Every small city needs a place that serves tasty, affordable food, pours inexpensive (and generous!) drinks, has live music or DJs most nights, and stays open late. Whether you call it a small venue, a cool hang, or even a dive, you also have to call it this: necessary. A downtown just isn’t complete without at least one.

For Historic Downtown Sanford, West End Trading Company fills this niche and then some. Orlando Weekly called it “the up-punching dive you always wanted.” West End features a small indoor stage, but it’s the much larger one out back that gets the best live-music action. The covered bandstand is situated in a courtyard-type space that holds a crowd of 300. Established and emerging local acts regularly play the outdoor stage, as do top regional bands like The Supervillains and Victims of Circumstance.

West End offers an extensive menu of pub grub, and is best known for its much-praised wings, which come with a variety of sauces and heat levels. The joint has a full liquor bar and a signature drink called the Sunshine State Bomb (a mixture of orange juice, energy drink and citrus vodka). West End is on pace to sell its one-millionth Sunshine State Bomb in 2023. As you might expect, West End is also big on beer, with 27 taps pouring everything from local craft brews to Bud Light.

Located in a weathered brick building on the busy corner of Sanford Avenue and East 2nd Street, West End is an easy walk from other locally-owned restaurants, craft breweries, bars, and lounges. West End’s beginnings were humble. It opened on Sept. 29, 2006, the City of Sanford’s 129th birthday. Not a whole lot was going on downtown at the time. Most of the activity was centered around the German-themed Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe and a few other small bars and restaurants.

In 2007, West End launched its first major event, a street bash and concert called the Hurricane Party. With the 14th edition coming up, the Hurricane Party has become one of the largest blow-outs in Central Florida.

A key part of growing a thriving, walkable downtown is for local businesses to work together to create an ongoing series of vibrant events that draw people — both locals and visitors. When it comes to collaborating with neighbors and contributing to downtown Sanford’s growth, West End is all in. The place eagerly organizes, hosts and participates in a roll call of fun events. The Pints n’ Paws Craft Beer Festival has become a save-the-date party. (The ninth annual is Saturday, March 21, 2-6 p.m.) Others include Sofa and Suds (couch racing and beer chasing), Sanford Mardis Gras (with a street parade), Bad at Business Beer FestivalSanford Jingle Jam, and the Paddy’s Day Truck Pull & Street Festival.

West End Trading Company has established itself as a key player in the resurgence of Historic Downtown Sanford’s entertainment, restaurant and cultural scenes.

But more importantly, it’s also a totally fun place to hang out!