Ace Cafe, the downtown Orlando mega bar and restaurant that emphasized loud motorcycles and louder music, announced its closing over the Memorial Day weekend. The restaurant, at 100 W. Livingston St., opened almost exactly six years ago in the former Harry P. Leu building.
The Orlando location was based, loosely, on a venue in London that became popular with young people during World War II who would ride their motorbikes to the remote bar to listen to one of the few juke boxes in England. (For my review, in June 2017, I visited both the just-opened Ace Cafe Orlando and the one in London, near Wembley stadium, within a week of each other.)
The Orlando Ace Cafe was the first of what was expected to be several that would open as part of a North America franchise. The Ace Cafe website lists no other North American locations; other Aces are in Finland, Beijing and Luzern.
In my review, I noted that the Orlando venue was huge and that a lot of money had obviously been spent on it, unusual for a business outside the tourist corridor. Unlike the London original – which opened in 1938, was destroyed in an air raid two years later, reopened after the war, closed again in 1969 and reopened in 2001 – the Orlando Ace was a full service restaurant with a large stage for live acts and a spacious dance floor.
No reason was given for the closing, which was announced on social media, but one might wonder if there might be new construction coming soon on the site that would make better use of the prime downtown space.
Porkie’s Original BBQ in Apopka has also closed. Steve White, who has owned the restaurant for 20 years, announced the closing on Facebook Tuesday morning. White, who opened the restaurant on Feb. 8, 2003, the same month and day that he opened Race Rock on International Drive in 1996, also did not give a reason for the closing. But in April he posted that the restaurant would be closed on an upcoming weekend because there was “no staff to run the store.”
SoDough Square, the very good Detroit-style pizzeria that opened last year on Michigan Street in the SoDo District, will open a second location in Winter Park as early as next month. The owners will convert the space previously held by their other brand, Tin & Taco, on Fairbanks Avenue.
The nascent Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, the high-end wine event sponsored by the Orlando Magic, will move to a new venue in 2024. The first three years, which were not concurrent due to the pandemic, were at the Ritz-Carlton. Next year, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, a place with one too many resorts in its name, will play host.