FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Around the State- Central Florida- Jan. 2001

Daytona Beach -- The Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a web database that allows prospective diners to pick local restaurants by cuisine, price range and keyword, and access menus. The database, at www.daytonabeach.com, has about 400 restaurants in 25 categories.

Lake Buena Vista -- Victoria & Albert's restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa was the only Florida restaurant among nine nationwide to be added to the list of AAA Five Diamond winners last year. Three other Florida restaurants were already on the list.

A circuit judge let stand the $240-million verdict against Disney by two New Jersey businessmen who claimed the idea for Disney's Wide World of Sports was actually theirs. Disney plans to appeal.

Orlando -- Customers who stay at Universal Orlando's on-site hotels will be able to skip the lines for rides at its attractions. Two rides at Islands of Adventure and one ride at Universal Studios are excluded.

Gray, Harris & Robinson has launched an acquisition spree that has nearly doubled the size of the Orlando law firm since August. Most recently, the firm acquired Lane, Trohn, Bertand & Vreeland of Lakeland, bringing Gray, Harris to 129 lawyers in five cities.

Galaxy Foods Co. (Amex-GXY) is teaming up with General Nutrition Cos. to develop a chain of vegetarian restaurants tentatively called Vegetarian Café. Galaxy, a cheese maker that specializes in dairy-related alternatives and soy-based products, will supply the ingredients while Pittsburgh-based GNC will operate the restaurants. The launch sites and dates have not been released. Galaxy is cutting 49 jobs in Orlando as a result of automating part of its production.

Actress Hedy Lamarr's estate was ordered to pay the legal bills of E&J Gallo Winery in the wake of the late actress's lawsuit claiming the winery illegally used her image in an ad for Gossamer Bay wine. The suit was dismissed as groundless in June.

Signature Flight Support Corp. plans to buy South Carolina-based Ranger Aerospace, an aviation investment and management holding company. Ranger's biggest subsidiary is Aircraft Service International Group in Fort Lauderdale, which provides the same kind of airfield services Signature does. Signature will pay about $152 million.

Port Canaveral -- Port Canaveral edged Miami-Dade Seaport as the busiest cruise terminal in North America in fiscal 2000 -- statistically, at least. The industry counts "revenue passengers" as those who enter and leave the port on separate days. About half of Port Canaveral's 3.8 million passengers embarked on four- to five-hour gambling cruises, returning to port after midnight -- which makes them "revenue passengers."

Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE-CCL) says it is building a 2,124-passenger cruise ship, Carnival Pride, that will offer seven-day cruises beginning in early 2002. The 86,000-ton ship will be the largest based at Port Canaveral.

Sanford -- Valencia Community College and Seminole Community College have collaborated to create an associate of science degree program in e-business technology. The program will be launched with a $900,000 grant from the state-funded Horizon Jobs program.

Financing: World Expo

KISSIMMEE -- World Expo Center developer Rob Miller has backed down from earlier plans to sell tax-exempt bonds to finance part of the project after State Attorney Lawson Lamar challenged the legality of the plan. Miller says he dropped the plan after realizing that it would take years for the dispute to wind its way through the courts. Instead, he says he will soon announce new funding sources for the planned $650-million hotel, office, convention center project.