Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley of KISS talk Rock & Brews

By Lauren Delgado / www.orlandosentinel.com

Ask KISS frontman Gene Simmons why Rock & Brews, the restaurant he founded with bandmate Paul Stanley, is so popular and the answer is pretty simple.

“The same philosophy that made KISS award-winning is the same for Rock & Brews,” Simmons said during a recent phone interview.

Similar to a KISS concert, the restaurant gives people a reason to leave their homes for a good time, said the bass guitarist and co-lead singer of the hard-rock group known for such hits as “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City.”

Rock & Brews will bring that good time on April 24 to the Lee Vista Promenade shopping center near Orlando International Airport. The rockers will not be at the opening.

The eatery will be Rock & Brews’ second Central Florida spot (a site in Oviedo opened in 2014) and the 20th location worldwide.

“You may not be a rock star, but you sure as hell will feel like one when you come in to our restaurant,” said Simmons.

The restaurant’s expansion wasn’t astonishing, but the speed at which it grew surprised Paul Stanley, the group’s rhythm guitarist and other lead singer. The brand will have 30 outposts by the end of this year.

“It’s not because it’s affiliated or associated with KISS; that is a minimal facet of Rock & Brews,” said Stanley. “Rock & Brews is a gem.”

A father of four, Stanley said he wanted to create a restaurant he could hang out in with his own family and that didn’t serve “cardboard pizza served by a rat.”

“The whole Rock & Brews concept is something that is part of a philosophy of mine,” Stanley said. “If you address your own needs, you address the needs of others.”

Stanley’s main concern was food quality. Themed restaurants are notorious for substandard food, he said.

Rock & Brews serves everything from comfort classics, such as cheeseburgers, to “watch your girlish figure food,” including kale salads, said Simmons. The fare can be washed down with one of the 80-plus craft beers on the menu.

“If you served this food at home, you would have company every night,” Stanley said.

The eatery was designed to be “family-friendly, but a little sexy,” Simmons said. Each restaurant features a number of classic rock favorites through artwork and music videos.

They also wanted to make each restaurant a part of the community, Simmons said, citing the addition of volleyball courts in some locations and heaters for others as examples.

After every opening, a special event is held for veterans and a donation is made to a local veterans-focused nonprofit. One such gathering is planned at the Lee Vista location in August, which Simmons and Stanley hope to attend.

“We pay tribute to the people who make this whole thing possible,” Stanley said.

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