A Little Havana institution is reopening its doors after shuttering with little fanfare in June.
This past August 19, the Miami Herald reported on the closure of Hoy Como Ayer — the storied music club located at 2212 SW Eighth St., in the heart of Calle Ocho's tourist district — more than a month after the venue ceased operations. According to the Herald, the club's owner, Fabio Díaz Vilela, was unable to secure an agreement to keep the establishment open once its 20-year lease agreement expired over the summer. The event was seen as a harbinger of closures to come in the neighborhood, where rents have increased for business owners while outside developers salivate to saturate the historic area with tourist attractions.
At the time, Díaz Vilela suggested he aimed to close the venue while it was still in its prime. But he also made a passing remark suggesting there "maybe" was a chance "for a new Hoy Como Ayer with another essence and particularity."
In a statement released this past Tuesday, Hoy Como Ayer announced it will open its doors at noon Sunday, October 6, after hosting a cocktail reception for members of the media Friday, October 4. The music club will be open Tuesday through Sunday from noon "until dawn," according to the statement.
Yani Gil, who is tasked with administrative duties at the revamped Hoy Como Ayer, says that reopening the club for a new generation was always the plan and that the club's new owners purchased the naming rights from Díaz Vilela. Gil says the club has been renovated to include a new stage, audio and light systems, and menu, as well as memorabilia from the old club and photo-op stations for guests.
The update, Gil says, is meant to better fit Hoy Como Ayer with the "vibe in the style of what's happening in Little Havana between Tenth and 17th [Avenues]." A notable competitor along that stretch is the historic Ball & Chain, which hosts live music daily indoors and outside on its famed Pineapple Stage, often for no cover. Both clubs cater to locals and tourists wanting to relive Old Havana's pre-revolution golden age, though Hoy Como Ayer's events have typically been pricey ticketed events.
Gil says the music club will continue to transport guests to the era of Benny Moré, with additional tributes paid to the Queen of Salsa.
"Celia Cruz gave life to this music," Gil says, lamenting that the Cuban singer doesn't have a permanent monument dedicated to her in Miami other than a star on the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame. The club aims to change that fact by displaying one of Cruz's dresses, which is marked with the singer's lipstick.
Hoy Como Ayer will also host its own walk of fame, whose stars will be added periodically beginning late October. The club's El Conuco project will pay tribute to Cuban street art and incorporate poetry and what Gil calls "rustic Cuban sounds."
Gil says she's been attending shows at Hoy Como Ayer since she was about 17 years old and names Spam Allstars among her favorite acts to see at the venue. She says her work with the revamped Hoy Como Ayer will allow her "to make an example of how one should pass along to new generations their connection to [their] roots."
Asked how regulars of the old club should expect to feel walking through the revamped space, Gil is optimistic. "For many, it's going to be a dream realized," she says, adding that the new management listened to input from longtime patrons, including requests for a larger dance floor. "They're going to feel so at home that the change is going to be instant."
Hoy Como Ayer. 2212 SW Eighth St., Miami; 786-343-2822.
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