet, president and CEO of the Kissimmee Osceola County Chamber of Commerce told area lawmakers Thursday.

That was the biggest ask from area officials as Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando, Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud, Democratic state Rep. John Cortes of Kissimmee, and Republican state Rep. Josie Tomkow of Polk City held their annual Osceola County delegation meeting Thursday.

“Because of the successes and the help from the state of Florida we have been able to achieve some successes,” Fisher said. “That’s a direct result of the appropriations that BRIDG received for tools to go with the 200-millimeter [wafer fabrication] line that could be commercialized. This year… we’re seeking an additional $8 million in recurring funding for the budget, which is currently $5 million right now. And then an additional $10 million for tools.

“Should we be successful in getting the recurring dollars into BRIDG’s budget in some form, we won’t be coming back asking for recurring funds in the future,” Fisher promised. “We will be coming back asking for money for tools because it is the tools that create the product lines that can be sold. Without tools, we’ve got nothing to sell.”

The center will be seeking another $38 million in state funding for tools over the coming years, including the $8 million sought this year, Fisher said.

BRIDG and a high-tech high school at the NeoCity complex going up east of Kissimmee, plus programs at Valencia College are the keys to the county’s hopes to diversify its economy. Osceola officials estimate that the development could generate between 4,000 and 20,000 jobs eventually.

“This is a good project,” Newstreet told the lawmakers. “We are trying to make it a great project, and you are a key player in getting it to that next level.”

Among other asks from various officials:

— Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez asked for $960,000 to help the city make up a budget shortfall to build a new public safety training complex, that would include an indoor firing range, a firefighter training tower and other facilities. He also asked for $1.2 million for some storm water drainage improvement projects and $500,000 for affordable housing construction assistance.

— Alvarez and St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell also asked for very similar local bills, to allow smaller-than-standards restaurants to get liquor licenses in their historic downtown areas.

The delegation voted unanimously to support those local bills, with La Rosa agreeing to take on St. Cloud’s and Cortes, Kissimmee’s. At the same time, La Rosa and Torres wondered aloud if the issue was bigger than a couple of local bills, and they both pledged to explore statewide legislation that would make it easier for cities like St. Cloud and Kissimmee to include such restaurants in redevelopment efforts. Orlando sought and received state clearance for such liquor licenses last year.


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