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Friday, June 14, 2024

New Italian restaurant taking over iconic Ocala spot that closed after 50 years

Franco s Italian Restaurant in Ocala
Franco’s Italian Restaurant is working on its new location in Ocala, Florida. (Staff photo)

An Italian restaurant hopes to breathe new life into a space that formerly housed an iconic Ocala restaurant for over 50 years.

Franco’s Italian Restaurant is currently under construction at 1801 E Silver Springs Boulevard in the Ocala Center shopping plaza.

Owned by Franco Esposito, the new restaurant will serve “authentic Italian” cuisine when it opens at the beginning of August. The restaurant will not offer liquor, but will serve beer and wine.

Franco's Italian Restaurant is under buildout at the Ocala Center shopping plaza on East Silver Springs Boulevard.
The interior dining room at Franco’s Italian Restaurant is under construction. (Photo: Franco’s)

Franco’s will replace Lorito’s Italian Kitchen, which was sold in 2019 and closed its restaurant last summer after 53 years in operation.

In recent weeks, the restaurant has reported that the iconic wine bottle-shaped sign that sits adjacent to East Silver Springs Boulevard must be removed because it is too close to the roadway, according to city ordinance.

Lorito's iconic candle sign along East Silver Springs Boulevard
Lorito’s iconic sign along East Silver Springs Boulevard (Staff photo)

Esposito is hoping the owner of the property will preserve the sign and pass it along to the Lorito family, according to a statement issued by the business.

Franco’s Italian Restaurant will join multiple other restaurants that have broken into the east Ocala restaurant scene over the past year: