Florida Foodie: Restaurateur Thomas Ward looks to build new brands in Orlando’s food scene

The owner of Pig Floyd’s is looking to open 2 new concepts

Thomas Ward is a businessman through and through.

He owns Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa in Orlando, which has a loyal following, but Ward freely admits his passion is not in cooking.

“I’m not a chef. I’ve learned how to cook on YouTube,” Ward said. “I brought in people that knew how to cook better than I do.”

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Despite that, Ward knew what he wanted out of his restaurant.

“It’s international barbecue. So I wanted to bring in all different flavor profiles,” Ward said.

That idea of international barbecue is evident with just a glance at the menu — which features tacos and bento boxes along with sandwiches and Cuban-style beans and rice.

Ward, who is originally from Puerto Rico, started his business career in real estate after graduating from Rollins College.

“It was a great market in (2005). And when the market went down, I was jobless. So I went back home to work with my family in the supermarket business,” Ward said.

However, he returned in 2011 and opened a food truck, but it was very different from Pig Floyd’s. His truck was serving up burgers and grilled cheese.

In 2014, when he decided to start a brick-and-mortar restaurant, someone suggested barbecue.

“My passion is obviously the business segment of it and creating and creating the concept and the brand. And that’s what I’ve been developing now for seven, almost eight years,” Ward said.

Now, he’s getting ready to do it again. Ward plans to open up a pizza concept called Pigzza along with fellow restauranteur Al Palo from Stasio’s Italian Deli. He is also working to open a breakfast and brunch spot called Peggy Floyd’s Luncheonette.

All this growth comes after a difficult year caused by the pandemic. Ward was forced to close his second Pig Floyd’s location in the Lake Nona area. Now, he is facing issues of inflating food costs and labor shortages, which are hitting restaurants across the country. Despite that, Ward has plans to grow his business.

“I am going to expand Pig Floyd’s. Hopefully, Pigzza is also expandable and then I’m going to be working on a breakfast, brunch restaurant,” Ward said. “So, I’ll have three different concepts and in the three different arenas that I think I can expand.”

In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Ward lays out more of his plans for expansion and how he is dealing with the ongoing struggles caused by the pandemic. He also talks about his own podcast, Beyond the Smoke, and his recent interview with his father.

Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s books, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”

Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere.

Find new episodes on Apple podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.