New restaurant named for Orlando civil rights activist opens downtown

The Monroe is named for Dr. William ‘Monroe’ Wells

The Monroe restaurant, named after an Orlando civil rights leader, held its grand opening in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village on Tuesday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Monroe restaurant, named after an Orlando civil rights leader, held its grand opening in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village on Tuesday.

The restaurant opened inside the Julian Apartments complex along North Terry Avenue, just north of the Parramore neighborhood.

The Monroe is the fourth restaurant from the Good Salt Group — which also runs the Osprey Tavern, Seito Sushi and Reyes Mezcaleria.

Jason Chin, the co-owner of the Good Salt Group, said he wanted to showcase some of Orlando’s history with the Monroe.

“We wanted to make sure that we definitely honored that,” Chin said. It’s very Florida-themed, very Orlando-themed kind of a homage to Orlando and the history that we have here and particularly in this neighborhood. That’s something that we wanted to preserve in the Parramore neighborhood which is why we named the restaurant the Monroe.

The name is inspired by Dr. William “Monroe” Wells, whose name can also be found on the Wells’ Built Museum located at 511 W. South St.

[TRENDING: Cosmic wonder: Supermoon eclipse | Feral hogs run wild, damage lawns | Groomer sentenced for breaking dog’s tail]

During World War II, Wells was the only Black doctor in Orlando. He also built the Wells Built Hotel and South Street Casino, which provide lodging to African Americans during an era of segregation when accommodations were not available to them in other areas of Central Florida, according to the Wells’ Built museum website.

Chin has lived in Orlando for 31 years and said he has seen Orlando change a lot in that time, especially in the hospitality industry.

“Our food culture and our culinary scene here just absolutely exploded,” he said.

[PHOTOS: Take a look inside The Monroe]

The restaurant’s executive chef is Josh Oakley, who has worked at other well-known Central Florida restaurants such as the Ravenous Pig, Cask and Larder, Rusty Spoon, 1921 and was the chef/owner of the Smiling Bison, according to The Monroe’s website.

The restaurant offers a full coffee bar, along with pastries, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. From 5 to 10 p.m., it offers a full dinner and cocktail menu featuring southern comfort staples such as fried chicken and blackened catfish.

The Monroe is just the latest addition to downtown Orlando’s Creative Village, which already houses the UCF Downtown and Valencia College Downtown Campus. The new Electronic Arts, EA, Orlando Studio is also set to open there later this year.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.