Transit Lounge Owner Will Edwards Addresses Club's Sudden Closure

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Early Sunday afternoon, we here at Crossfade reported that First Avenue boozing spot and music venue Transit Lounge had been "gutted" and shuttered over the weekend.

Unlike Transit's near-demise in April, employees and regulars received no advance notice. There was no official explanation. And after several attempts to contact him by phone, we still had no word from the club's owner, Will Edwards.

But then yesterday, Edwards addressed the club's sudden closure with a lengthy blog comment that began, "Dear Miami New Times ..."

In Sunday's post, we noted the admittedly strange circumstances surrounding Transit's final hours, including the deletion of the venue's Facebook page, while also relaying bartender Elena S. Davila's account of the closure, which included accusations of mismanagement and neglect.

Of course, the club's owner did not appreciate that version of things. And he fired back against New Times. "Of all the articles [about Transit] you have covered, I have never commented, regardless of others' comments or incorrect allegations," he wrote. "This time, however, is different."

He then went into a long retelling of the Transit story and its recent struggle to stay in business despite "the economy," pressure from "a multinational developer," mortgage woes, Brickell's changing demographics, and "employee theft and childish gossip."

Finally, he expressed regret to Transit's former staff ("I understand the anger of the staff, and I apologize that it was done abruptly and without notice") before turning his attention to Ms. Davila.

"If you want to criticize me go ahead," Edwards wrote. "Have your best shot and believe me you are nothing compared to the multinational developers and their teams of lawyers that I have fought and beat."

"However, when you start criticizing a new business in one of the most difficult economic climates ever, you are hurting people that you don't even know. It's immature, selfish and, frankly, borderline libelous."

"I have hired several of the Transit staff to come over to my new ventures and have already given several letters of reccomendation," he continued. "I will call more this week but clearly there are some that I will not call. Yes Elena your are one that I will not be calling but I sincerely do wish you the best."

Later on Monday afternoon, we also spoke with Edwards by phone, hoping for further insight into the situation that led to Transit's closure -- not to mention those cryptic references to "employee theft" as well as the future of his previously announced nightclub project, Avenue D Jazz & Blues Lounge, in Downtown Miami.

But Edwards wasn't especially interested in submitting to an in-depth interview. "I really don't want to get into much of this," he insisted. "I said what I really need to say on my [blog] comments."

However, he was extremely upset over "violent and threatening" reader feedback. "It's absolutely out of control," Edwards seethed. "It's a shitty situation. But the long and short of it is it's a bar that went out of business. It's not the end of the world."

On the demise of Transit, he would only say, "It's a situation where the rumors got out and everybody thought that Transit was already closed. The rumor mill is just out of control, and based in hypothesis and not in fact."

Beyond that, Edwards said, "Honestly, it's a chapter in my life that's over. I don't want to keep talking about it. I don't want to harp on it. I don't want to create more fodder for these people who've lost their jobs, who I sincerely feel bad for."

As far as Avenue D, the project is apparently still in progress. (It remains listed on the official Sprockets & Co website under "venues" and its official website continues to proclaim "Coming Soon To Downtown.") But Edwards refuses to comment on his Jazz and Blues Lounge's status, saying, "I'm not even going to address it. I don't even want to talk about anything else that I'm doing. No way."

"What's relevant now is Transit, getting people jobs, and making sure everybody's taken care of," Edwards concludes. "That's the focus. Not anything else."

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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