This past summer, it seemed all of Miami lined up along North Miami Avenue to bid farewell to one of the city's most beloved dance clubs, the Electric Pickle. Wait times at the door topped an hour, but partygoers were rewarded for their patience with the honor of taking part in the closing festivities of Wywnood's longest-running nightclub, one that punched well above its weight during its decade of existence.
Once the exterior neon sign proclaiming "Bar Open Liquor" switched off that Monday morning, owner Will Renuart promised he would take a long-needed break, which included traveling to Japan to take part in a traditional wedding ceremony with his wife, Sino.
When New Times pressed Renuart on whether he was considering opening another nightclub, he seemed in no rush to find a new venue. In fact, he admitted he was more excited about his other projects: the Miami Art Week festival Rakastella and his event series Where Are My Keys?
So it came as a surprise when the Electric Pickle announced a series of October pop-up events in conjunction with House of Death. When New Times phoned Renuart to ask him what became of the months of blissful rest, he admitted that ever since the Pickle's closure, he has been busier than ever. If fact, he left for Japan only recently. And when he returns to Miami, he'll have his hands full with the reopening of the Pickle's beloved mezcal bar, Melinda's, at the downtown lounge 1306.
That's not all.
Renuart is also working on ATV Records, a hybrid record store/nightclub that will completely transform 1306's former backroom. Beginning November 15, there will be no more 1306 — ATV Records and Melinda's will take its place.
In addition to Renuart, event producer Poplife, former Grand Central owner Brad Knoefler, and Casa Florida's Gaston Gonzalez are partners in the project.
Crate diggers looking to access ATV will have to go through the alley at the side of the venue. During the day, shelves will be filled with "cutting-edge dance music" bearing boutique labels from around the globe. DJ and nightlife fixture Taimur Agha will head the store, specializing in funk, disco, techno, house, and other experimental genres.
At night, according to marketing director Patrick Walsh, the shelves will be hoisted into the rafters to make room for a dance floor. Many elements from the Pickle's Bolero Room will make the move, including the entire upstairs bar and the UFO-shaped disco ball. Walsh says the room will fit about 150 people; for in-demand acts, the square footage can be expanded into the courtyard to accommodate a crowd of 300.
The Pickle's sound system was one of the city's best, so expect ATV's to be on par. In fact, ATV will see the audio setup upgraded to a four-point system that will allow patrons to feel the sound waves hitting them from all sides.
Also expect many of the same bookings the Pickle was known for, along with entries from Poplife's long list of music industry connections. In fact, Poplife, which began as an indie dance party in Coral Gables in 1999, will celebrate its 20th anniversary at ATV in November. (The Electric Pickle actually hosted Poplife's Saturday-night shindig in 2009 and 2010 before the party collective moved to the downtown music venue Grand Central.)
ATV's name, which stands for "Addicted to Vinyl," is a nod to the Pickle's former monthly pop-up record-store event and party of the same name.
Melinda's was short-lived — it opened during the Pickle's final year — but it quickly became a favorite among the late-night crowd thanks to its mezcal cocktails and simple but flavorful bites.
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For the bar's rebirth at 1306, Gonzalez, who runs the popular cocktail bar Casa Florida at the former Miami River Inn, will be in charge of all the food and beverages. Gonzalez says he's particularly excited to further flesh out the menu at Melinda's, which is named for Renuart's mother.
Recently, he hung out with the mezcaleria's namesake for inspiration. "I spent a whole day with Will's mother, hearing stories as we drank champagne," says Gonzalez, confirming the painting of Melinda that Renuart "borrowed" from his mother's home and hung prominently at the Pickle will return as a centerpiece in the new space.
Gonzalez intends to expand Melinda's food menu to include a raw bar and dishes cooked in a wood-fired oven. Also expanding is the floor space — Melinda's will occupy the small interior room and the entire covered outdoor area.
ATV Records and Melinda's. 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami.