Residents who miss the last call tonight at one historic Winter Park bar may have to wait three months before they get another chance.
The historic Tom and Jerry’s Bar and Lounge will be torn down next month to make way for the new Ravaudage development, a 70-acre shopping, dining and residential area.
The 67-year-old bar along North Orlando Avenue will be given new life by March, with a new location set for an open lot along New England Avenue near Dexter’s in Hannibal Square.
“We want to try to take the old sign and a liquor license and do something,” said Tom and Jerry’s owner Dan Bellows, who also happens to be the developer of Ravaudage.
The bar, built in 1946, had been in need of a retrofit for several years, Bellows said. The counters and the floors were redone eight years ago, but the restrooms and other areas of the bar fell behind the times.
The new location will also feature a variety of food, hoping to draw in new customers.
“The Tom and Jerry’s building is old and antiquated,” said Bellows, who bought the bar 13 years ago.
“Even if Ravaudage wasn’t happening, Tom and Jerry’s needs to be rebuilt.”
But bar manager Lucy Miller wasn’t sure if the new location would retain the business it’s had over the years. The red brick walls and dim lightning of its original location give the bar a feel that’s difficult to describe – and difficult to replicate, she said.
“It’s not going to be the same,” Miller said. “I think it’s going to be a different Tom and Jerry’s … it’s not going to have the history in here. I always say it’s a five-star hole in the wall.”
Winter Park resident Michael Garcia remembers back when Tom and Jerry’s was a packaging house in the ’80s, complete with a drive-through window where thirsty patrons could buy a six pack and drive off.
“This has been a staple here forever,” said Garcia, who’s been a regular at the bar for more than 20 years.
“There’s not a lot businesses that stay in Winter Park,” Garcia said. “We’re not a city like Boston that’s kept certain bars — Cheers bar has been there forever and ever.”
Other bars in Winter Park that have come and gone over the years include Harper’s Tavern, a prohibition-era watering hole that burnt down in the mid-’90s, and the Crocodile Club, a jungle-themed spot on the corner of Fairbanks and Park Avenue eventually redeveloped by Rollins College.
Harpers Tavern was later reborn in 2011 as “Harper’s” at a new location, but the business fell under and changed hands shortly after.
Bellows felt strongly that the new Tom and Jerry’s would succeed and that Ravaudage needs to move forward, considering its potential impact on Winter Park and the surrounding areas.
“The bigger picture is developing all 70 acres of Ravaudage,” Bellows said. “We’ve just got to fit Tom and Jerry’s in where we can.”
Tom and Jerry’s will commemorate its final day at the old building with an event tonight, Dec. 19, at 5 p.m., featuring food trucks and live music.