Morales, the entrepreneur behind Wood Tavern, Las Rosas, and now B-Side, was relieved to find next to no damage at his Miami establishments. Not even the awnings were torn, he says. And aside from some shrubbery strewn about and the loss of power, Irma largely spared Las Rosas.
Posts on the bar's social media accounts were defiant in advance of the storm, with Las Rosas vowing to stay open the "same hours all week" unless "the power goes off or the police and city call a curfew."
"I hope this is a joke," one comment read. It wasn't.
"Boards are up and we are open," read a Thursday Instagram post showing Las Rosas' glass door and windows protected by plywood. The bar stayed open through Friday but closed once the curfew went into effect Saturday, for the safety of employees and patrons.
"It was slower those days leading up to [Irma]," Morales says. "As soon as we opened back up, we were actually maybe a little bit busier than a normal Wednesday or Thursday 'cause i guess people had cabin fever."
Las Rosas fared well enough for Morales to continue plans to expand the bar chosen by New Times as 2017's Best Bar in Central Miami-Dade. Just as he did with Wood Tavern years ago, Morales plans to open an outdoor bar at Las Rosas.
"I'm feeling very fortunate on all fronts," he says. "I really didn't know what was going to happen. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, Man, it's very possible to come back to total devastation."
Morales initially planned to evacuate to Savannah but was forced to detour when residents there were also advised to evacuate. He stayed with family in Atlanta, only to find they were later placed under a tropical storm warning for Irma. Now, because 2017 is a cruel joke pulled straight from the Book of Revelation, he watches carefully as Hurricane Maria follows Irma's devastating path.
Las Rosas. 2898 NW Seventh Ave., Miami; 786-780-2700; facebook.com/lasrosasmiami.
Wood Tavern. 2531 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-748-2828; woodtavern.com.