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Orlando hotelier/lawyer Roy B. Dalton thinks he has picked a plum in signing name chef Johnny Richards to operate his own restaurant at Dalton’s estimated $14 million, 167-room Embassy Suites Hotel scheduled to open in Downtown Orlando in November.

Rivers was an executive chef at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL for 25 years before opening his successful Johnny Rivers Smokehouse and BBQ Co. in 1998. He will continue to operate that west Orlando establishment after opening the Conch Me Crazy at the Embassy Suites.

The décor of the 200-seat, 4,000-sf restaurant, Conch Me Crazy, will have a Bahamian-Caribbean ambience. The food will have an island influence. Among the entrees: coconut-crusted grouper prepared in a brick oven and served with grapefruit butter and fried potato straws. The dessert highlight: black rum cheesecake with mango supreme.

Rivers, an award-winning chef through most of his career, helped Darden Restaurants Inc. launch the Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones barbecue restaurant prototypes in Orlando two years ago.

The hotel is catering to business travelers. Suites will be in the $125 to $170 daily range. Other amenities are a 9,000-sf meeting room, a grand ballroom and several boardrooms.

Dalton, whose nickname is Skip, founded Orlando-based Dalton Hotel Corp. in 1998. His partner is Dale Lindon, a longtime Orlando hotelier.

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