The Fifth, in Thirds
New downtown concept blends lounge, restaurant and package store in one cool space.
Norma Lopez Molina
The V Group is at it again. The downtown nightclub operator’s recent opening of The Fifth, in a prime spot on South Orange Avenue, adds to the cluster of bars owned by the entrepreneurial duo of David Kaye and Jeff Gitto. The bar’s name spawns from the simple fact that The Fifth is the group’s fifth concept, joining NV Art Bar, Vintage Lounge, Vixen Bar and (coming soon) Vanity Nightclub. Conveniently, Vixen, Vintage and The Fifth interconnect, allowing guests to mingle among the three.
The Fifth encompasses so many elements that it’s easy to get confused about what its core function is. I’ll do my best to explain. The 2,100-square-foot space is part restaurant, part bar and part retail/liquor store. Yes, you heard that right—a store inside a bar. Formerly, the Plaza Market and Spirits occupied the site of The Fifth, and Kaye and Gitto liked the idea of incorporating a package store into The Fifth. Regulars can store their purchases in private lockers for an annual membership fee.
The restaurant portion of The Fifth—open for lunch, dinner and even late-night meals—serves comfort food with a twist. It’s rare for decent fare to be available downtown at such a late hour. The Fifth’s chicken and waffles really hit the spot at 1 a.m.
The Fifth’s stylish onyx bar is adorned with LED lighting that can showcase 16 million different colors. The lighting continues onto the intricately patterned ceiling, setting a chic mood. The walls are finished with striking white quartz, while contemporary couch-like seating and cocktail tables frame the outskirts of the bar and provide seating for up to 60. The Fifth’s design is sleek and modern, a nice contrast to its sister venues next door. The crowd is mostly young professionals, contributing to the upscale environment.
Kaye and Gitto seem to have found their niche in downtown’s nightlife scene, with themed, upscale but unique, modestly sized venues being their thing.
The Fifth, 112 South Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-826-1932, the-fifth.com
The Legend Continues
If you partied in the disco era around here, you may remember doing the Hustle at the Why Not Lounge. The name of the club embodied the 1970s zeitgeist: Why not drink? Why not dance? And why not go to bed with a stranger?
“My fraternity buddies from Winter Park said that if you couldn’t get picked up at the Why Not, then you were hopeless,” says a past nightclubber. That kind of reputation was good for business.
Unlike its disco/pick-up bar brethren back then—mainly Phineas Phogg’s and Nichols Alley in downtown Orlando—the Why Not (below) is still in business and in the same location in Altamonte Springs, now part of a Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel. It’s been around so long that it added “Legendary” to its name.
A dance floor is still there, and, from the looks of the clientele on one night, so are some of the same disco queens and kings who once did the Bump on it. The club also features comedy acts as well as DJs and live music.
Judging by its staying power, the Why Not Lounge may be around when the leisure suit and big hair come back in style.