Tobacco Road, not smokin

Submitted by ub on Wed, 10/29/2014 - 12:18

Tobacco Road, South Florida's oldest bar and my old watering hole as a University of Miami student, where suit-and-tie-businessmen would belly up alongside long-hairs listening to the best live music in Miami is now history after 102 years.

The cramped, musty space in the downtown district is closed down for decades as a gambling den frequented by Al Capone, as well as a strip club and legendary blues bar. But the iconic bar will pour its final drink on Saturday, marking the end of an era in gentrified Miami where traffic-clogged roads are increasingly shaded by new office towers and high-rise condominiums.

Sometime in the 1920s TR obtained what is thought to be the area's oldest liquor license, according yo historians at Miami Dade College. During World War Two it became a gay bar and was shut down by the Navy for lewd and lascivious behavior. It reopened in 1948 and until the 1970s was named Chanticleer after a character in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."

The new owners won customers by serving juicy burgers and spicy chicken wings that even in its final days attracted lunchtime and happy hour crowds. A dimly lit upstairs room soon became one of the city's most talked about music venues after they brought in popular Blues Bands.

The beginning of the end came in 2012, when Colombian auto executive Carlos Mattos purchased the bar and a group of adjoining businesses for $12.5 million, according to County property records.

The bar, restaurant an cabart sits near Brickell City Center, a billion-dollar complex being developed by Hong Kong-based Swire Properties.

While Gleber and his partners have already cashed out, including licensing the name to Norwegian Cruise Line for a kitschy reproduction at sea, manager Joel Riviera and bar staff have launched a crowd-funding campaign with seeking $50,000 in hopes of moving the bar down the street.

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