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Bento founders say ghost kitchen, hall will help make Orlando ‘food hub of the Southeast’

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By Austin Fuller

Orlando Sentinel • Dec 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm

The founders of Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi are planning to build a food hall in Orlando after opening a delivery and takeout ghost kitchen, all with the aim of helping other chefs develop new ideas.

Johnny Tung, who founded the Orlando-based Bento chain of more than 20 restaurants with his brother Jimmy Tung in 2002, said they are planning the food hall with partner David Yu on Colonial Drive near Hampton Avenue between Dollar Tree and Lily’s Bridal.

The new 10,000-square-foot building, which will also be home to Bento’s corporate office and a multi-function kitchen space for things like catering or pop-up events, is expected to open at the end of next year, Tung said. The food hall could be home to about eight restaurants.

“We want to be a food hub of the Southeast,” Tung said. “The way to do it is to continue to help mentor local chefs and make sure they succeed.”

Tung sees the hall as the next step in helping mentor other restaurateurs, with the first effort called Collab Kitchens, which he opened recently in a Publix plaza at Curry Ford and Conway Roads.

That 2,400-square-foot space is a ghost kitchen, a spot that doesn’t have a dining room but where customers can order takeout or delivery through apps such as Uber Eats. Multiple restaurants can prepare their dishes there.