For over a century it was the home of bootleggers, gangsters, hookers, musicians, and people just in need of booze and a burger.
Now, come sunrise October 26, Tobacco Road, the oldest bar I n Miami, is closing its colorful doors. Starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 25, the Road will host a closing party that will last all night. At 5 a.m., the bar will announce a final last call, shuttering a true Miami icon.
In 2012, the land on which Tobacco Road lies was purchased for $12.5 million. Although the bar has a lease running through May 2015, the decision to close was made by its owners, partly due to road construction. James Goll, marketing director for Tobacco Road explains. "The plans were to remain open as long as possible, but with construction it's tough to get to the Road. That makes it difficult for customers and it makes it difficult to make up for lost revenue when you're serving two dollar beers."
Goll said that employees, many of them working at Tobacco Road for years, were notified at a group meeting. "Joel Riviera, who's been operating manager for over 15 years, gave a speech letting them know they were all family and he doesn't want that family to dissipate."
In fact, Riviera is fighting hard to keep his Road family intact. He's starting a Kickstarter campaign that goes live in a few days. The goal is to raise a minimum of $50,000 so Tobacco Road can be resurrected nearby. Goll explains that's the minimum amount to not only establish Tobacco Road at a new location, but to also salvage the history of the bar. "We're trying to take down as much of the facade as possible, along with hundreds of pictures and flyers of all the bands that have performed here over the decades."
Another piece of memorabilia to be saved: the Tobacco Road neon sign. "We want to take down and preserve the neon sign. If it can survive Hurricane Andrew, it can survive this."
Once live, the Kickstarter campaign will be the place to purchase tickets for the closing party, commemorative last call t-shirts, coasters, and tickets to the grand reopening party, whenever and wherever that is.
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In the interim, a Tobacco Road food truck, provided by Latin Burger, will serve Tobacco Road's famous burgers in the parking lot. Delivery will also be available. Unfortunately, you'll have to provide your own beer, although memories are included.