While bars all over Orlando are shutting down or changing management, a new bar, Bar Louie, just opened on University Boulevard.
Bar Louie — a self-described "eclectic urban bar," according to its website — opened its doors Sept. 11 in the Plaza on University shopping center and has been cranking out hand-made drinks, burgers, flatbreads and more ever since.
While this isn't the only Bar Louie location in Orlando — there is another on West Sand Lake Road — the UCF area is a different sort of animal the team wanted to tackle, said Bar Louie manager Shea Smith.
"We wanted to add another location to the Orlando area. We thought the concentration of students and proximity to UCF would be a perfect [opportunity], and it's what the area needed," Smith said.
Serving what Smith called "upscale bar food," Bar Louie serves its full menu, consisting of appetizers, flatbreads, salads and larger plates, with prices ranging from $3.50 for a cup of soup to $18 for a sesame-encrusted ahi tuna plate, right when it opens at 11 a.m. until the location shuts its doors at 2 a.m.
"When [students] get out of class late or party downtown, their only option isn't fast food," Smith said. "They can get nice, quality food at 1 a.m."
Aside from the food, Bar Louie also has a list of 35 different hand-made drinks for patrons to enjoy.
But in an area dotted with popular college bars, why bring in something a little fancier?
"We're trying to be a step above the rest. We want to stay clean and upscale," said Brianna Bernal, a junior construction and civil engineering double major who works as a server at Bar Louie. "We don't want to be over the top. [We want patrons to be] in a comfortable environment [where they] don't get sketched out at."
And that attitude is definitely attracting students, such as Mike Tinelli, a junior advertising-public relations major who has more than 10 years' worth of experience in the restaurant industry.
"I like that it's not your typical college bar," Tinelli said. "As much as I love to rage, something more upscale definitely piques my interest."
While there are currently no ongoing student specials, patrons can enjoy happy hour every weekday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Happy hour deals include $3.25 draft beers, $4.25 per glass of wine from the bar's selection of 21 different wines and $5.25 for a signature martini.
But instead of drinking on an empty stomach, patrons can also enjoy half-off appetizers, including quesadillas, flatbreads, boneless wings, spinach dip, shrimp bruschetta and trip chips and dips with salsa, queso and guacamole.
The restaurant also offers $5 burger night on Tuesdays, where customers can buy any of its specialty burgers for $5, including tater tots or French fries.
Bar Louie is currently working with the charity No Kid Hungry. Any patron who donates $2 to the organization will received a $5-off coupon.