ORLANDO, Fla. – A restaurant in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood is making changes to its rules for customers after dealing with problems from students at nearby Bishop Moore Catholic High School and their parents.
Starting Tuesday, Tornatore’s Restaurant, 3818 Edgewater Drive, is banning anyone under the age of 18 from entering the restaurant without an adult.
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“Recently, we’ve had a group of children coming over from Bishop Moore that have been so disrespectful to my staff, and I won’t have that,” said Denny Tornatore, the restaurant’s owner.
Tornatore said the other issue comes from the students’ parents using his business’ parking lot to pick up their children, rather than waiting in the school’s pick-up line. Tornatore, whose restaurant sits in a shopping plaza with six other businesses, said parents waiting for their children have crowded out any potential customers and jammed up neighborhood side streets.
“Every year I go to complain to Bishop Moore and they tell me the same thing — that anything that happens off their property, there’s nothing they can do,” Tornatore said. “And I get that it’s not on their property. So it’s the parents that are the issue. And you can’t even get in here when they’re letting out of school.”
News 6 has reached out to the school for comment on the issue. This story will be updated if Bishop Moore sends a response.
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Tornatore said he has tried to communicate the issue with the parents directly but claims he has only been met with “attitude and rudeness.”
“We spent so much money and having off-duty police officers here and we’re in a pandemic and food cost is higher than ever. I can’t afford to be paying cops to do Bishop Moore’s job,” Tornatore said.
Tornatore added the problem has extended beyond the school day, affecting all of the businesses in the plaza.
“This is a plaza that has six businesses — and all family-owned businesses — and we literally lose money every day,” he said. “There’ll be a sporting event at Bishop Moore, there are literally signs everywhere (to not park here) they’ll park their car here and go to the sporting event for 5 hours.”
Tornatore said he plans to put out cones in his parking lot Tuesday in an effort to help enforce the new rules and keep parents out of his lot.
“I hired security, starting tomorrow,” he said. “We’re putting cones up everywhere. When (students) try to come across the street, we’re going to intercept them and say, ‘Why are you coming over here? Go back. There’s a place to hang out at Bishop Morris specifically. They have an after-school program, you can sit there and wait for free.’”
In addition to the rule changes, the restaurant owner is also making changes to the menu, no longer selling pizza by the slice. He said he hopes this move will further discourage students from trying to hang out at his restaurant.
“We’re in the process of transitioning into a finer Italian restaurant anyway, this will help us solidify that, and I won’t tolerate my staff being disrespected by overprivileged kids,” he said.
He said the transition to higher-end dining comes as prices are on the rise.
“I’ve got to, I’ve got to raise the experience to match the prices,” Tornatore said.
In addition to refining the menu, the business owner added he plans on remodeling the restaurant in stages, to improve the ambiance.
“We’re gonna do it piece by piece,” he said. “This month, we’re gonna do our bathrooms and hallway. And then next month, we’re gonna do the front waiting area and the front of the restaurant. And then in July we’re gonna have to close for a couple of weeks to do the dining room.”
Tornatore hopes the new rules and the improved setting will bring back some of the customers who he said have been avoiding the business because of the crowds of students.
“The one thing that really bothers me is there is some really great kids (at Bishop Moore),” he said. “I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve watched some of those kids go right through high school and go on to do great things and they still come here and eat. And there are some really good apples over there, but I don’t know what’s going on.”