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Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar

The man, the legend, Mac Klein.
The man, the legend, Mac Klein.
Photo by Laurie Charles

Bottles of Patrón, Stoli, Cîroc, and Hennessey line the floor-to-ceiling shelves of Mac Klein's closet-sized office in the back of the sticky floor and smoky room of Mac's Club Deuce.

Somewhere in between a wooden desk and a stack of books, newspaper clippings, and portraits of a handsome 20-something-year-old Klein in a World War II military uniform, was a cushioned leather seat and an orange case of liquor.

"Pick a chair," Klein chivalrously offered.

As I squeezed my way toward the bottles, Klein began talking about his upcoming birthday September 19.

"You don't run the Deuce looking 99," he laughed.

See also: Ten Best Bars on South Beach

Times may have drastically changed since Klein officially took ownership of the SoBe mainstay in 1964, but Club Deuce has remained untouched.

"What you saw 50 years ago is what you see today," Klein explains. "That actually is the bar. To me, the Club Deuce is a beautiful woman that never gets old. She's the lady."

Having owned Club Deuce half his life, Klein has seen and lived through it all, from the Cocaine Cowboys era to Miami Vice to Anthony Bourdain.

In honor of Klein's 99, here are nine of the most memorable moments at Club Deuce.

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar
Photo by Liam Crotty

Klein's 50 Birthdays

"My 50 birthdays here have been wonderful," Klein recalls. "I realized I've lived another year."

Although Klein's not too keen on big bashes, he suspects his staff has something up their sleeve for the 19th.

"I cannot stop what others do, but as for I, it's just another day."

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar
Photo by Laurie Charles

Miami Vice Wrap Party

"They threw the wrap party here," he says, which turned out to be one hell of a party.

Klein even kept the official thank you letter that proves that "even Don Johnson felt comfortable being there. And, of course, Michael Talbott was thrilled to be a guest bartender at the Club Deuce."

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar
Photo by Jacob Katel

The Day Klein Became Owner

"The man who owned it [Club Deuce] died the same hour my daughter was born. I came here for a drink and found out that the he [Harold Schwartz] had died."

And long behold, Club Deuce became Mac's.

"Deuce is the number two. The address is 222. I just added the Mac's," he explains as the only change he made to the bar.

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar
Photo by Jacob Katel

The Fire That Saved the Bar

"A couple of months after I bought the bar, a restaurant on the corner caught fire and the fire department hosed down the bar."

"A few days later, the insurance company sent a man who looked like he was in his 80's to evaluate it. About 10 minutes after he left, he returned and his face was pale. He told me, 'Something terrible has happened to me.' I said, 'What is it?' He told me he had gotten a parking ticket. At the time, it was $1. I said, 'Don't worry about it. I have friends who'll take care of it.'"

"When he came back, I told him my friends took care of it and he immediately took care of my damages."

Not a bad exchange.

Did Humphrey Bogart have a few brewskies at Club Deuce? Mac will never tell.
Did Humphrey Bogart have a few brewskies at Club Deuce? Mac will never tell.
Photo by Laurie Charles

Meeting Miami's Most Interesting Characters

Once you step foot into Club Deuce, you can't help but notice the life-size poster of Humphrey Bogart.

"Many characters, which should be left unmentioned, have come here," admits Klein. "You can't be 50 years in the bar business without meeting these people."

"Jackie Gleason may have been here. Practically everybody in one time or another has been here. A good bar owner is one who speaks of everything and says nothing."

Well said, Mac.

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar
Photo by Jacob Katel

Surviving the Cocaine Cowboys Era

"We had locks on the door sometimes," recalls Klein.

"It was a dangerous time in the sense that things happened here that have never happened before and thank God, will hopefully never happen again."

Mac's Club Deuce Owner Turns 99! His Top 9 Moments From Miami's Best Dive Bar

Becoming Anthony Bourdain's Favorite Bar In Miami

"You know, Anthony Bourdain likes coming here," he said with a sense of pride on his face.

He rummaged through a drawer and took out a piece of paper that was rolled up like a scroll.

"I'm gonna show you something, but this you can't take."

As he unrolled the paper, there was a picture of Anthony Bourdain wearing a Mac's Club Deuce t-shirt and puffing out a cloud of smoke.

On Tuesdays, the Tom Jones boys dominate the pool table.
On Tuesdays, the Tom Jones boys dominate the pool table.
Photo by Laurie Charles

Tom Jones Tuesday

Although Klein can write a book about the things he's seen at 222 14th Street, his bartenders are the ones who face the bizarre and local customers who frequent the bar on a daily basis.

Mel Bedwell has been manning the bar since 2010.

"Every day is a different day at the Club Deuce," fesses Bedwell.

"During Art Basel, we get a lot of the artists. We also get all the chefs during the South Beach Food & Wine Festival like Guy Fieri. Anthony Bourdain stops by anytime he films in Miami. They just hang out for a while."

"But every Tuesday, we call it Tom Jones Tuesday," laughs Bedwell. "It's five or six regulars that are older gentlemen who come and play Tom Jones every Tuesday. They bring their own Tom Jones music and sing along to it while drinking beer and shooting pool."

Ninety-nine years, what it takes to become the best.
Ninety-nine years, what it takes to become the best.
Photo by Laurie Charles

Being Named the Best Bar in Miami

Klein hands me an article from CNN Travel. On it is a picture of the neon lights, mirrors, and pool table of Club Deuce.

"We were named the best bar by CNN," he said with a pearly white grin on his face.

While CNN Travel may have just discovered Klein's "Shangri-La" as one of the 9 classic U.S. dive bars, Mac's Club Deuce has been recognized as the best by Playboy, Esquire, and of course, the New Times.

"We are the mainstay," Klein brags. "I have people who have been coming here for 20 years who every time they step foot into in here, they feel 20 years younger."

"It's everybody's bar. It's your hometown bar and that's why we keep it."

Happy Birthday, Mac! Here's to many more.

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Mac's Club Deuce

222 14th St.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-531-6200


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