When Tobacco Road closed its doors on October 25, 2014, it was the end of an era. Miami's oldest bar, around in some incarnation or another for over 100 years, was gone. The building, which had more than shown its age, had been reduced to rubble, demolished in the name of progress. Yet, with this grim reality came the promise of a new Tobacco Road.
Current owner Joel Rivera was Road's former general manager. He secured the name and assets from Tobacco Road's then-owners, determined to return the Road to its former glory. Now, the realization is becoming a reality, with Rivera finalizing the deal for the new site.
The new Road is located in the shadows of where the old Tobacco Road stood at 69 SW Seventh St. With the lease a done deal, build out and renovations can start on the triangular building that was formerly City Electric Supply. Rivera tells New Times that he is excited to finally be able to go forward with his plans. "I've worked at the Road since i was 17 years old. There is too much history behind this bar to let it die out. Tobacco Road was more than just a building. Our guests, staff, history and artists made it what it was, and we're excited to bring that vibe to the new location located just across the parking lot."
The new location is scheduled to open some time in January 2016, with new owner, Joel Rivera planning to combine the old with the new for this Tobacco Road experience. The 3,500 square foot restaurant/music venue will feature salvaged Dade county pine throughout the structure to give a nostalgic vibe to the place. Key features from the original bar, like the bar top and the iconic neon sign were salvaged before the demo and will take their places in the new location.
Tobacco Road memorabilia like old hand bills, event fliers, and photos that lined the walls of the old Road will decorate the walls of the new place. What will be new (and improved) are the kitchen, bathrooms, and infrastructure, which were out of date decades ago. As Rivera puts it, "It might look like the old Road, but it won't smell like it."
Tobacco Road's musical roster will also be given a reboot, with a spokesperson for the Road adding that it "will always feature top local and national acts, but styles and genres will be updated to match what fans and guests from the changing neighborhood appreciate."
Tobacco Road will also be setting out to sea, starting November 2015, when Norwegian Cruise Line's Escape begins sailing from her home port of Miami. The Tobacco Road bar will feature a replica of the Tobacco Road sign, along with a collection of memorabilia. Cocktail Collection's Leo Holtzman will create a menu of cocktails for the bar, completing the experience. Tobacco Road at Sea will join other Miami favorites on the ship, including Wynwood Brewing Company and the Pubbelly Boys.
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Tobacco Road is the bar that refuses to go gently into that good night. The Road may be gone for now, but its food truck is still serving favorite grub in the site's parking lot.
In addition, the Road's annual crawfish boil is set to take place this Sunday, April 19 from noon to 6 p.m. in the old Tobacco Road parking lot. The no-cover event will feature seafood from partners the River Seafood and Oyster Bar and Rosey Baby, including 20,000 crawfish. The event will have beer and live music by Eric Vick Band plus DJ Oski.
So, this Sunday, look to the east and give a toast to the past, then give a nod to the future of Tobacco Road — directly to your west.