Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors, the popular dive bar known to most regulars as simply Wally’s, has closed. A sign on the door of the freestanding building Tuesday read,
“Dear Customers, It is with great regret that we have decided to close our doors after 64 years in business.” According to some on social media, there were still customers inside drinking when the sign was posted.
The bar, which included a package liquor store, first opened in 1954 by Roy Updike and was known then as Orange Liquors No. 2. (Orange Liquors No. 1’s history may be lost to the ages.) Updike’s son Walter, known as Wally took the business over in the 1970s. Walter Updike died in 2008; his ashes rest in an urn inside.
Late Tuesday morning, fans of the bar were stopping by after hearing the news, saying they wanted to see it for themselves. “It’s a sad day in Orlando,” one man said as he stared at the sign taped to the Mills Avenue-side door. Around the corner, a man leaned out of his VW to snap a photo on the door on the parking lot side.
Wally’s was known as a no-nonsense drinking bar — see reference above to people drinking early Tuesday morning. It was cramped, always smoky, the papered walls yellow with nicotine. The drinks were legendarily potent. The bartenders — mostly women — were wary of newcomers but like family with regulars. Most had worked there many years.
And a lot of the customers had been going there for years. Orlando attorney John Morgan was a regular. He posted on his Facebook page that he may look into buying the property.
Calls to Wally’s phone number went unanswered.