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Mango’s Tropical Cafe Owner David Wallack and COO Joshua Wallack Give Media the VIP Treatment at New I-Drive Location



FNN BUSINESS: 3rd-highest grossing nightclub/restaurant Mango's Tropical Cafe Orlando opens to the media. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN Business) – Father-and-son duo David and Joshua Wallack launched Media Night at their newly opened Mango’s Tropical Cafe at the corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Bloggers, journalists, photographers, and videographers large and small came: Fox 35, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Style, and Florida National News were among the media outlets in attendance. What made the night special was that it was more than just a tour of the two-story indoor-outdoor 55,000 square-foot venue—the Wallacks saw to it that the media were rewarded with a completely immersive VIP experience.

Mango's Tropical Cafe Orlando's Main Bar welcomes attendees and welcomes them to the Main VIP area and Stage straight ahead. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando’s Main Bar welcomes attendees and welcomes them to the Main VIP area and Stage straight ahead. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

Staff and leopard print-clad waiters and waitresses flanked the door to greet patrons, and press members were given VIP wristbands, entitling them to free drinks all night long. For a nightclub and restaurant that closes at 3:00 a.m., that perk could amount to many drinks.

The live entertainment began at 7:00 p.m. and was non-stop, alternating between Latin song and dance; pop song cover performances, including Bruno Mars’s “Treasure,” Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” and even Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”; true-to-life Michael Jackson tribute performances to “Thriller,” “Billy Jean,” and other hits; and live Hip Hop and pop dance performances with DJ-led musical selections, including Pitbull’s “Fireball.” Additionally, the waitresses joined in the dancing in the Main Bar VIP area and upstairs, or in some cases were the featured onstage dancers themselves, as was the case with “Anaconda.”

Mango's Tropical Cafe's 2nd floor Vodou Lounge offers a luxurious, relaxing entertainment experience. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe’s 2nd floor Vodou Lounge offers a luxurious, relaxing entertainment experience. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

The media were welcomed and offered sumptuous Latin cuisine in the exclusive Vodou Room upstairs, a spacious lounge featuring exquisite artwork by internationally acclaimed Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrie. It can host up to 300 people or be partitioned into two separate party rooms hosting 150 people each. The room boasts plenty of screens and a high quality light and sound system that ensures VIPs do not miss a moment of what is happening on the Main Stage downstairs. Those who opt not to watch the Main Stage are still entertained thanks to several designated spots in the room in which waiters and waitresses break into dance for the guests’ pleasure.

“Mango’s is more than simply a place to eat or drink, it’s an homage to the days when people got dressed up and went out to socialize with friends and neighbors, when a good meal didn’t involve a drive-through window, when great music and dancing were enjoyed live, not just on a screen, and when a high value was placed on real art and culture,” said Mango’s Tropical Cafe owner David Wallack.

The upscale nightclub and restaurant offers tourists and locals alike an experience they will yearn to repeat many times over. The waiters and waitresses all serve and dance with verve and smiles, and the $4 million in state-of-the-art technology alone create the complete concert experience on an intimate scale—Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando can host close to 2,000 people.

Mango's Tropical Cafe COO Joshua Wallack speaks passionately to several members of the media about his journey of bringing Mango's Orlando to fruition. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe COO Joshua Wallack speaks passionately to several members of the media about his journey of bringing Mango’s Orlando to fruition. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

The Wallacks aim to replicate the success of their Miami Beach location, which is the third highest-grossing restaurant/nightclub in the United States outside of Las Vegas. “We spared no expense to make Mango’s the premier Orlando dining, entertainment, and nightlife destination and the area’s largest, most spectacular event space, all right in the heart of the attractions corridor,” Mango’s Tropical Cafe Chief Operating Officer Joshua Wallack said. “We are excited to bring world-class, New Year’s Eve quality music and entertainment as well as fabulous food, drinks, DJs, and dancing to I-Drive seven nights a week.”



Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer and decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

She is also an author success mentor, helping CEOs and executives, advisors, coaches, consultants, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book via her Inevitable AUTHORity™ Author Mentoring Program.

She has published seven books, all available on Her newly released book, From a Babe 2.0, is now available on the Kindle.


Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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