Closing Time Comes to Red Door With Plenty to Reflect On

By Victoria Bardega

What started as a profound love for creative culinary experiences growing up led restauranter Richard DeAngelis into planting his brick-and-mortar dream into Lakeland’s soil. For the last 15 years, Red Door brought a uniquely intimate gastropub for locals to enjoy––from the launch of craft spirits to its exquisite tasting menu. The restaurant’s vibrant variety and intentional partnership with local vendors created what DeAngelis called a “scratch kitchen that brings fine dining—not a place like this around.” 

Earlier this month, DeAngelis announced its closure. After having survived the pandemic’s economic impact thanks to support of locals, DeAngelis shared a shift in his personal journey that contributed to the decision to close permanently.

“The thing I love about Lakeland is the community,” he admits, and he attributes this same community for being the biggest takeaway from his experience as a business owner in Polk County for almost two decades. “I think of the people, but I also think of the families. During my tenure, I watched our restaurant serve as the pinnacle for so many special occasions, from proposals to receptions. We were part of making moments worth having at Red Door.”

During my tenure, I watched our restaurant serve as the pinnacle for so many special occasions, from proposals to receptions. We were part of making moments worth having at Red Door.” – Richard DeAngelis

Since 2009, DeAngelis and his staff prided their restaurant space as a local hot spot with no TVs or unnecessary distractions so guests could focus on looking at the face of the guest(s) they’re with. From offering a variety of craft beer and wine to locally produced food items, DeAngelis kept his culinary space local-centric by using local ingredients to build recipes from scratch.

“It started when I was a kid. My mom was a single mom for most of my young childhood,” he shares.“On the weekends, we would go to my grandparents’ house, and going out to eat was a big deal. I loved to get dressed up and go with my family. I got to go to a lot of cool restaurants that not a lot of kids probably went to.”

DeAngelis and his staff have been immensely grateful following the closure for the positive responses of community members, many who have consistently shown up to support the business––such as the guys of the round table. Fellow patrons who became regulars for the Red Door ended up leaving a meaningful impact on DeAngelis that would lead to an exploration of his faith. 

He shares: “I grew up Catholic and always had a strong sense of God. Yet I never had a full understanding of Jesus or the Bible.”

“I met people who asked me some very simple questions that I couldn’t get out of my mind. I went after those answers,” DeAngelis reflects. “If you’re going to be any kind of restauranterer, you have to be self-aware. You have to be able to understand who your environment is and where you’re going. If you can’t help yourself, then how can you help others?” 

Looking to the future, visionary DeAngelis hopes to stick around Lakeland to offer encouragement and help to his community at-large. 

“I want to be here, and I want to help make a difference,” he says. 

While the building is in the process of being sold to new ownership, he is hopeful for what’s to come next for the beautifully quaint historic bungalow that served as his culinary home. 

“It’s exciting and what I will say is it’s going to be impactful [to our city] when it does open,” he confirms. 

New ownership is set to release further information regarding the future plans for the space. DeAngelis is making himself available to assist Red Door staff in finding new career opportunities and ventures, while DeAngelis said he is stepping into a new season focusing on caring for his family.