Barcodes (4453 Edgewater Drive, Orlando), a neighborhood bar in the Orlando neighborhood of College Park, will celebrate their 8thanniversary on Saturday, March 11. Preparation of the big event, we chatted David, who owns the bar with his life partners Raymond.
How long have you and Raymond been together and how did you meet?
We met about nine years ago at Sawmill Campgrounds. I like to joke with my friends that our first date was no dinner, no kiss and no lube, but it was love at first sight.
What did the two of you do before you opened Barcodes?
I owned a motel on Singer Island and Raymond was a district manager for a convenience store.
What made you decide to open Barcodes and how did you pick the name?
I had been self-employed since 1974 and I decided I wanted to stay self-employed. Raymond wanted us to open a business together. Shortly afterward, friends of ours told us there was a bar for sale. When we looked at it, it was so run down that we were horrified, but we decided to take a shot at it. We originally leased the building. But, a year and a half later we were able to purchase it which allowed us the ability to do a lot of upgrades. I honestly don’t remember how we picked the name, but we did do an exhaustive search before deciding.
How has the bar changed over the years from your original concept?
I would say our clientele remain consistent. It’s a neighborhood bar where everyone is welcome. We still do a lot of charitable events, and we are so happy to help the community we love.
You mentioned some of the upgrades that you and Raymond have made. What are some of the improvements that you are most proud of?
We made the bar smoke free after we did a survey and had a 95 percent positive reaction from banning smoking inside the bar … even from smokers. It made a huge difference on the cleanliness on the bar and the wear and tear on the equipment. Even the electric bill went down 20 percent!
Everyone in Orlando was shocked about what happened on June 12, as it not only happened in our community but in a gay bar. Just like everyone else, we were in shock too, so we decided it was only appropriate to paint the building as a memorial to Pulse and to keep Orlando strong!
Last May, we did major renovations to the outside of the building including fencing, lighting, sound system, and seating. The patio has always been a popular spot for our guests, it is even more so now.
How did the Store inside of Barcodes come about?
We started the Store about six months after we opened and it has caught on very quickly. Recently we added Andrew Christian underwear and they are flying off the shelves. We also sell T shirts, baseball caps, and all types of “personal supplies.” The Store is open the same hours as the bar; seven days a week from noon till 2 a.m.
What do you attribute the eight years of success to?
Basically, our loyal clientele. We try and do a lot of marketing etc., but without the loyal clientele we wouldn’t be here.
What should the Orlando residents expect when they come to your anniversary?
We are celebrating by giving away numerous items hourly starting at 9 p.m. Some of our fabulous prizes include; a two night stay at Flamingo Resort in St. Pete, a two night stay at Parliament House in Orlando, numerous “novelty” items from our store as well as items from our beer vendors. The grand prize will be $500 cash.
What’s ahead for Barcodes?
We try not to think too far ahead and live in the moment. When we see an opportunity we try to execute and move fast. Right now, we are just enjoying where we are.