It was the nightlife spot on NE 14th Street that became one of the city's most infamous watering holes until it closed in July 2011. A lot of people were involved with it, but the main contributors were Raul Sanchez (now of Peachfuzz fame), Pres Rodriguez, and the onetime Miami gallery OHWOW (which has since relocated to Los Angeles).
Well, surprise! It's back -- sort of.
Sidebar -- a new bar and music venue opening on the western fringes of Brickell in the 337 SW Eighth St. building that used to house PAX (yet another shuttered Miami club) -- isn't exactly a reincarnation of Bar.
Especially since the OHWOW folks aren't planning on establishing a Miami presence again. (Who could fucking blame them? They've blown up big since making the West Coast move.) But Sanchez is definitely back. And arguably, he was responsible for steering Bar through its short-lived success.
What's he been up to since Bar closed? Well, some of Bar's employees went on to open another venue, Mamushka's, which is also now closed, while Sanchez went back to promoting. His biggest claim to fame remains the wildly successful Peachfuzz party on Friday nights at the Garret.
Last night, during our short visit of the Sidebar space, Sanchez told us he's hoping to bring back some of the same ethos and elements of Bar, including nonfussy drinks, forward-thinking programming, and, of course, art.
Bar was known for redesigning itself every couple of months, having a local or visiting artist come in and redo the whole place. Unfortunately, Sidebar is way too big for that to feasibly happen, but Sanchez says art will be incorporated into the space somehow.
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And he has already tapped a former Bar cohort, the aforementioned Pres Rodriguez (who created the 28 NE 14th St. spot's minimalistic logo and curated its art programming), for a Sidebar logo design.
There's also a proper stage, left over from the building's PAX days, but the location's sound is getting a notable upgrade. Panels have been installed on the ceiling to provide better acoustics, and the sound system from a former South Beach nightclub (Louis, to be exact) was purchased.
The space was still very much a work in progress when we visited. We bumped into Marilyn Rondón, the artist responsible for the "Latina Seeks Thug" installation at Little Haiti Country Club, painting the women's bathroom. And there's construction material all over. Still, Sanchez says Sidebar will open tomorrow for a Halloween-night soft opening, followed by a proper grand opening next week.
Sanchez says when the venue does finally get going, it will operate probably six days a week (closed on Mondays), and he promises to bring back Bar's infamous Ladies' Night party on Tuesdays. And yes, we asked, and the answer is no, Peachfuzz will remain at the Garret.
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But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the project is its not-in-downtown-or-Wynwood location. Of course, a bar in Brickell isn't exactly revolutionary, but Sidebar's target audience probably isn't flooding the neighborhood just yet. However, as more and more people decamp from Wynwood into areas like Little Havana, Sanchez and crew seem to be in a good position to become a clubhouse of sorts for local artists and hipsters.
Crossfade will have more details on the new space and future programming as the grand opening nears.
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