Friday, June 03, 2011

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Samba Room

What you're looking at is the Samba Room on the east-bound side of Sandlake Road, a block past where Dr. Phillips Blvd dead ends into Sandlake. We've known about it ever since it was built but we've never stopped there for a meal until my beloved got us a Groupon deal at The Samba Room to buy $30 work of meal for a mere $15. That was back in January. We had until 31 May to exercise the Groupon, and as luck would have it time passed by pretty quickly before we could get around to using it.

The Groupon was for lunch and dinner meals. So last week (before the end of May) we started to call to make reservations as well as drive by during lunch to eat there. Every time we called no-one would answer. Every time we stopped by the place was closed. Furthermore the sign on the outside said that the hours of operation were from 4pm to midnight, dinner only. Our collective eyebrows went up over that.

Finally, on Monday, the 31st, we went down around 7pm to see if we could take advantage of the Groupon and it was still closed. That's when it finally dawned on us that The Samba Room was closed for business. The photo was taken this evening when we went by a local Chinese restaurant for pickup.

I've been paying attention recently to the local signs of economic activity, such as local businesses, and whether they're open or not. The Samba Room isn't part of a chain. And it's in an area that should be able to support it; at one end of Sandlake is International Drive and all the tourists, and at the other end of Sandlake are all the 'rich' neighborhoods and communities, such as Bay Hill (where they hold the Bay Hill Golf Classic), Windermere, and Isleworth, where Tiger Woods once wrecked his SUV.

It's not like this is the poor section of town. And this isn't the first small business to die in this area, just the most recent and most colorful. The economy is not all the wonderful, and Orlando, having taken quite a hit in the Great Recession, isn't in any shape to take a second hit in a downturn. The next twelve months are going to be very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

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