Although many locals lament that we can’t neighborhood-hop as easily as food-focused residents in cities with solid public transport, a veritable explosion of eat- and drinkeries in the more walkable parts of Orlando are not only increasing that walkability, but increasing a desire to linger and live within. In fact, with many districts already named and claimed, developers with an eye for potential are moving in and actually creating the ’hoods—and branding them—from scratch. Now that’s locally made.
by Amy Drew Thompson
The Hourglass District
Foodies, thank your plumbers.
Let fly the wolf whistles. Orlando’s Hourglass District, long bandied-about, is sashaying into the mix of local food havens like Jessica Rabbit in sequins. And sans septic tanks. Which, per the district’s “designers,” was a factor that once stood in the way of this newly minted neighborhood’s creation.
A few years ago, developers Giovanni Fernandez and Elise Sabatino came across an area of Curry Ford they observed to be unique, surrounded by attractive, established neighborhoods and rife with opportunity. They bought up 5 prime acres at the convergence of Curry Ford and Bumby, a footprint that gave them a foothold.
“Our mission was to find ways to restore and repurpose some of the older, charming buildings that existed here,” Sabatino explains. Floundering entities—pawn shops, convenience stores—had had their day. Next up: “Making room for new businesses … and the most exciting part, partnering with other, existing local businesses to create a community atmosphere for the neighborhood to enjoy!”
Sandwiched in the middle: infrastructure—aka those aforementioned septic tanks. All the properties purchased were on them.
“We put together a plan and installed over 1,000 feet of sewer line … and crushed 15 septic tanks in the process [which, she notes, neatly aligned with the city’s environmental improvement initiatives]—this is what really paved the way to bring restaurants into the neighborhood.”
And if you’ve been keeping up with foodie news, it certainly has—from the up, running and still-growing Hourglass Social House to just across the street where F&D Wood-Fired Italian Kitchen is doing swift business. A second location for Lake Mary’s Hourglass Brewing is in the works right next door.
Sabatino won’t play favorites, touting Leguminati’s vegan offerings, Foxtail’s caffeinated zing, the coming brick-and-mortar edition of Tamale Co. and soon-to-open Le Ky Patisserie.
“I do have to say, though, the dark horse that has surprised us with absolutely amazing food is the Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub,” she continues. Sabatino says she knew the pub had a loyal following for its great vibe and live music, but “what we didn’t know was how much emphasis they were going to put on making great food—although they are a pub, they are family-friendly, and the food is authentic and delicious.”