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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #271  (Vol. 6, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 30--June 5, 2005.

Bill Beuret: The Man Who Brought A Touch of Elegance and Taste of Paradise to Altamonte Springs....Movie Star Memorial...."William Moriaty's Florida" Book Now Available
 by William Moriaty
"The Longest Yard"
 by Mike Smith
The Horror Movie Beware List
 by Drew Reiber
"Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"...The Return of Hal Jordan, Green Lantern
 by John Lewis
Bugs Bunny....Passing On....Best Wishes....New From England....More Music For A Good Cause....The Story of Jaws
 by Mike Smith
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Bill Beuret: The Man Who Brought A Touch of Elegance and Taste of Paradise to Altamonte Springs

Bill Beuret looks much younger than his sixty years on the planet. He credits this to the younger people who force him to "think quick on his feet". They keep him young at heart and imbue him with enthusiasm about the future.

Mr. Beuret is the owner of Maison et Jardin Restaurant in Altamonte Springs, Florida, a suburban community northeast of Orlando. Maison's is possibly the finest restaurant in the state of Florida and possibly the United States for that matter.

Mr. Beuret purchased the restaurant in 1972 when he was a relatively young twenty-seven years of age. Prior to that he owned a rock and roll club in Orlando that he opened in 1969 after returning from military service in Viet Nam. Although the rock club was lucrative, the hours were long, due in large part to the late hours the club was kept open.

Beuret gathered his earnings and three years later purchased the Maison et Jardin Restaurant which was originally built in 1958 and served as a lady's tea room for lunch only until Beuret expanded the scope of the restaurant into the form that it exists today. Beuret mused that a local politician's husband would rarely be with his wife there as he still remembers it as that ladies tea room on a forested clay road known as Wymore Drive.

Is There Any Cheese With That Wine?
Beuret explained to me during our May 23, 2005 tree planting at his establishment that when he first operated Maison's in the early 1970's, finding vintage wines back then often required trips to Miami as no local distributors stocked such spirits some three decades plus ago. Now Maison's is the standard bearer for providing such vintages in the Orlando area.

The service at Maison's is absolutely exemplary. During my most recent visit there in March 2005, waiter Josh and maitre d Maurice provided me and Orlando graphic artist and author Lisa Clardy with superb timing and attention. As soon as one course was finished, the next was there to behold and then be consumed!

The food there is in a word, exquisite! The preparation is absolutely top notch and the meals are a literal work of art that provides a taste that's as close to paradise and perfect possible.

Lastly, the setting is elegant and classic. Unlike many other fine restaurants, Maison's is never gaudy, garish or pretentious in appearance. Every texture, color, artwork, craft, table setting and attention to detail has been impeccably well thought out in order to provide the most desirable dining experience anywhere on the planet. The setting compliments rather than clashes with your meal.

A Tree Is Planted At Maison's
The oppressive heat of Monday May 23, 2005 had Mr. Beuret and I perspiring like Robert Hayes in the movie "Airplane" as we lugged the 7-gallon Tulip Poplar tree from my car to the planting area behind the restaurant. This tree planting would mark the 200th planting project for my non-profit tree planting organization the Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc. and be the first planting to occur along the Little Wevika River Sub-basin (the restaurant being adjacent to Spring Lake).

As we began planting the tree, which was meant in large part to replace vegetation lost in last year's spate of hurricanes, we began to talk about each other's personal histories. Before I begin, I must note that Maison's does indeed grow its own herbs and vegetables - - I know this now as the tree is planted about twenty feet away from such a garden! Getting back on topic, Mr. Beuret is of Swiss and French ancestry and was born and raised in the state of New Jersey. We exchanged stories of how both of our families taught tolerance toward people unlike ourselves - - his parents from a northern perspective, mine from a southern perspective.

As we both continued to sweat and swelter, I told him of my love for Florida and its history, and he shared some pretty heavy Florida history of his own with me…

Miami Nice
One of Beuret's former properties, the Cardozo Hotel at 1300 Ocean Drive opened in 1939. One of the notable features of the Cardozo is the extensive use of a material known as tinted keystone. Made from locally indigenous rock known as Miami Oolite, or Oolitic Limestone, this porous rock with its imprints of coral absorb color tints used for architectural features such as the balustrades on the building’s front porch.
From approximately 1979 to 1981, Beuret and several other investors attempted to gentrify Miami's South Beach Art Deco District. He owned such deco hotel gems as the Cardozo, the Senator, the Carlisle, the Cavalier, the Victor, the Leslie and the Ocean View. As I had done several stories concerning Miami Beach's Art Deco District (see "La Floridiana" in PCRs #111 and 113), I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that he was one of the forces instrumental in trying to transform that architectural treasure from a dying ghetto to the world showcase it has once again become.

Yes, Beuret, along with historic figures such as Miami Design Preservation League founder Barbara Baer Capitman, her son John, and Vice President Leonard Horowitz, tried desperately to stop the wrecking ball from rendering this jewel of South Florida from extinction.

Sadly, one of the major investors in Beuret's venture withdrew his finances and Beuret's dream to transform SoBe came to an end - - at least for him and the other investors. Several years after the untimely end of Beuret's efforts to bring yet more elegance and excitement into other people's lives, NBC television moved film producer Michael Mann and his cast for the series "Miami Vice" (see "La Floridana", PCR #99 about this series) to the South Beach in 1984. Once the series debuted later that year, Miami Beach began to experience a renaissance that brought it from a dangerous slum to one of the hottest pieces of real estate on the planet - - so close and yet so far was Beuret's dream to fulfill such a positive and powerful initiative.

Florida Folk Hero
Another of Beuret's hotels along Ocean Drive in Miami’s art deco South Beach or “Sobe” district was the Cavalier.
Everything about Bill Beuret and his wife Judy is a class act.

His most noble feature is his gracious and down to earth demeanor. Many would conjure that anyone associated with a name like Maison et Jardin would be arrogant, pompous and callous, but nothing could be further from the truth in the case of Mr. Bill Beuret.

Bill Beuret is a genuine, caring soul who treats his subordinates in the same respectful manner that they in turn treat their customers. What a blessing it is to have met such a dynamic, inspiring and creative entrepreneur!

I have visited Maison's since first appearing there in 1984 with former girlfriend Judy Anderson of Clearwater, Florida in 1984, and it has never lost its elegance and its edge in every visit since.

If you want to have one of the most pleasurable dining experiences in Florida (or anywhere) phone or e-mail a reservation to Bill Beuret's Maison et Jardin Restaurant in Altamonte Springs - - you'll be glad you did!

Movie Star Memorial
Tens of thousands of motorists pass by the American Legion Cemetary off of W. Kennedy Boulevard west of S. Dale Mabry Hughway in Tampa. Little do most know that interred at this solemn location are the earthly remains of one Rondo Hatton. Mr. Hatton was a 1912 graduate from Hillsborough High School in Tampa and went on to serve as a second lieutenant in the First World War where he was injured due to being gassed in France. Mr. Hatton returned to work for the Tampa Times newspaper when he was discovered by movie director Henry King. King was so struck by the reporter's facial features, which were disfigured in a bulging by a hormonal disease known as acromegaly, that he offered him a part as thug in one of his movies. Afterwards, Hatton would star in numerous movies portraying a bad guy, but his most notable role was that of "The Creeper" in a Sherlock Holmes movie featuring Basil Rathbone. Hatton died in 1946 from a heart attack. A great synopsis of this man can be read in the Sunday May 29, 2005 edition of the Tampa Tribune in the Metro section in an article by columnist Steve Otto.

"William Moriaty's Florida" Book Now Available
What started four years ago in this very on-line publication, was collated in October of last year, and has been in graphic production by Lisa Clardy's F-Bod Studio has finally come to fruition! "William Moriaty's Florida" is a 295 page book with 44 photographs and illustrations that retails for $19.99 and is available at the CafePress. To order your copy or copies, simply link to http://www.cafepress.com/lafloridiana. I will begin an ambitious marketing campaign on behalf of this book, as well as dedicating a large amount of effort with my tree planting organization, so regretably, new "La Floridiana" columns will be slim pickin's over the next few months. Once things hopefully get normalized I will get the column back on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy reading "William Moriaty's Florida" as much as I enjoyed writing it!

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.