01/14/2015

KISS opens Oviedo's Rock & Brews restaurant

By Allison Walker, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor

Oviedo has new rock-star status.

KISS frontmen Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have opened their very first East Coast Rock & Brews restaurant. The rock legends held a special luncheon for more than 100 veterans, wounded warriors and active military, followed by a meet-and-greet.

In between sips of brew and bites of beignets, we chatted with the two, who could charm the pants off a barstool:

ALLISON WALKER: So, Paul, if I were to eat just two things at Rock & Brews, what should I pick?

PAUL STANLEY: Ah, me! Um, actually, all of the food is just off the hook! The fish tacos are great. There's great protein, great salmon, great mahi mahi. There are 56 beers on tap, including a lot of local breweries, and then another 80 beers.

We tried to set something up that would be an homage to classic rock. But this isn't any other place, where you might see some rock stars' pajamas hanging on the wall. This isn't that kind of place. This is a very cool, hip place where you can have a great meal and hang out with your friends.

AW: Gene, I do something called Chef's Kitchen…

GENE SIMMONS: In front of everybody?

AW: I do, and it's the sexiest dish that a restaurant has to offer. So, at Rock & Brews, that would be what?

GS: It's the beignet. It's pastry, and it's chewy and crispy. You have to put it in your mouth. It's got powdered sugar, a little caramel sauce, and then when you bite into it, hot chocolate squirts into your mouth.

AW: I'm envisioning you both in the test kitchen, getting down and dirty with the food. Yeah?

PS: Yeah! If I wouldn't eat it, why should you? So, I really make sure everything is top flight. The food here could be on fancy china at another restaurant where you'd wear a suit and tie. But this isn't about that.

GS: We want to make sure that people here in Oviedo know that Scott, who's our general manager here, lives here, sends his kids to school here. So, there's a real commitment to community. It's a local place.

AW: You know a thing or two about business, as KISS has what, 3,000 licenses of KISS branding?

GS: Yeah, we have over time. But, honestly, sooner or later, it comes down to quality, not quantity. So, we've been [scaling] back quite a bit, and the things we want to be involved with are terrific things, as opposed to huge numbers.

[To Allison, arm still around her] It's very hard to talk to you when I'm this close to you.

AW: And speaking of fabulous feelings, I have to know about this KISS Kruise.

GS: Yes, every Halloween. This is going to be our fifth, I think, KISS Kruise. Relationships are made, relationships are broken, babies are born there. Every room comes with its own pole, so you can [imagine]…

PS: The KISS Kruise is really crazy. I mean, [in 2014] we had over 3,000 fans from over 33 countries. It's nuts. We're really, really proud of it.

AW: Some people might not have known this, but Paul, you were the Phantom in a sold-out run? That is so rad.

PS: I was. I was Phantom of the Opera and had to audition in New York. They said, "You're it!" They sent me up to Toronto, where the show had run 10 years, and I was the final Phantom up there.

I don't want to have rock 'n' roll define who I am. I want to define what rock 'n' roll is. I want to do exactly what I want to do, and that's what rock 'n' roll is supposed to be. It's not about living by the rules. So, if somebody says, "Why do you have a restaurant?" Because I can!

Meanwhile, Gene does the tongue thing for Allison. Yep, it's a must-see. For that visual — and for language we weren't allowed to air on TV — Click here to watch the extended interviews in the VIDEO section.

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