Local hotspots serve as alternatives as University Shoppes Plaza faces demolition
Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012 12:08
The University Shoppes Plaza on University Boulevard has long been a big part of UCF student nightlife and cuisine.
This September, however, many students will find familiar hangouts like Lazy Moon Pizza and Knight Library noticeably absent from their lives as the Plaza is set to be vacated and demolished to make way for a new housing community. While some of these businesses will reopen elsewhere, most have not yet settled on a new location.
What’s a hungry, bored Knight to do during the hiatus?
Luckily for students, Orlando is a bustling city with plenty to offer to those looking for a night (or day) on the town, and so there are several alternatives available to the Plaza’s most popular establishments.
The Plaza’s bars and clubs offer a unique experience for students that may be difficult to find elsewhere; however, its absence should encourage students to sample the nightlife in other areas of Orlando.
Downtown Orlando offers an eclectic mix of bars and clubs. Independent Bar, Cowboys and Backbooth are all 18-plus clubs with minimal cover fees and several theme nights. The 21-plus crowd has even more to choose from, with diverse clubs like Bar-B-Q, which sports a more indie atmosphere, and Club 23, which hosts a guest DJ night every Wednesday.
For those concerned about transportation, several party bus services such as Cast Party Bus and Unforgettable Entertainment Party Bus offer $10 round trips downtown with UCF pick-up areas. If you’re looking to spend your night a little closer to home, Devaney’s Too on Colonial Drive offers a traditional bar environment while Firkin & Kegler at Waterford Lakes Town Center serves up something different with a pub, bowling alley, weekly specials and dance club nights on Fridays and Saturdays.
Students may also find a popular social venue in The Station, a new bar/grill/nightclub located in the University Commons Plaza and set to open near the end of the month.
But how do you substitute a classic? Lazy Moon is notorious for its laid-back collegiate vibe, drink deals and giant slices of pizza. No other local pizza joint serves up slices with quite the same style; however, Flippers Pizzeria on Alafaya Trail may be able to please Lazy Moon loyalists until it reopens at a different location. What Flippers lacks in slice-by-slice service it makes up for in variety. Diners can choose from flatbreads, pasta, sandwiches, calzones and more than 20 types of specialty pizzas. The pizzeria also offers several different white, blush and red wines along with domestic, premium and imported drafts to accompany your order.
Students looking for a taste of the Caribbean will miss Mama Millie’s conveniently located jerk chicken, curry shrimp, coco bread and other Jamaican staples. Luckily, Mark’s Caribbean Cuisine off of University Boulevard offers many of the same menu items in a similar price range. Be sure to check the restaurant’s website for daily coupons and specials at HealthyJamaicanFood.com.
Many other popular shops and restaurants at the Plaza, such as Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and El Cerro/Habanero’s Mexican Grill, have other branches open in the Orlando and Oviedo areas — be sure to check company websites to find out more about their locations and hours.
The Plaza on University Boulevard will remain open until Sept. 30 so be sure to stop by your favorite bar or eatery before then.