Yesterday we learned that Icon Nightclub had officially shut its doors after nine months in business. But it was unclear what would become of the iconic Washington Avenue venue that had been home to Mansion and Level — and had been owned by folks such as Prince and Al Capone at different points in time.
On Icon's marquee, a message reads, "Miami Copa Room coming soon." Today, after getting in touch with Copa Room's owner, Shawn Shahnazi, we know more about the new venue.
Copa Room will indeed take over Icon's space, even though Cameo's address is listed on its website. According to Shahnazi, the original idea was to build Copa Room in Cameo's building, but when Icon became available, he changed plans, and the website still hasn't been updated.
Shahnazi has been in the South Florida nightlife industry for about 30 years. He has owned a slew of bars and restaurants in the area and currently runs Wynwood's Prohibition Restaurant & Speakeasy.
But Copa Room will be unlike anything he's opened before. Asked to describe the concept, Shahnazi draws a comparison: "It's very similar to what Coco Bongo is in Cancun," he says. "It's a lot of Las Vegas-style shows, nightclub acts, entertainers, nightlife — all mixed into one."
Despite the name, Shahnazi hesitates to call Copa Room a Latin venue. "We have a Latin flair, but it's not going to be Latin," he asserts. Copa Room doesn't appear to be vying for a seat at the table with traditional Miami clubs such as LIV, Story, and Space. Rather, Copa Room is after a slice of the profits Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive has been enjoying — without much competition — for years. "We're going to be — I hate to use the word — but we'll probably be Mango's on steroids."
Shahnazi isn't hiding the fact that it's mainly tourists he's after, and he says he's already working with around 90 hotels on Miami Beach to sell tickets in their lobbies. "We're going after just about all the tourists that come to Miami. We're really not looking for the elite or the one percenters or the VIPs."
Admission to Copa Room won't work like most clubs in Miami. To get in the door, guests will pay a flat rate. Once inside, drinks will be unlimited from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. "There's never been an all-inclusive nightclub in Miami," Shahnazi says. "All the shows — legitimate, artistic shows, not just two dancers on the stage — everything is all included. So you basically go there, have a good time. You don't have to worry about paying the $20 Miami drink prices on the Beach."
As it stands now, admission will be $80 on weekdays and $100 on weekends, with a more expensive option to gain access to the second floor and a wider selection of drinks. The club will be open Wednesday through Sunday. To help lure locals, Shahnazi plans to implement a discount for Florida residents of around $20.
Copa Room won't have the typical picky doorman either. And everyone, from corporate folks in suits to bros at a bachelor party, will get in.
With a staff of about 25 professional entertainers ranging from dancers and singers to acrobats, Copa Room will be an interactive experience, but it won't have a traditional live band.
Shahnazi's goal is to be open by Halloween weekend — even if it's just a soft opening; worst-case scenario, mid-November at the latest.
Copa Room is certainly unlike anything on the Beach right now, and it's a grand departure from the last three clubs that filled this space. It remains to be seen how locals will react to the tourist-driven motivations of the venue, but then again, locals have never really been the ones keeping South Beach clubs afloat, especially since the EDM explosion.
Will it work? Questions like this are useless on the Beach. That's the tough part about the nightlife industry: You don't know until it's too late.