Downtown Orlando business owners hope for safer nights

After a shooting in downtown Orlando over the weekend that sent seven to the hospital, Mayor Buddy Dyer now plans to add security measures, and some area business owners say they are in for.

what you need to know

  • Checkpoints in Downtown Orlando could open as early as Friday after seven people were injured in a weekend shooting
  • Downtown business owners say they want to see more police on foot at night
  • Closing hours for Downtown Bar will be 2 PM

Dyer said the measures would include controlled entry points, access points for entering parts of the city and gun-detection dogs.

Some downtown bar owners say they need more police presence, with officers walking around town at night.

Albatros Rexa, owner of Cocina Pizza & Bar, said he is optimistic that the additional measures announced by Dior will help bring more families to the city.

“Church Street is as secluded as it is today and not as popular as it used to be, it really lacked a lot of friendly family atmosphere,” he said while preparing a drink.

Dyer has been channeling the same sentiment since his State of the City address earlier this year, and said it once again on Monday.

“We just don’t have the right mix of city stuff,” he said. “We probably have more bars than the city needs. It’s definitely a different crowd after 10 pm.”

And it’s both crowds. Rexha says she’s lucky enough to see this: Downtown workers who go to lunch and family meals make up half of her business.

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The late-night crowd — which leaves after 10 or 11 p.m. — is the other half coming to the pizza and bar munchies, he said.

“We have chicken wings and tenders here – we open late seven days a week,” Rexha said. “If it’s an event night, we stay here until two in the morning, making sure everyone is fed and happy.”

Dyer said the city’s start to increase security measures would likely begin later this week or next week. Business owners like Rexa say they know how important a positive city experience is for both their employees and customers.

“They need a place that is comfortable, where they can earn money, pay their bills, and feel secure,” he said. “It’s not just for my employees, it goes for the customer as well, so it’s both ways.”