Disney Springs Town Center opened only days ago, but the re-imagining of the Walt Disney World entertainment district formerly known as Downtown Disney isn’t done yet, as celebrity chef Art Smith’s Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar is scheduled to open in mid-summer 2016.
Featuring farm-to-fork cuisine, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar will focus year-round on the state’s culinary bounty from far south to Key West to the western edge of the Florida Panhandle’s Perdido Key. In addition to showcasing seasonal harvests from the state’s farmland and diverse waters, the menu will also highlight purveyors of artisanal products such as locally roasted coffees, hand-crafted bread and distilled spirits.
Guests can expect Southern favorites such as cheese-laced drop biscuits, Smith’s world-famous fried chicken, and exceptional macaroni and cheese. Desserts will be a house specialty, with fresh fruit cobblers and other mouthwatering sweets including the restaurant’s signature Mockingbird and Shine cakes. The venue will feature an abundance of locally-sourced ingredients, and will adjust select dishes depending on the season.
The design for the 6,000-square-foot Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar resembles a mix between old Florida and rustic-chic decor, and the location will feature an open kitchen. The restaurant’s adjacent bar, Shine, will serve hand-crafted cocktails, resort-style punches and retro coolers made with artisanal moonshine.
“Florida is truly my home, and Walt Disney World Resort is the perfect place to open up my family kitchen to the world,” Smith said. “With Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar, we will provide guests at Disney Springs with an authentic taste of Florida during their visit.”
Smith is a sixth-generation Floridian who grew up in Jasper, a small town in Hamilton County on the Florida-Georgia border between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. His family still raises cattle and grows pecans and heirloom vegetables in the Florida Panhandle. While attending Florida State University, Smith participated in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World, which makes his latest endeavor a real homecoming.
Smith, a two-time James Beard Foundation award winner, is a familiar face on the national food scene, with restaurants in Naples, Florida; Chicago; Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Television viewers know him from the “Today” show, “BBQ Pitmasters” and “Top Chef Masters.” He was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years.
Until Homecoming arrives, here’s a video tour of the new Town Center at Disney Springs: