Orlando | Every road must come to an end. After eight fabulous years Funky Monkey on Mills, the first restaurant in Orlando to feature dinner and drag shows, will be closing its doors June 28.
“We’ve decided to focus all our energy at our Pointe Orlando location,” said Eddie Nickell, who owns Funky Monkey with his husband Nicholas Olivieri. “It’s more than bittersweet, it’s sad. We’ve made so many memories here.”
With 15 years of hotel experience at the Marriott and a passion for great food and wine, Eddie and Nicholas started Funky Monkey with the goal to bring LGBT culture to Mills Avenue.
“When we first opened everyone thought we were crazy,” said Nickell. “Nobody thought this place would work. Mills was a rundown area at the time, but it was still the cool side of town.”
As the restaurant took off, Eddie kept his promise to build up his beloved neighborhood. He served on the board of directors that started the Mills 50 District, all while opening five other restaurants around town with Nicholas.
“It was always exciting to be at this location,” Nickell said. “The top drag queens in Orlando have performed here. My favorite memories are when we would host two drag shows a night, with a special dinner theatre setting. We’d quickly clear out the first show while everyone outside anticipated the second.”
Though the Mills location will feature a different restaurant soon, Eddie and Nicholas say you’ll still catch them hanging around Mills as landlords.
“The good thing is we own the Funky Monkey building,” said Nickell. “Rest assured, I will make sure we get a good concept here to carry on fine food on Mills.”
What’s in the future for this dynamic restaurant duo, you ask?
“We’re always keeping an eye out for new venues and trends,” Nickell said. “We feel like I-Drive is the up and coming area now, but we’ll be back here someday. For now, it’s time to pack up and move on.”
Funky Monkey on Mills held a final good-bye dinner June 28, with food made by Chef Ashley Nickell, Eddie’s daughter. A portion of the proceeds raised at the dinner were donated to Mills-50 Organization, a foundation Eddie and Nicholas helped create.