It began as a bakery, a presumable front for a Prohibition-era speakeasy complete with hidden rooms and rumrunners. And after 100 years at 626 S. Miami Avenue, Tobacco Road's still in the booze business.
Sadly, however, the city's oldest bar may be in jeopardy.
Carlos J. Mattos, founder and president of Hyundai Colombia Automotriz, recently purchased the land Tobacco Road sits on for $12.5 million, according to the Daily Business Review, which broke the story, and South Florida Buisness Journal.
Though the bar will remain open for a minimum of three more years at its current location, rumors of redevelopment are already surfacing.
In its article today, South Florida Business Journal reports that:
Mattos' group, Tobacco Road Property Holdings, bought an assemblage along South Miami Avenue, which includes a parking lot to the west. As part of the deal, Tobacco Road and the The River Seafood & Oyster Bar have a lease-back that keeps them there for at least three years.
According to SFBJ's source, Fortune International Realty's Fabio Faerman, Mattos would consider keeping Tobacco Road at its longtime location after the three-year deal expires. But tearing down the entire commercial strip on S. Miami Avenue and offering tenants space in a new building is also an option.
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Some folks, however, think that keeping Tobacco Road "as is" would be the best option.
"It's Miami's oldest bar, liquor license #1," says Forward Motion Records' Fernando Perdomo. "The Miami Historical Society will save it. If not, it's just another death blow to Miami live music."
Mark Weisner of Entertainment Miami says, "I think it would be advantageous for anyone who wanted to purchase the property and develop the property to keep Tobacco Road the way it is. It'd be an asset to have the oldest bar, restaurant, and cabaret close to your development."