Lester's. It sounds like a Milwaukee dive bar where steelworkers make eyes at Doreen, the sassy bartender with a heart of gold. But not Lester's in Miami. Here it will be a coffee shop/bar with a simple concept and a chic, clean, sleek look.
Artist Dan Milewski is opening Lester's in Wynwood, tentatively by the end of this month. There's no kitchen, so food isn't the focus, but the place will offer premade snacks such as cookies, muffins, and empanadas. A high-end espresso machine will brew nice cups o' quality joe, according to Milewski: "I get the beans direct from Guatemala." Straight from Mother Earth to your fancy cup.
Lester's will be a neighborhood spot where, Milweski says, you can "camp out with your laptop" and enjoy free Wi-Fi. "The only place to really do that is Starbucks, and nobody really wants to go there." For real.
Milweski is an artist, having recently shown his work alongside that of Bhakti Baxter and Marcos Valella in a group exhibit at his wife Nina Johnson's Gallery Diet in Wynwood. He also had a solo show at Dimensions Variable in the Design District.
He's been working on opening Lester's for about a year. "It's not something that I'd say I always wanted to do," Milweski says, "but I had a lot of conversations with friends of mine, other artists, and people in the community, and everyone said, like, 'We need like a place in the neighborhood or something where you can just, like, go in and get a drink, that's not like a club, but it's more like a lounge, or someplace you can get coffee, buy cigarettesm or something like that.'"
The idea is to "give people a bunch of quality stuff at a decent price."
Wynwood is scattered with new and newish eateries, but Lester's will be a place you can pop in and take a break from gallery walking. "People need other destinations besides those exhibition spaces," Milweski says.
Though there won't be chow, there will be plenty of beer and wine. The wine selection will include about a dozen options from smaller vineyards around Europe and California, and as far as beer is concerned, "It's mostly craft beer, for the most part. We'll probably have some standards, but mostly it'll be like craft microbrew beer, and there'll be a big range of price with that stuff too." What's his favorite craft beer? "Anything that's an IPA, I'm usually into, just 'cause I like the flavor. I'm not really prejudiced; I'll drink just about any." Fair enough.
This 1,200-square-foot-spot will also house a large selection of magazines, books, and journals, including n+1, and will be the only place you can get the free Brooklyn Rail outside of NYC. This includes art criticism, theater, music, and poetry. Milweski wants to give Miami's literary community an alternative to Books & Books. Not that there's anything wrong with B&B, but there's not one in the downtown area. Milweski says, with "the magazines and literature, it's a little more... I don't know what the right term is -- I hate to say intellectual, because it sounds really pretentious, but maybe just a little smarter and a little quieter, maybe?" The space will also potentially offer live music, book signings, and trunk shows.
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The wooden furniture will offer warmth, and watch out for the full wall of mustaches. "What I've done is, I have all these picture store frames, and then I pulled all these pictures off the Internet of guys with mustaches, and then I put them up all over the walls." He wanted an "old-school northern bar kind of like atmosphere." Old guys with mustaches pretty much does the job well.
Lester's (2519 NW Second Ave., Miami) will open at 9 a.m. when the galleries get going, and close around 10 or 11 p.m., depending on traffic. On weekends, expect the bar to be open later.