Some have theme parks named after themselves. Others, hotels. Some refrain from using their personal moniker when naming their creations, at least until the time is right. Robert Earl is one of them.
Known in Orlando (mostly) for being the British brains behind Planet Hollywood, many are surprised when they hear his empire includes Buca di Beppo, Earl of Sandwich shops, and so much more. Today we’ll cover part of the ‘and more’ because now Robert can add TV show to his resume. And apparently, the time is right since he’s chosen to call it Robert Earl’s Be My Guest. Premiering this very month on the Cooking Chanel, Be My Guest follows Robert’s continual quest to take us on culinary excursions, but this time we’re leaving Orlando (although not in every episode) and doing some traveling.
The first in the series, Keep on Truckin’, premiered on September 8 and covered, well, as the name would hint, food trucks. So instead of taking us to an exceptional restaurant experience, in this episode Robert showed how the food is coming to us. And, the showcase city for this topic’s coverage was Los Angeles, one of the most mobile cities in the USA. Future editions will cover Robert’s Perfect Meal, partially filmed in Las Vegas, Cross Country Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (REMINDER TO SELF: take notes on how he creates the ‘Fat Elvis Waffle’!), and Mangia Italiano, where savvy locals will not be surprised to find he makes a visit to long time Orlando Italian favorite, Enzo’s on the Lake. For a complete listing with dates and times, consult the Cooking Channel link listed above.
So, you might be wondering where’s the Orlando connection with this post? Glad you ask because, despite being a bonafide world class jet-setter, since the late 1980’s Robert Earl has been right here in OTown working his magic in and around so many projects directly connected to our hospitality industry it’s a wonder more people don’t even realize he’s one of us. Admittedly, he was born elsewhere but gosh, where have we heard that before when speaking of Orlando residents? And, if you’ve lived in Orlando for at least 15 years (which by many standards means you’re now calling yourself a native and this is your home) you’ll remember seeing the name Robert Earl pop up with lots of other projects, some memorable (Hard Rock Café, sold in 1998 with an estimated value at over $100 million), some not (“hello, King Henry’s Feast?”). At one point, his long arm of hospitality reached all the way out to Las Vegas where he purchased, renovated, revived and then in 2010, sold the 2600 room Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino (formerly known as the Aladdin) to Caesar’s Entertainment. Yeah, this man knows his way around a deal or two.
Circling back to the theme of Orlando’s hospitality heroes, I think it’s safe to award this title to Mr. Robert Earl even though, technically, he hails from England. I believe anyone that provides hundreds of local service industry jobs, not to mention brings in $$$$$ by the ‘Planet’full (pun intended) to our area economy, should be called a Hospitality Hero in our community.