"Liquor in the front, party in the rear."
That's the motto of The Bend Liquor Lounge, a new '70s-style boozing spot in Miami Lakes.
But it's also a snappy way to describe the former occupant of 6844 NW 169 St., a strip-mall dive (and 2013 recipient of New Times' Best of Miami award for Bar, North) called Our Place.
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On May 2, 2014, Our Place Lounge got busted by local police and the feds for selling legal drinks in the front room while running an illegal poker game and peddling contraband (including cocaine, weed, and molly) in the back room.
But today, The Bend operates a clean business.
Owned by architect Landy Lamas and builder Mo Lacayo, the joint has swapped Our Place's illegal poker for vintage arcade games like Galaga. And it's dropped the no-name drafts (not to mention cocaine, weed, and molly) in favor of classic and craft brews.
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"Beers cost as little as $2.50 cans to $4 or $6 pints," Lamas says. "And we have everything from old-man beers like Miller High Life, Rolling Rock, Coors Banquet tall boys and PBR, which can be ordered as Boilermaker Combos, to a well-rounded craft beer selection on tap and in bottles and cans.
"We will also carry Miami beers from Biscayne Bay Brewing, Wynwood Brewing, Gravity Brewlab, and MIA, as well as many other Florida and American crafts. There are some great imports from Belgium and Germany too."
And yes, The Bend is just as serious about its harder booze.
"Our cocktails include a Dark n' Stormy, always $5 when it's raining outside," he points out. "There's also a Moscow Mule, The Bend Old Fashioned, a Bee's Knees, a classically prepared daiquiri, and a proper mai-tai.
"Cocktails are $7 to $8 and $2 off during happy hour, from 3 to 8 p.m. daily. And there is a Highball Happy Hour we are offering as well. Harvey Wallbangers are available upon request!"
"This was our local watering hole, our favorite dive until it started going downhill," Lamas says.
And he adds: "It's notoriety as it was operated was not part of the reason we decided to open there. We are architects and builders who specialize in bar and restaurant design, so we recognized it for the gem that it is."
As admirers of Our Place's retro vibe and '70s design flourishes, Landy and Mo preserved the joint's hexagon bar. They also kept the quirky diagonal wood paneling and mirrors that covered its walls. And the old cigarette machine is still tucked into a corner too.
But 6844 NW 169 St. also got a major overhaul.
"We stripped it down of all finishes, furniture, and flooring," he explains, "and we updated them to '70-inspired finishes and trim, but we were very careful not to make it themed. No disco balls or Saturday Night Fever."
"The bar was opened in the '70s, but had been muddled up by shabby remodels. After stripping it down to its bones, we could appreciate its original spirit and decided to build on it. The '70s was a key time for the development of the area and we thought of nothing more fitting for a quote-unquote local bar."
And like every neighborhood boozing spot, everyone is welcome at The Bend.
Although, Lamas laughs, "We politely asked all the drug dealers not to come back."
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