A true “speciality restaurant,” Primo offers Italian food and help to local farmers.

ORLANDO — Whenever Gilberto Ramirez gets ready to start cooking dinner, all he has to do is reach into his organic garden.
“We grow a lot of things in our garden,” Ramirez said. “Basically, it’s to help out the planet.”
The environmentally-conscious chef isn’t talking about the cooking he does at his home. The organic garden is located at the place where Ramirez works as the Chef de Cuisine, or chef in charge: Primo, by Melissa Kelly, the restaurant inside the JW Marriot Orlando hotel in the Grand Lakes resort off John Young and the Central Florida Parkway. Their mission: upscale dining in a restaurant that serves Mediterranean food with, as Ramirez noted, “a heavy Italian influence.”
The restaurant emphasizes fresh local ingredients such as citrus and seafood, along with vegetables and herbs grown on-site in that organic garden.
“We’re supporting our local farmers, with local ingrediences and local produce,” Ramirez said.
Primo opened its doors around the same time that the JW Marriott did a few years ago, and Ramirez has also been there from the beginning.
“I started out, actually, as Cook 3 — which is a starting cook,” he said. “I moved my way up to Cook 2, Cook 1, and then supervisor.” Then he completed his climb up the ladder when he became the chef in charge of planning their menu.
“Our signature dish is Pork Sulta Malta,” he said. “It’s two very thin medallions of pork with roasted garlic and mashed potatoes. That’s probably the biggest seller there is.”
What’s the key to making a dish like that?
“The key to it is respect the food and take care of the ingredients,” he said. “And make it with love.”
Primo offers indoor and outdoor seating, for dinner only. The doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Their success has been impressive at a time when consumers are very selective about how they spend their money.
Central Florida’s economy went into a painful tailspin in 2008 as the once-booming housing market crashed, and the local unemployment rate soared to double digits.
The hospitality and tourism industries didn’t get spared the turmoil, and took a major hit as well in 2009.
But so far this year, the industry appears to be on a rebound and getting stronger. Hotel occupancies are up, the theme parks are reporting improved attendance numbers, and even a high end restaurant like Primo is doing solid business — an encouraging sign at a time when consumer spending remains so tight.
“Right now it’s a little busy,” Ramirez said. “We get on average about 150 people a night. We can do 237.”
He expects those numbers to improve in May, with both Mother’s Day and the Memorial Day Weekend coming up.
“Mother’s Day is pretty big for us,” he said.
Part of their appeal, he added, is giving the guests an experience they’re likely to remember — both in terms of the quality of food served and the service provided from the moment they walk in the door.
“They start coming in at 6 o’clock, and the first person they see is the hostess,” Ramirez said. Having made reservations in advance — highly recommended at Primo — “We try to greet them by name,” he said. “Then we walk them to their table and the server will tell them about how we operate, and our philosophy, how we’re supporting our local community. That’s our biggest goal.”
And, of course, they encourage guests to stay long enough to sample Primo’s dessert menu, he added.
“We have a lot of great desserts,” he said. And if they want to top it off with a drink, “We do have a lot of different wines, great Italian wines.”
These days, Ramirez said, Primo is trying to develop its own identity, separate from the hotel that it’s a part of.
“The biggest challenge we have is we are in a great hotel, but some of our local residents don’t know we’re here,” he said. “But we do get some locals who say, ‘Boy, we never knew you existed before’ once they find out about us. We’re a specialty restaurant.”
Primo is at 4040 Central Florida Parkway in Orlando. For reservations at Primo, call 407-393-4444. For reservations at the JW Marriott, call 407-206-2300.
To learn more, log on to http://www.grandelakes.com/Primo-78.html.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

Tech Trends: Virtual servers for all sizes and customers.

To the Clouds ....

Many have seen the Microsoft commercials lately that show some mom editing a family picture or the couple watching a movie remotely as they say, “to the cloud”. What does it really mean, and how can small business benefit from it?
A web service that could be provided by your company with your own servers that’s moved to a service handled by another.
A great example goes all the way back to having your own server to host your website. Now you likely pay a company a monthly service fee to host the website on their server for you. Other vital business services such as email, that once required a local server connected in your office, for years have been provided by external companies like Google’s Gmail and Yahoo.com. Even Customer Relationship Management software can now be hosted as a service, like the very popular Salesforce.com. Amazon.com hosts virtual servers for small, medium and large customers. Foursquare, Netflix and other large companies use the Amazon datacenter services but Amazon also hosts thousands of other smaller companies websites and application services as well.
Part of what I love doing for small- and medium-sized businesses is showing them how technology can help them. Google Apps is one of those great technologies and it is a great example of Cloud. If you have a small business and you send emails with an @yahoo.com, @gmail.com or other free email service rather than @yourcompanyname.com, you are missing an opportunity to put your company name in front of your customer. For $50 per user per year your business can share and collaborate on docs, calendars, participate in video chats, instant message and have a dedicated website and email using your own .com address. You can learn more about the service at www.google.com/apps
The Cloud is only going to grow and more services will be provided as new technologies come about and new ways to deliver them are needed. This is all good for us, the consumer, because we can benefit from the technological cost of scale. The more people Google and Amazon can squeeze into a delivery model based on the technology used, the cheaper the per-user cost will become. That is good for all of us. Rumors are already circulating that the multimillion-dollar datacenter in North Carolina Apple just built may be used as a “digital locker” for all your iTunes data. This way of delivering technology is only getting better since many of us have ever-increasing speeds of internet delivery at our homes and businesses. I can’t wait to see what next big thing we get from the Cloud.

Matt Chapman, of Avalon Park, is an iPhone/iPad developer and owner of Origin Technologies, www.origintech.net. Email him at matt@origintech.net.
This article comes to Freeline Media Orlando courtesy of The East Orlando Sun.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

Council of Prison Locals calls for protective equipment for the safety of correctional officers in federal prisons.

Retired Lt. Garry L. Jones has witnessed many deaths and fights and has been subject to death threats while working in the federal prison system.

The Council of Prison Locals , part of the American Federation of Government Employees, is calling for protective equipment to heighten correctional officer safety in the Bureau of Prisons.
As we all know, the U.S. has an increasing prison population — in particular within the federal prison system. Though the country is facing steep federal budget cuts in so many areas, one area that clearly cannot withstand a budget cut — unless prisoners are released – is the prison system. Recently, the Federal Bureau of Prison asked for an increased budget for the fiscal year 2012, in part for the safety and security of both the prisoners and the BOP staff.
During his career in both state and federal prisons, Retired Lt. Garry L. Jones has witnessed many deaths, fights and was himself subject to death threats as a result of the violence within state and federal prisons. He speaks of some of these incidents within his relatively new book, Straight Out of Hell 2: The True Character of Man.
In his book he details an incident that involves both the safety of prison staff and a life threatening situation involving one inmate, where two fights were going on at the same time.
An inmate begged Jones — who was a correctional officer at the time — “Please don’t let me die.” The inmate was subjected to a repeated systematic stabbing from other gang members within the prison. Fortunately, Jones did not place himself in harms’ way, but instead had a colleague cover him from a tower, ready to fire his weapon if the inmates attacked him. Jones also took mental notes on some of the inmates involved in the altercation and was able to later identify them after they scattered from the stabbing.
The recent Government Accountability Office report entitled “Bureau of Prisons: Evaluating the Impact of Protective Equipment Could Help Enhance Officer Safety,” recommended that BOP management assess whether protective equipment would improve officer safety, something CPL has long advocated.
“We fully support the issuance of protective equipment to our BOP correctional staff,” said CPL President Bryan Lowry. “Correctional officers are unarmed, violence is increasing and the inmate population has increased at an average rate of 6,000 new assignments each year during the last decade. Protective equipment such as batons and pepper spray would greatly enhance officer safety.”
“We can carry our weapons to and from work we have to put it in the armory,” Jones said. “As far as pepper, I’m glad they can’t carry pepper spray. An inmate can take it away from weak officers and use it against them as well as batons.”
Jones attended North Carolina Central University, earning a B.A. in Criminal Justice. He was employed by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in Lorton, Virginia as a corrections officer. In 1988 he became a case manager at the Triangle Correctional Institute in Raleigh, and the Goldsboro Correctional Center in Goldsboro, N.C. In 1991, he began working for the U.S. Department of Justice at Federal Prison Camp Seymour Johnson, located at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C.; he was later promoted to lieutenant at Federal Prison Camp Seymour Johnson only to be promoted again as senior lieutenant at FCI Tallahassee.
In July 2003, Jones retired after working a combination of 16 years for federal and state prison facilities.
Though there is a great need for safety and protection of the BOP staff from such violence, as well as the staff protecting inmates who are under attack, the prison should consider what could happen if an inmate overpowered a member of the staff.
“We need to keep our workers safe,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “Low staffing levels combined with a rising inmate population results in a dangerous work environment for staff. Providing protective equipment would greatly enhance worker safety and help officers defend themselves during violent outbreaks.”
AFGE has called on BOP and Congress to:
· Issue stab-resistant vests and non-lethal weaponry such as batons and pepper spray to correctional officers. Assaults on officers with homemade weapons have spiked in recent years.
· Fully fund BOP to remedy the serious correctional officer understaffing and prison inmate overcrowding problems that are plaguing the federal prison system.
· Continue the Federal Prison Industries work program. FPI, also known as UNICOR, is an important management tool that federal correctional officers and staff use to deal with the huge increase in the BOP prison inmate population.
A correctional officer can be responsible for supervising as many as 150 to 350 inmates at once. Can the ever-increasing prison population be reduced with the reimplementation of federal parole for nonviolent offenders?
Jones addressed this issue of prison overcrowding when he founded his organization Advocate4Justice, which seeks to reinstate parole. Learn more by loggin on to www.advocate4justice.org.

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