Eola General opened its doors to the public in the Eola Heights neighborhood in late February.
The general store took the place of the former Handy Pantry, an Eola Heights staple which closed due to financial reasons last September. Eola General, which is just four blocks from Lake Eola, is located at 522 E. Amelia St.
“One of my partners actually termed it the best. He said it’s going to be like your one-stop picnic shop,” Joe Roberti said. “Because you come in, you can grab a bottle of wine, you can grab some nice cheeses, you can grab a couple nice sandwiches and then you can go right on down to Lake Eola and sit down right there and have a little picnic for yourself.”
Goods offered at the store will be from local businesses. Selection of goods will be curated by local business owners who know their respective fields well. Juan Chirinos from Wavelength Coffee, for example, is curating the coffee menu and Matt Uva from Quantum Leap Winery is selecting wines to feature at the store. Small businesses throughout Orlando have been given an opportunity to offer their goods at Eola General.
“We’re a small business. So, of course it’s important for us to support other small businesses,” Roberti said. “That slogan ‘We are stronger together’ that you hear all the time, I think that definitely applies to small businesses.”
Opening the store was not straightforward. The opening date was delayed due to the difficulties in obtaining their beer and wine license. Patrons will be able to sit on the picnic tables out front and drink a beer or open a bottle of wine, something unique for a modern-day general store.
Making sure the land where Handy Pantry once sat continues as a general store was important to the owners, and they said they hope they can continue the legacy of a local general store for the Eola Heights district. Sean Kelley, one of the Eola General owners, lives a few blocks away and told Roberti the importance of preserving that history.
“[Kelley] always said, ‘I did not want to see that piece of land become condos and townhouses. Absolutely not, we have to keep it a convenience store,’” Roberti said. “So that is definitely a priority to us.”