Restauranteur with magic touch taking over after Guy Fieri’s flop in The Villages

Former location of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar at Lake Sumter Landing.

A Villages restauranteur with a stellar track record of success is opening a new restaurant in a Lake Sumter Landing location with a history of failures.

Fred Karimipour, owner of FMK Restaurant Group, is planning to open Chop House in Lake Sumter Landing in late spring. The restaurant’s specialty will be a variety of aged prime steaks, while seafood and sandwiches also will be offered.

“We’re excited,” Karimipour said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re going to do some major renovations and make it a really special place.”

Bluefin Grill & Bar owner Fred Karimipour speaks with some of his guests recently at the Brownwood restaurant.

Karimipour is well known in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown as the owner of several other highly successful eateries, including Evans Prairie Country Club, Belle Glade Country Club, Bonifay Country Club, Orange Blossom Hills Country Club, Scooples Ice Cream Parlor and the recently opened Bluefin Grill & Bar in Brownwood. He said he’s received many favorable comments about Bluefin and is really happy that Villagers enjoy eating at his restaurants.

“I’m humbled,” Karimipour said. “I walk around the dining room and I hear the comments and some of the things people are saying are extremely kind and very encouraging. There’s so much graciousness from them, so the only word I can use to describe it is humbleness.”

Bluefin opened for business in mid-September and Karimipour said he’s thrilled with the way things have progressed at the popular restaurant. But he said he’s excited about this next challenge and he wouldn’t be able to open another restaurant so quickly without a great team – some whom have been with him more than 20 years.

Congressman Daniel Webster and Villages restauranteur Fred Karimipour at the 2017 Lincoln Day dinner.

“I am thankful for the ability God has given me to see the best in people,” said Karimipour, who is celebrating 40 years in the restaurant business. “My goal and objective is to help people live to their fullest potential.”

Opening the new Lake Sumter Landing restaurant won’t mark the first time Karimipour has taken over a failing venture and made it successful. Two other restaurants – Las Tapas and Bavarian Brewhaus – already had failed at the Bluefin location in Brownwood. And in November 2014 he breathed life back into the failed Orange Blossoms Hills Country Club.

Restauranteur Fred Karimipour plans to do major renovations inside the old Guy Fieri’s American Bar and Grill before opening Chop Shop at Lake Sumter Landing in late spring.

As for the Lake Sumter Landing location where Karimipour plans to work his latest round of magic, it has seen three restaurants come and go. Multiple issues with Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar proved that carrying a celebrity’s name wasn’t enough to keep an establishment open in The Villages. A recent Villages-News.com restaurant review cited issues with service and the food. Customers also were known to complain about the service and some of the food items. And at least one rowdy customer left the establishment in handcuffs earlier this year after a pair of 911 calls were placed by customers from the eatery.

That same building, located in a prime spot next to the highly popular Barnes & Noble, also housed failed ventures Honest John’s Whiskey and Provisions and TGI Fridays. So to some Villagers it seemed quite odd that other nearby restaurants such as Cody’s Original Roadhouse, VKI Japanese Steakhouse, RJ Gator’s, Johnny Rockets and City Fire American Oven and Bar are known to be highly successful and appear to do a booming business seven days a week. But that just wasn’t the case for the failed establishments in the location many thought would be the best available in the bustling Lake Sumter Landing area when it was first built.

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