The owner of Orlando’s the Smiling Bison (Facebook | Website), Josh Oakley, announced on the Smiling Bison Facebook page that he would be closing the restaurant by late December.

Operating hours, as stated in the quote below, will now be limited to 5:30 p.m.-midnight Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. They will be closed during their popular Wing Wednesdays night, but the .50 cent wings deal will be extended to Thursday through Saturday.

They are currently located in the former home of Redlight Redlight, at 745 Bennett Road [GMap].



Like many of you, I spent many a blurry evening at Redlight Redlight when they occupied our space on Bennett Road. On virtually all of those evenings, I can vividly remember thinking that it would be the perfect space in town to open the kind of restaurant I would want to have, if I were ever foolish enough to do a thing as unadvisable as opening a restaurant. An approachable, off the beaten path, semi-divey (well ok lets be honest here- totally divey) spot where we could offer food, beer, service, and live music of the highest integrity and craftsmanship in the most casual and unassuming environment possible. As hard as it still may be for me to believe, that’s exactly what ended up happening, and with a great deal of success, no less. Unfathomable success to me when I consider the modest-at-best resources we’ve had at our disposal to get us this far. I didn’t even ever make a conscious effort to make it happen in that spot, it literally just fell in to place before I even knew what hit me. It’s been the most challenging and at the same time most rewarding experience I could have ever imagined having.

Sadly, this chapter of the story is coming to an end. After very
careful consideration, we have notified our landlord that we will be
vacating our location at 745 Bennett Rd. by the end of December.
Despite our strong emotional attachment to the space, and our success there to date, the simplest way to put it is that many circumstances well beyond our control prevent our long-term sustainability at that location. It’s no secret that we’ve recently been on the lookout for a new space in Orlando. Having not found the right one yet, this is undoubtedly the right move at this time, as sad as that may be.

We are thrilled with the success of The Smiling Bison Sanford, and
unlike our Orlando location, virtually all of the prevailing
circumstances are in our favor up there. The hype is real folks…
Sanford is a great town and getting better every day and we feel
privileged to be a part of it. While we will all miss that dingy
old place dearly, it is time to do what must be done, and I am
really excited for the next chapter, and the opportunity that focusing solely our Sanford location for the time being presents.

No hard closing date has been established as of yet, but sometime in the 3rd week of December is the best estimate. To aid us in the expanding of our Sanford hours, and in the transition of equipment, goods, and staff (the vast majority of whom I’m very thankful to be bringing with me to Sanford), our new hours in Orlando will be as follows:

Dinner: Thursday-Satuday 5:30-12:00
Brunch Sunday 11:00-3:00

Lunch and brunch will be happening in Sanford soon.

Beyond that it will be business as usual right up until our final
service. We’ll be bringing back some of our favorite dishes and
musicians one more time over the next six weeks, along with a special event or two to make sure we send ourselves off with a bang.

From slinging sausages and tacos outside of Wills Pub nearly four
years ago until now, its has been one hell of a voyage. The sincerest of thanks to all of the friends, strangers, artists, musicians, brewers, farmers and makers, vendors, dedicated staff members, and loyal guests who have joined us along the way. We couldn’t do it without you, nor would we ever want to.

Onward and Upward,


Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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  1. Dang, never been there and always wanted to. There’s still the one in Sanford. Must visit both.