The biggest change is in the Italy pavilion.
L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante will close Aug. 31, and a new operator, the Patina Restaurant Group, will reopen the space the next day, operating a generic Italian restaurant with a different menu until the summer of 2008, when it will close for remodeling. It will open again late next year with a new name, new look and new menu.
Alfredo's management would not comment on Disney's decision. The company, Alfredo, the Original of Rome (Fla.) Inc., is run by Russell Bellanca, son of the man who owned the North American rights to the use of the name of the original Roman restaurant. Disney says it's the most popular at Epcot, grossing more than $20 million last year.
The decision to change the Italian restaurant operator came about as a business opportunity to modernize the eatery, says Memo Emec, Disney's regional manager of operating participants.
Those close to Alfredo's say the company's management was surprised by the decision. It's possible the company will use the value of the Alfredo's brand and relocate off Disney property, perhaps in a non-Disney hotel in Lake Buena Vista.