CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!
This week I attended the 10 year anniversary of the Audubon Park Community Market in my neighborhood: The Audubon Park Garden District. The parking lot of Stardust Video and Coffee was jam-packed full of vendors and locals — a beautiful sight to see! This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of when I purchased my home, right here in this neighborhood. As I walked the market I thought about all of the changes I have seen happen over the last 10 years, as well as the changes that are on the horizon. And believe me - this neighborhood is just getting started!
A LOOK BACK
As I look back on the last 10 years, I can think of several very significant things that have been catalysts to the changes I have seen take place here in Audubon Park Garden District.
I purchased my home in 2009. Just before that happened we had 2 major additions to the neighborhood. The Audubon Park Garden District Main Street program was established and Bikes Beans & Bordeaux opened - both in 2008.
The APGD Main Street Program has brought countless improvements to the neighborhood, including beautification, revitalization, economic growth, community events, and so much more. In 2016, APGD was named the Great American Main Street Award winner!
I have volunteered for APGD for years, and the very first tour I ever did was for APGD. I discovered my passion for this line of work because of this amazing district!
Jen and Darrell started Bikes Beans and Bordeaux, or as the locals call it - B3 Cafe, in 2008. They are bike enthusiasts and were searching for a place they could hang out, eat healthy, and would be an enjoyable place for a diverse group of people to gather. They couldn’t find a place like that ten years ago - so they opened B3! When you come to B3 you can expect to find good food, good friends, and if I might say so myself - a great selection of craft beer.
Since I have moved into my house there have been many other significant additions to the neighborhood, most notably, Redlight Redlight and East End Market. Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour first opened in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square back in 2005, but joined us here in APGD (lucky for us) in 2012. The owner, Brent, has a passion for craft beer and it shows with their incredible beer selection. Pairing that with John (manager/neighbor/friend) and the rest of the amazing staff - this has been a huge boon to our little part of Orlando. One year ago they expanded their in-house brewing production and have recently started distributing locally. They are looking to expand their system with more barrels and another fermenter in the very near future! Be sure and order a house beer next time you are in so you can get a taste of one of their unique craft beer creations. (Look for beer printed in red ink on the menu.)
East End Market was started by my friend and high school classmate, John Rife. This market has absolutely changed this neighborhood and I am so proud to see all of the amazing things that John is doing. East End Market is providing an opportunity for small business owners to try out their ideas on a smaller scale by setting up shop in a space at East End. This has brought a wide variety of amazing food into our neighborhood that would have otherwise not had the opportunity to be here. This little market got some major attention recently when Andrew Zimmerman from the Travel Channel came by on what is being affectionately known as an “Apology Tour”. He made a comment about Orlando not having a good food scene - and when the community heard this they made it very clear to Zimmerman that he needed to take a trip down here and see for himself before he made such comments. Not only did he eat some delicious food - but apparently, he ate his words!
If you are involved in the Orlando food truck scene, then you probably know about Bem Bom. Chef Chico is an artist with his food creations and has a huge following of adoring food fans! This past August, he opened up a brick and mortar location on Corrine Drive. The menu is as eclectic as the decor! Chef Chico is always whipping up something new and everything he creates is FANTASTIC! This Portuguese - Mexican restaurant is laid back and the food is fabulous. Bem Bom was a much needed addition to this neighborhood. Even with no advertising and no real signage, this restaurant is packed with locals every day.
A Look Ahead
The past 10 years have brought on a lot of change - but we are on the verge of a lot more. Let me give you a sneak peek at what is on the horizon.
Emily Rankin grew up in Winter Park and has been a major influence in much of what we see in Audubon Park Garden District today. Back before “local organic food” was even a thought in Orlando, Emily was a driving force in bringing these concepts to our town. She was a huge proponent in the farm-to-table movement, most notably with establishing the Audubon Park Monday Night Market. Since it’s establishment, Gabby Lothrop has successfully run the market for the last 10 years, while Emily has been off on many new initiatives. Many of her ideas created the momentum for projects like East End Market and Fleet Farming. If you have been to East End Market then you may have been to her shop, formerly Local Roots, and later Florida & Co. Market and Eatery. This week Emily announced her next brand taking over the space where Florida & Co. was - BIRD OF PARADISE. If you love what she did before - you are going to love her new additions even more!
I love this neighborhood, but one thing I don’t love is that at our main intersection three of the four corners are gas stations. When I found out that the Marathon gas station had closed I was elated! Not because I want a business to fail - but because I can see the future of this neighborhood and where it is going. The instant that I heard it was for sale, I pictured Black Bean Deli and how they converted that gas station into a beautiful place to enjoy good food. I can only hope that something like that is what is going to happen to the Marathon. Since the station closed, the lot has been used by other pop-up businesses, such as food trucks and a car wash. The story I hear is that the owner, Brian Chhu, is not selling the property, but is looking for a new way to develop it. In the meantime, the city has told him that he is not allowed to use the property for other purposes - so we should not be seeing the pop-ups any more. I am very eager to see what comes of this space!
Across the street from the Marathon, you will find Big Daddy’s - Orlando’s best Karaoke bar with Karaoke 7 nights a week! This place is a legend in town and has been around for as long as I can remember, changing owners every few years, but always remaining Big Daddy’s and keeping it a Karaoke bar. The latest news is that it has new owners again and this time they are going to make some serious changes that I am VERY excited about! First and foremost - they are going to make it smoke-free!!! I used to be a regular many years ago, but I honestly just can’t stand the smoke so I stopped going. And I am not able to bring any of my tours to Big Daddy’s because of the thick wall of smoke you have to cut through to get inside. But all of that is going to change once the smoke is gone! Other exciting changes include the addition of an awning that will extend out over their outdoor seating area, as well as an outdoor bar. One of the front windows will be removed and turned into a bar, so that those sitting outside can have bar service. They are also renovating the bathrooms and building a new stage. I for one am looking forward to these fabulous changes! And in case you are wondering - the answer is yes! They are keeping the karaoke!
The only place I have ever taken my car to get serviced is at Gene’s Auto. My friend and neighbor, Marc, took over Gene’s after his father passed away last year. He has done a great job with it, but he has decided that owning this business is not for him. He, and several of the other guys from the shop, are now at Pinto’s Automotive, located at 2410 N Rio Grande. Marc is currently looking for someone who is interested in either purchasing or developing the property. He has had several offers so far, but no one has landed on the right price point for him to be willing to part with it. If you are interested in this prime spot, contact me and I’ll give you more details and introduce you to Marc if your price is right :) This is an incredible opportunity for the right investor. As you can see - this neighborhood is just getting started.
a little controversy
Along with all these changes comes a little bit of controversy. We have three hot topics being debated among neighbors here in APGD at the present moment. Do you care to weigh in on them?
Palmer’s Garden & Goods wants to sell alcohol
a new place to grab a drink
not enough parking, no crosswalk
2. Corrine Drive needs a road diet (reduce down to 2 lanes)
it will increase congestion as there is no other way around
it will slow down traffic
3. Too much parking on residential streets from businesses (East End Market, Bem Bom, Palmer’s)
I want these cars off of my street - my neighborhood has turned into a parking lot!
We are lucky to have these businesses here and yes, it increases parking on our streets, but it is also increasing our property value
Are you FOR or AGAINST? Let us know your thoughts on these hotly debated topics and upcoming changes here in APGD!