Ace Café Opens Its First US Location In Orlando

There are theme restaurants of all kinds these days, but few cater to those of us with motor oil in our veins. For American enthusiasts that all changed this weekend as a motoring-themed restaurant brought its brand across the pond.

Mark Wilsmore, Managing Director of Ace Café London, remembered the original café fondly from its youth, but it closed in 1969. Some years later, in 1994, he organized the first Ace Café reunion and it was a resounding success with 12,000 bikes in attendance, so he took on some partners and kicked started a new café in London. Now the brand is spreading throughout the world with locations in Finland, Spain, and, now, Orlando, Florida.

For its VIP grand opening party, the Ace Café invited a select group of enthusiasts, media and supporters out for the first look at the facility. Among these enthusiasts, several brought beautiful Ford machinery.

The café has its roots in the fusion of the cultural phenomenon of motorized transportation and music. Over time it evolved from motorcycles to automobiles, but the café was always the meeting spot in the United Kingdom. Now Ace Café has expanded that concept into a globalized brand that offers play land for fans of motoring and music as well as food and drink.

“I’m not old enough to have been there in its halcyon days, but I am old enough to remember it as a kid,” Mark told us. “…It had to be re-opened and that came to pass to start with the reunion 25 years after the place had shut and 12,000 bikes turned up along with old Cadillacs and hot rods. So we weren’t mad. That was the evidence.”

Our team is privileged to continue the culture and heritage of the world’s most famous motor diner. — Mark McKee, Ace Cafe North America

From that evidence, the café was reborn and this weekend the Orlando location — the first in the United States — opened with great fanfare and we were in attendance for the grand-opening party.

“Our team is privileged to continue the culture and heritage of the world’s most famous motor diner,” said Mark McKee, CEO and Chief Gearhead of Ace Cafe North America. “This is exactly the Ace that we envisioned — a beacon for everyone, from petrolheads and enthusiasts, to the after-hours work crowd, families, music lovers, and everyone in between. We have remained true to the spirit of the Ace, and we have done so in a way that honors this incredible space in the heart of downtown Orlando. It is our hope that Ace Café Orlando will serve this community for generations to come.”

“It is a pleasure being here as Ace Café opens its North American headquarters here in Orlando,” Buddy Dyer (center), Mayor of Orlando, said. “…We are so happy, not only to have Ace here in downtown Orlando, but to have renovated an historic building that means so much to Orlando — that has had so many variations — and to do it in this high-quality way.”

Part of how the café will serve the community is what interested us. Along with the motoring theme, the Orlando site will serve as host to a running calendar of automotive- and motorcycle-themed events, from themed cruise nights to a Saturday morning Cars, Carbs & Caffeine cruise-in. In short, it’s going to be a hub for enthusiasts to gather and have a good time.

“They are welcome to hang out here, show their cars, show their bikes, enjoy good food, and listen to rock ’n roll — no pressure and no headache,” Tara Bush, Car Events Coordinator at Ace Café told us.

With motorcycle and automotive themes throughout, the Ace Café features multiple bars, restaurants, retail shops, and even a coffee bar across its 35,000-square-foot campus.

For more on the first Ace Café in the US, you can visit the official site here and if you want to participate in any of its events — like the monthly Ford night on the first Wednesday of each month — you can visit the event calendar here.

Several of the enthusiasts invited to display vehicles at the grand opening event brought some serious hardware. Among those on had were Larry Beach of the Ford Performance Club of Florida with his Shelby GT500 and Tom Scarpello, of Revology Cars, with his Shelby GT350 replica. Even your author brought out his own GT500, Project Vapor Trail.

The Ace Café will host numerous automotive- and motorcycle-themed events, including a monthly Ford night.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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