Photo courtesy Wally's Facebook
Like a Mills 50 bat-signal, the familiar neon of beloved Orlando dive bar Wally's will light up the sky again. Wally's Mill's Avenue Liquors
opens its doors this weekend after a lengthy pandemic hibernation with a new team behind the bar and at the wheel (metaphorically on that last part).
Dormant since late March when all nightlife in the city closed, Wally's is back with a grand reopening
this Saturday. At the helm of the bar this time around is Pete Downing of Da Kine Poke along with the Orion Hospitality Group, according to Bungalower
Downing – who also runs Market on Magnolia – and Orion – the ownership group behind Swigg’s Orlando, Fuel Orlando, Nona Social, and Stokes (the artist formerly known as Frosty's Christmastime Lounge) – seem so far to have a grasp on what worked at Wally's, while still moving forward with some changes.
So the jukebox and stiff pours
will be returning, and
there's a patio now in the old parking lot space with a larger one in the planning stages
(but that's just smart thinking during a pandemic) along with other planned build-outs. You still can't smoke indoors anymore, but you can smoke on the patio
Downing and Orion Hospitality will be following in the footsteps of a somewhat polarizing effort to class up and reinvent the dive bar
in June of 2019, with the bar's marketing director saying at the time that neu-Wally's would be like "if the Guesthouse and Will's Pub had a baby."
Despite attracting some new customers, it would seem that the core Mills 50 clientele really didn't want that any of that. Almost immediately, Orlando attorney and OG Wally's supporter John Morgan panned it
, taking to Instagram to say, "They say you can never go back. I‘m afraid it’s true. #RIPWallys." And things never were quite the same.
Can you go back home again, again? Find out when Wally's opens on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 5 p.m.
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