Google PlusFacebookTwitter


Welcome to Downtown South

Posted by on 3:32 pm in Home | Comments Off on Welcome to Downtown South

Welcome to Downtown South

DS-aerialDowntown South, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, was established in the Fall of 2008 by a group of local residents, small business owners, and representatives of the medical community and the city government. These stakeholders recognized the potential of Downtown South, and they recognized the important role that neighborhood commercial districts play in providing economic stability, identity, vitality, and most importantly, providing a sense of place to residents.

WinniePalmerDowntown South offers an opportunity to all—residents, business owners, and members of the medical community to have an impact on the future of their community.

Through The Orlando Main Street Program, districts receive financial and technical assistance and intensive training in the Main Street 4-Point approach (Design, Economic Restructuring, Organization and Promotion). Each Main Street organization hires a full time Executive Director, raises matching funds, incorporates its organization and implements its programs according to an annual work plan.

Engine5-firestationGoals for Downtown South Main Street include: creating a comprehensive vision for Orange and Michigan Avenues that includes streetscape and walkable destinations;  supporting existing businesses and attracting new retail opportunities that meet the needs of residents and visitors; bringing all stakeholders together to work effectively for a vibrant community; and providing special events and activities to highlight local businesses, restaurants, and talent in the community.

Light Up SoDo 2016

Posted by on 9:41 am in Events, Home, News | Comments Off on Light Up SoDo 2016


Tell us you’re going on Facebook

Light Up SoDo on Facebook

Volunteer for Light Up SoDo:

Volunteer for Light Up SoDo

Would you like to reach residents and businesses in the Downtown South District?
Light Up SoDo is your opportunity to get face time with potential customers AND support your community.  See below for sponsorship opportunities for this free family fun filled event!

After 3 strong years at Lake Beauty, our annual Light Up event is moving to the Sodo shopping plaza for the biggest event yet!

Light Up SoDo
Sponsorship Opportunities

FULL PACKET Light Up Downtown South Partnership Opportunities co

Download Sponsorship packet here:


Downtown South WINstagram

Posted by on 11:45 pm in Home, News | Comments Off on Downtown South WINstagram

Downtown South WINstagram

Hey Instagrammers!  Here’s your chance to win some really fun prizes just for being familiar with Downtown South icons.  Here’s the deal:

If you’re the first person to correctly guess the Downtown South hot spot, you will win an awesome prize.  Prizes include:

It’s that easy!  The Downtown South WINstagram contest kicked off in August and the winner posted the location of the photo below within seconds so if you know the answer, be sure to post quickly for your chance to win.

Know where the August Downtown South WINstagram image was from?  If you guessed Foreign Accents, you were right!  Congrats to Instagram user @sunflowers_and_wine for the win!

Be sure to check your inbox for the prompt and your chance to win.  Good luck!

The Best Sweet Tea In Town (Editorial)

Posted by on 5:03 pm in Home | Comments Off on The Best Sweet Tea In Town (Editorial)


I love sweet tea! I could happily walk away from this post right now just knowing I typed that first sentence. There’s a problem with loving sweet tea though. A problem that drives me crazy every time I come across it. The problem is… most places don’t make good sweet tea.

I’m not talking about a regular tea with one packet of sugar. I’m not talking about anything with sweet & low in it, and I think sweet & low should be banned from any table I’m sitting at. Nope! I’m referring to that incredibly sweet, sweet tea that makes your eyes widen up on the first sip, and your work day suddenly speed up. The tea so sweet, you question whether you should schedule your next dental cleaning a week early. The best part is I know where to find such a sweet tea.

Drive on Michigan Street, and you’ll see the parking lot to Bakery Plus full or filling up throughout the day. Whether it’s students grabbing a bite after class, or people making mid-morning snack runs (that’s what I do!), Bakery Plus is well known by many local to the neighborhood. For as many people who know about Bakery Plus, I’m surprised by the number of people who don’t. So let me just say, “BEST SWEET TEA IN TOWN.”

As I previously mentioned, one packet of sugar is not enough, and putting sweet & low in your tea is inhumane. The heartbreak really comes when no one tells you that their sweet tea comes from the same fountain where soda is dispensed. Typically, the preferred way of having sweet tea would be from a separate container where the restaurant was brewing both sweet and unsweet, separately. Bakery Plus takes its greatness one step further. Every cup of sweet tea at Bakery Plus is individually brewed fresh, and comes with the individual tea bag in the cup. If you’re one of those people who says things like “that’s too sweet”, first, SHAME ON YOU! Second, you can request that they hold off on the sugar, and they’ll make your fresh brew to your liking.

As I make a ridiculously excited expression on my face, let me say that this is what sweet tea is made of. I posted on a local community page on Facebook about how good their sweet tea is, and no one tried to top it by saying “oh, you should got to…” such and such because theirs is good too. Nope! It went undisputed.

Do you know what goes good with sweet tea? Food! You know who has good food? Bakery Plus. They have doughnuts, bagels, sandwiches, bottled beverages, and a good number of other tasty items. My personal favorite is the sausage, egg, and cheese on blueberry bagel. The blueberry bagel is… BLUE!

Being happy with the food is one thing, but the price is just as great. For $4.70, I can walk out with the bagel sandwich of my choice, and the large sweet tea that I’ll brag about to anyone. They do have a lunch special that includes a sandwich, drink, and choice of doughnut or chips, but I stick to my favorite.  That lunch special is only $4.99, so if you’re looking for a lunch special, there you go.

If you know about Bakery Plus already, good, go get some sweet tea and have a nice day. If you haven’t tried Bakery Plus yet, that’s cool too; you should also get some sweet tea and have a nice day. :-)

Sidenote: The photos were taken by Richard at Bakery Plus, except for the one of the cup. That was me. I just wanted to show off the cup.

Cardboard Art Festival: From An Artist’s Perspective

Posted by on 2:20 pm in News | Comments Off on Cardboard Art Festival: From An Artist’s Perspective

Cardboard Art Festival: From An Artist’s Perspective


To be honest, we’re using the term “artist” loosely.  Hello!  My name is Leah Nash, I’m the current Chairperson for the Downtown South Board of Directors, as well as a Downtown South resident.  This year, I submitted a proposal called “Peace, Love, and Kitty Cats” to show in the 4th Annual Cardboard Art Festival {produced by The Daily City} and was pleasantly surprised when my proposal was selected.


Until I realized that I would actually have to create this gigantic piece of art, made entirely of cardboard, in just three short weeks. Never did I think that I would consider cardboard so frequently, but here I was nonetheless.  I began collecting cardboard every where I went. I was {again} pleasantly surprised at how generous people were with giving me their cardboard.  In fact, thank you to the following companies for “sponsoring” my first art installment:

Columbia Street StudiosCommunity Acupuncture of OrlandoIn Bloom FloristGo Big Marketing, and Total Wine and More

After the Pulse tragedy, it was important to me to frequent as many Downtown South businesses that were closed by the investigation as possible.  I’m happy to say that 100% of supplies purchased for “Peace, Love, and Kitty Cats” were made at our local Toole’s Ace Hardware store.  If you have ever shopped there, you know how friendly and helpful the staff is and my DAILY visits there for my cardboard art piece were no exceptions.  I’m actually selling “Peace, Love, and Kitty Cats” for the exact amount that it cost me to make, which is $112.01.


I was also very happy that the Cardboard Art Festival was hosted by Sodo Shopping Center, which is literally less than a mile from my house AND right across the street from my new favorite place, Ace Hardware {yes!  Ace IS the place!}.  With it being so close, I could easily transport pieces back and forth, as well as work in the space.  With my installment being so large {one piece is over 6′ tall}, it was nice to have large space available to me.

The 4th Annual Cardboard Art Festival is being held July 22 – 31 at the Sodo Shopping Center, next to TJ Maxx.  Click here for a schedule of events and gallery hours.  Every single piece of art is made entirely of cardboard.  There are tiny pieces all the way up to large installments, like mine.  “Peace, Love, and Kitty Cats” is a three-piece interactive installment.  Please stop by during gallery hours to check it out, try some of the pieces on {there are Cat Hats!}, and snap some pics.  If you post your pics, please use #PeaceLoveandKittyCats . Cardboard Art Festival is using the following: #cardboardisawesome and #cardboardartfest2016 .  You can also find Cardboard Art Festival on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Hope to see you there!

Here’s a sneak peak of “Peace, Love, and Kitty Cats”:

IMG_7765 IMG_7791 IMG_7650

Here are some progress pics:
IMG_7752 IMG_7703 IMG_7761

Nightly Closures on Division Avenue

Posted by on 11:41 am in Home, News | Comments Off on Nightly Closures on Division Avenue

Nightly Closures on Division Avenue

(Click image to enlarge)

division closure 2

Recovery Resources

Posted by on 11:55 am in Home, News | Comments Off on Recovery Resources

Recovery Resources

Downtown South, a 501c3 Orlando Main Street organization, has organized this guide. It is intended to be a comprehensive collection of currently available resources for locally affected businesses and employees of the Pulse tragedy. If you know of available resources that are not listed here, please email with information. Updated 6/28/16.



Newsletter Graphics Long (2)

The Business Recovery Center will be opening assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations in applying for low-interest disaster loans. The loans are available due to the SBA disaster declaration as a result of the Pulse attack on June 12, 2016.

Located at:

Beardall Senior Center
800 Delaney Avenue

Opens: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 8 a.m.
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed: Weekends and Monday, July 4 in recognition of Independence Day

SBA’s Customer Service Center: 800-659-2955 (800-877- 8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing);

Loan applications can be downloaded from Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at


florida disaster loan

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program has been activated to provide a source of rapid cash flow to small businesses in Orange County that have been physically and/or economically impacted by the Pulse shooting.

These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.

The Emergency Bridge Loan Program is not designed to be the primary source of assistance to affected small businesses, which is why eligibility is linked to pursuit of other sources. PLEASE NOTE: this program provides a short-term loan of State of Florida public funds, not a grant, with the expectation that repayment will be made out of receipts from other sources of longer term disaster recovery assistance.

For questions regarding administration of the Emergency Bridge Loan Program as well as instructions for application submissions, please contact the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Central Florida at (407) 420-4850.



The Orange County Family Services Department provides rent and/or utility assistance for Orange County residents who need help paying their rent or utilities due to circumstances beyond their control. Orange County will provide one month’s rent or utility assistance to any Orange County residents who work at one of the businesses that have been closed due to the shooting. Please call 407-836-6514 to request assistance.

Pulse Area Employees Flyer_6-23-16




 OUAC logo

The City of Orlando in partnership with Orange County Government, has opened the Orlando United Assistance Center (OUAC) to serve as a navigation point to assess the needs, provide information, support and resources to those directly affected by the Pulse tragedy.

Culturally-experienced representatives from the Hispanic and LGBT communities will be available.

Everyone impacted by the tragedy will be helped. This center will provide long-term support and assistance to those in need.

To ensure families and individuals are provided the one-on-one support they need, an appointment is recommended.


There are TWO WAYS to make your appointment for personalized service.

  1. Call 407.500.HOPE
  2. Fill out the intake form (click here)


Thursday, June 23, 3 – 8 p.m.
Friday, June 24, 3 – 8 p.m.

Regular hours begin Monday, June 27
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


507 East Michigan Street
Orlando, FL 32806
Corner of Osceola Avenue and East Michigan Street
Fax: 407.245.0389


Downtown South Works Towards Recovery

Posted by on 11:50 pm in Home, News | Comments Off on Downtown South Works Towards Recovery

Downtown South Works Towards Recovery

Open Letter To Orlando Community:

The Downtown South community is deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that occurred to our neighbor Pulse Orlando on June 12th in Downtown South.  Our hearts go out to everyone affected.  Words cannot describe the sympathy that we feel or the hole that has been left in our community.   We are overcome with support that is coming from all over the world.

We cannot explain why this terrible tragedy happened but we can tell you one thing:  WE ARE STLL HERE.  We are here to support our businesses and residents, our city, and our community.  We are not going anywhere.

We can also tell you what we are planning on doing next.    In this time of incredibly painful human tragedy, we are faced with a potential economic catastrophe for our local member businesses.  Downtown South Main Street is forming an engaged coalition to develop a revitalization strategy that ensures the vibrancy of our local community.  Although Downtown South has been on the ground supporting our businesses, this coalition will work together on developing and executing strategies to help our business, residents, and community members in any way that we can from events and campaigns, to informing the community of resources, and more.

We humbly ask for the support of the Orlando community.  Several Downtown South businesses have been severely economically impacted by the Pulse tragedy.  Although there are city, state, and federal resources available, we do not fully know yet the impact on our businesses and their employees.  We ask that you do not turn your backs on these businesses.  Frequent them as much as possible by dining at our restaurants, shopping at our stores, and using Downtown South services.

Lastly, we want to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for supporting Downtown South. It is clear that Orlando is united and strong.  We will not back down.  We will not allow this tragedy to diminish our community.

Please click here a list of affected businesses.

Downtown South Board of Directors

Business Outreach Meeting Friday, June 24

Posted by on 7:03 pm in Events, News, Past Events | Comments Off on Business Outreach Meeting Friday, June 24

Business Outreach Meeting Friday, June 24

Downtown South is working with non-profit and government partners to centralize information about resources and assistance available for businesses and employees affected by the economic impacts of the Pulse tragedy.

06-24-16 pulse recovery flyer

When: Friday, June 24 | 8am
Where: Hampton Inn, 43 Columbia St | adjacent to Orlando Health


  • 8:00AM — Welcome (Sarah Elbadri, Executive Director, Downtown South Main Street)
  • How SCORE can Help (Lois Perry, Chair of SCORE Orlando)
  • Resources available at the National Entrepreneur Center (Jerry Ross, President of NEC)
  • How Micro lending can help (Adriana Contreras, Accion East)
  • Federal/State Economic Recovery Assistance Programs (DEO/FSBDC/FDEM)
  • Resources for employees who were unable to work during tragedy (Dianne Arnold, Orange County)
  • Resources and tips for managing employees after tragedy occurs (Susan Allen, ARS)
  • Sales Building – Panel Discussion (SCORE)
  • How can we help you? (Interactive conversation with business owners and resource providers)
  • 10:30AM — Adjourn


It’s time to rally! Downtown South’s local businesses need your support

Posted by on 7:12 am in Home, News | Comments Off on It’s time to rally! Downtown South’s local businesses need your support

It’s time to rally! Downtown South’s local businesses need your support

The response to the tragedy at Pulse has made every Orlandoan prouder to call the City Beautiful home. The unity and love the city has fought back with has been an inspiration to the world.

Still, this event has rocked 49 families, and enormous ripple effects are being felt throughout a fabric of connected communities. As a well-established Main Street program, Downtown South is particularly focused on the impact this is having on our local business community.

Businesses south of downtown Orlando have been significantly impacted by the closure of Orange Ave. In the face of tragedy, many of these businesses showed incredible generosity to first responders, victim’s families, and the media. All have demonstrated patience for the thorough federal investigation.

Still some businesses have been closed for nearly a third of the month. As Orange Ave slowly reopens, it is our responsibility to  ensure these businesses, representing families throughout Central Florida, recover.

In response to every call to action since the tragedy, from donating blood to fundraising for victim’s families, Orlando has stepped up and exceeded every expectation. Now Downtown South is asking that Orlando come together once more and rally behind these local businesses.

Below is a list of businesses that have ben directly affected by the S. Orange Ave Road closure. However, it is important to emphasize that this closure has touched the entire area, not just the businesses lining Orange Ave. Please consider patronizing more Downtown South businesses, including those in the Sodo plaza and located on side streets off of Orange Ave.

MID SIZE DSO_Logo copy copy

State of Emergency Business Assistance Information

Posted by on 10:49 am in Home, News | Comments Off on State of Emergency Business Assistance Information

State of Emergency Business Assistance Information

This communication is from the City of Orlando regarding business assistance information from the State of Florida in this declared State of Emergency.  Please read this in its entirety and be sure to have your business complete the Business Damage Assessment survey from the State. 


Downtown South Business Owner:

Our community and your district in particular, were shaken by the events on June 12th.  The City of Orlando would like to thank you for your generous support of local, state and federal responders that are working in and around the affected area.

At the same time, we understand and are sympathetic to the resulting impacts of this incident and subsequent investigation, including complete business shutdowns and indefinite road closures.  We realize that these unintended effects not only create undue burdens for your business but your employees and families as well.

As a City, we aim to provide you with all the information regarding available assistance to minimize the financial impact on your business as well as up to date road closure information.   We appreciate your choosing the City of Orlando as home to your business and look forward to Downtown South being fully operational and open for business very soon.

Communication efforts are underway.  The City of Orlando website is the best source for acquiring the most up to date information.  All updates, including road openings, are posted here:

The City is encouraging all business owners to contact their insurance companies for information about your policies.  Many business insurance policies include Business Interruption Insurance for situations such as this.  Please contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

The State of Florida Emergency Operations Center has activated the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center to provide assistance to local businesses impacted by the terror attack in Orlando.   The program is managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and will survey businesses affected by the tragedy. DEO will share the results with various state and local agencies to implement appropriate relief programs.

Affected businesses should complete a Business Damage Assessment survey that will be used to determine which emergency support programs might be beneficial to help impacted local businesses. Local and state officials will use this information to quickly provide any needed assistance programs. 

The survey can be obtained at  by selecting the “Orlando Emergency Event” event.  

Additional information:

OrlandoUnited  — Want to Help?

City of Orlando Family Assistance Center

The OneOrlando Fund


Warm regards, 



Lillian Scott-Payne
Business Development Division Manager
Business Development Division
Economic Development Department
City of Orlando
400 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Follow us!

Contact Downtown South | 407-715-3315

918 South Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806