Universal Orlando Is Opening a Today Show Cafe Based on Al Roker's 'Favorite Recipes'
"People eat breakfast with us, and we eat a lot of food on the show, so it’s just a natural fit," Roker says.
There’s a new place to wake up and smell the coffee during your next Orlando theme park vacation.
Universal Orlando Resort has announced that its new TODAY Cafe will open to the public starting Thursday, May 16. The new establishment is located in Universal Studios, the resort’s original theme park, and will be themed around the NBC morning show. The press release describes it as a “highly-themed environment” that is “designed to feel like stepping onto the iconic Today show set,” according to a press release.
Today co-anchor Al Roker had a hand in designing the menu, with seasonal dishes “inspired by [his] favorite recipes.” Roker tells PEOPLE that “reflect the spirit of New York,” with items like The Carnegie Platter (a piled-high sandwich in the style of Manhattan’s historic Carnegie Deli, which closed its doors in 2016), the Mulberry Street Italian Platter, and the Chinatown Chicken Salad.
“I always thought we should have a presence in the park, but I don’t think anyone would want to go on a Today show ride,” says Roker. “This cafe makes sense because people eat breakfast with us, and we eat a lot of food on the show, so it’s just a natural fit.”
Roker, who recently lost 40 lbs. on the Keto diet, also notes that the restaurant will have plenty of healthy options like acai bowls and his special “Al’s Avocado Toast” with cherry tomatoes, red onion, artichokes and tomato aioli (Roker says he makes it for himself without the bread to make it “keto-friendly”).
Roker hopes the cafe will cater to guests who don’t want to derail their diet in the parks. “You may use it as an excuse—’Ahh, I’m on vacation. What the heck?’—but then you’re off track and it’s hard to get back on,” he says. “So my thing is, strive to do as well as you can, and then when you get back home you really bear down.”
“Universal has really, in the last five years, gone deep into being healthier,” he adds. “They’re being a lot more interesting, and sourcing more local, high-quality food.”
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The news comes shortly after Universal’s announcement of Bigfire, a new campfire-themed restaurant opening this summer that will open on the Universal Citywalk this summer in the space where Emeril’s was previously located.
Bigfire will aim to provide a unique open-kitchen experience with a large wood fire grill at the center of the dining room that allows customers to watch their food being cooked from any table in the restaurant.