By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
"It was a working man's bar," Meklas explains. When he died in 2004, Meklas' mother jumped in and ran the place until her own death in 2010. Then it fell to the daughters.
"We had offers, but it's my family's; it's our business," Meklas says, pausing to pull from her beer. "I like it. That's why I fought to keep it."
The Wayside has added some 21st-century bells and whistles. Flat-screen TVs are now mounted on the walls. The tap handles for Magic Hat and 312 now join Budweiser and Bud Light — to the grumbles of some regulars. The bar recently won a community redevelopment grant from the city that will pay for new paint, awnings, and windows in January. Otherwise, Meklas is pretty committed to keeping the status quo hammered in place. For now, that includes the dollar beers.
Finally, after weeks of watching barkeeps laugh off my Washingtons, here I've crossed the finish line. But honestly, I'm pretty beat from the mileage I've logged on the quest.
They say the more time you spend in dive bars, the more you start looking like someone who spends time in dive bars. Field Lesson Number Three: This is true. Cigarettes — you start smoking them, if only to have something to do. The skin on your face seems to hang off your skull more than usual. A sticky feeling settles between your fingers, impervious to all scrubbing. And you realize, after knocking off enough beers in enough bars, that this whole drinking lifestyle is slowly circling the drain.
I'm the youngest guy here — by around 20 years. That's how it's been at every dive I've crawled into. People just don't drink like they did. The cold one after work isn't routine; it's the exception.
Blame it on the tectonic shifts of The Way We Live Now. Bar culture is beelining away from cheap drinks to big-budget cocktails and craft brews. Younger generations prefer Molly and club beats. A cold funeral wind seems to blow off the dives still standing. These places, and the people inside — once they go, they're gone. Which is a real downer, because South Florida's dive-bar scene is about as unique a culture as the region's ever birthed.
I'm visited with a terrifying vision of the future: Eventually, marauding armies of steroid-bulky, real-estate-hungry Miami bros will sack places like the Lamp Light, the Deuce, Grady's. Russian Mafiosos will pave over the land for small foreign-car dealerships. The $12 Appletini will become an acceptable order. Any remaining of us working folk will be forced to drink Ice House alone at home, shut away like slave labor in Metropolis.
I imagine myself, 60 years hence, dandling towheaded great-grandkids on my knee, spinning tales of The Draft, musty dives, and a home away from home... and then the children turn and say: "But we want dollar drafts, Grandpappy. We want them too." And I'll weep.
But this wasn't the time to blow funeral taps for cheap drinking. It was the time to have another beer — while we can. As I order another, Meklas hints that the clock may be running out even on the Wayside's dollar-beer special.
"[The distributors] went up on the kegs, just in the last couple of weeks." But that holy dollar draft, she says, "we're trying to keep it."
Lol wow this was such an interesting read . I don't even like reading stories in the paper n shit but this was exceptional
A little bit of Philly in Miami Springs...$2 (14 oz) Drafts...AND the best Philly Cheesesteak in town.
Any American Legion post has $1.50 draft (yuengling, amber bock, bud/bud light, and miller) all day every day!
Yep, times are changing. When I was younger, people would do slum bar crawls and have private parties and drink case after case of this cheap watered down beer, get bloated and often gotten sick and many times they would throw up. Now people spend more money drinking stronger better beer and they are conservative and careful on what they drink, and they actually appreciate the beer that they do consume.
Great read. I really felt like I was back in South Florida. My favorite was "No, bro. You should probably go home."
The drink$ in Miami are way too high! It should be considered price gouging to charge 6,7,8$ for a beer in this city!