Mickey, move over. Orlando isn’t a one-mouse town anymore. The dawn of a new era is taking place in this renowned Central Florida locale, as a young, vibrant city, teeming with a sophisticated demographic emerges. Metro Orlando is projected to be one of the fastest-growing regions in this decade with a population of 1.8 million as of today. In fact, Orlando is attracting a younger demo with a median age of 36.2. That’s below the state of Florida’s median age of 39.5.
In addition to the residential explosion taking place, over 53 million visitors a year enter Orlando for business and/or pleasure. Orlando is second only to Las Vegas in convention business, and is poised to be the next Los Angeles of the East Coast. Offering a temperate climate, affordable cost of living and plenty of business opportunities, Orlando is capturing the attention of busi¬nesses and year-round residents alike. What this means for real estate and restaurants is monumental.
This kind of growth adds up to what is known as a “boom town.” Where there are affluent residents with disposable incomes, coupled with families on vacation and business people with expense accounts, you can assure yourself there is room for great profitability — and savvy restaurateurs are taking note. As the number one destination — internationally — for “mouseketeers” and conventioneers, Orlando is a natural fit for Taverna Opa, a Greek-themed concept restaurant that features tabletop dancing and authentic Greek cuisine in a party-fun atmo¬sphere, scheduled to open August 2007.
Located in the center of Pointe of Orlando, Taverna Opa will occupy retail space of ap¬proximately 6,000 square feet, featuring a large patio and located on the popular International Drive directly across from the Orange County Convention Center. Pointe of Orlando has become one of the hottest “eatertainment” developments in the country with neighbors like Capitol Grille, The Grape, Tommy Bahamas and Maggiano’s. In the Orlando office of The Prakas Group, Inc., sales agent Maria Bonomo finds that the growing need for high-occupancy restaurants is being met through complexes such as Pointe of Orlando that offer open-air dining, shopping and entertainment.
Restaurateur Peter Tsialiamanis established Taverna Opa in 1998. Taverna Opa offers an affordable family-style or a la carte menu with an array of traditional Greek mezes (appetizers), entrees, desserts and a full bar generously stocked with ouzo. The restaurant features nightly ethnic music and Greek belly dancers. Taverna Opa has four locations presently operating in Florida: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Taverna Kyma in Boca Raton, which is a similar concept but without the tabletop dancing. Future sites scheduled to open are in Las Vegas, NV; City Place in West Palm Beach, FL; Kansas City, MO; and, of course, Orlando, FL.
The Taverna Opa phenomenon is a concept perfectly positioned for a market like Orlando, which caters to the increasing desires of a younger clientele with a penchant to eat out, rather than dine at home. Having guided Taverna Opa’s expansion as its exclu¬sive broker nationwide, The Prakas Group has placed Taverna Opa restaurants into high-volume, high-profile locations across the United States. It’s working, because Taverna Opa’s existing units are some of the country’s highest grossing (per square foot) restaurants in the U.S.
The story of Orlando’s continued growth is one that retailers, restaurants and hospitality businesses will want to pay close attention to if they are considering entering a market that shows no signs of slowing down. Mickey, of course, we want you to stay, but get ready for more choices — the menu of Orlando attractions is expanding.
Athan “Tom” Prakas is President/broker of The Prakas Group, Inc. located in Boca Raton and Orlando, FL, the largest restaurant/hospitality brokerage firm in Florida.
The Prakas Group, Inc. is responsible for notable restaurant transactions including Taverna Opa, Vic &Angelo’s and DeVito’s in Miami. Prakas recently opened RPG — Restaurant Placement Group — a recruiting firm for the restaurant/hospitality business. For more information, contact The Prakas Group at (561) 368-0003 in Boca Raton, (407) 855-1221 in Orlando, or visit the company’s website at www.prakasgroup.com.
Central Florida Restaurant Forum // April/May 2007