After a shooting in downtown Orlando over the weekend that sent seven to the hospital, Mayor Buddy Dyer now plans to increase security measures, and some area business owners say they’re all for it.
What you need to know
- Downtown Orlando may face roadblocks 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 time for city center venues will continue to be 2am
The measures will include controlled entry points, access points to enter parts of the city center and weapons detection dogs, Dyer said.
Some downtown bar owners say what they need is more police presence, with officers on foot walking downtown at night.
Albatros Rexha, who owns Cocina Pizza & Bar, said he is optimistic the additional measures announced by Dyer will help bring more families downtown.
“With Church Street being as isolated as it is these days and not as popular as it used to be, it really lacks the family friendly environment,” he said as he prepared a drink.
Dyer has conveyed the same sentiment since his State of the City address earlier this year, and he said it again Monday.
“We don’t have the right mix of things downtown right now,” he said. “We have more bars than we probably need downtown. It’s definitely a different crowd after 10.”
And both are the crowds Rexha says he’s lucky enough to see: Downtown workers who go for lunch and family meals make up half of his business.
Late-night crowds — those who go out after 10 or 11 p.m. — who come for pizza and bars make up the other half, he said.
“We have chicken wings and tenders here – we’re open late, seven days a week,” said Rexha. “If it’s an event night, we’re open until two in the morning here, making sure everyone’s fed and happy.”
Increased security downtown will probably begin this weekend or next, Dyer said. Business owners like Rexha say they know how important a positive downtown experience is for its employees and customers moving forward.
“They need a comfortable place where they can earn money, pay bills and also feel safe,” he said. “It’s not just for my employees, it’s also for the customer, so it goes both ways.”