Restaurants near the Orange County Courthouse are ordering more food, adding staff and extending hours in anticipation of the hundreds of reporters and gawkers expected this week for Casey Anthony’s murder trial.
“We’re going to have 400, 500 people outside the courthouse,” said Carey Sobel, a managing partner of recently opened Terrace 390 restaurant across from the courthouse in downtown Orlando. “We need to take advantage of that. Those people need to eat.”
The restaurant, at 390 N. Orange Ave., plans to keep more servers working during normally slow hours. The owners are considering adding pizzas and other menu items that cooks can prepare more quickly so people can grab meals on the run.
“We just have to be prepared for it,” said Kyle Israel, another co-owner. “It’s something that’s sad. ... but we have to be ready to accommodate everybody that we can.”
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The case against Anthony, charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie, in mid-2008, has drawn worldwide attention. Hundreds of reporters are expected to converge on downtown Orlando for the trial.
Jury selection is under way in Clearwater because of the intense pretrial publicity. And despite progress made Saturday, only a dozen potential jurors have been identified after six days of arduous work in court.
So opening statements will not begin Tuesday, as originally planned.
Maria Palmeri and her cousin Karina Montelongo just took over Dixie’s Cafe at 331 N. Orange Ave. in January. Palmeri expects the trial to provide “kind of a little push for the business, a rolling start.”
Palmeri has warned regular customers to call in lunch orders ahead of time for things that take a few minutes to prepare, such as Cuban sandwiches.
Perhaps the busiest place of all, however, will be Champs Cafe inside the courthouse complex.
Manager Rich Gordo has quadrupled his coffee orders. He also plans to fill a soda cooler with sandwiches, croissants, yogurt and other items people can pick up quickly.
If the first couple of days get busy, Gordo said, he may bulk up staffing or open earlier.
“We’re going to feel it out,” he said. “It’s going to be good for business, that’s for sure.”