Every year, tourists from around the world flock to Miami for its renowned nightlife, but many are turned away by arrogant doormen adhering to strict dress codes and charging astronomical entrance fees. VIP lists and designer duds don't matter to at least one doorman in South Florida: Chris Hubbard.
Better known as Mr. C by his many fans, the 51-year-old, quick-witted, British-born bouncer has been greeting guests at Churchill's Pub, the gritty Little Haiti rock mainstay, for half a decade.
He moved to Florida from London in 1986 after his older brother — who'd been living in Miami for two years — suggested he visit South Florida. "He kept bugging me to come and used to send postcards of girls with the thong on the beach," he says. "He'd write, 'C'mon, Chris, they're all waiting for you.'"
He planned to return home quickly but fell in love with the Magic City. It wasn't the first time Hubbard had lived on American soil. His parents met in England after World War II and raised the family on a U.S. military base. "My dad is American, mother's British, so, you know, I guess I'm half American."
Once settled here, Hubbard met a British woman, married her, and welcomed two boys, Thomas and Matthew.
To make ends meet, he drove limousines and ran a small shop in Kendall — Hubbard's Cupboard — with his brothers and Churchill's owner Dave Daniels. "It was a good little business the first three or four years," he says. "We sold all English products: the candies, beers — I'm talking about heavy ones — the newspapers, all the teas."
When the shop closed, Daniels lured Hubbard to Little Haiti.
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"The first six months I was a bit scared," Hubbard admits, but he got used to the echoes of not-so-distant gunshots and police sirens. "We are technically in the hood, but it's a friendly bar; it really is."
According to Hubbard, 90 percent of the people at Churchill's are regulars, and over the years, many of them have become friends. He lives in a spacious flat above a candle store just eight blocks south of the pub. His small terrier, which he found outside Churchill's and appropriately named Winston, keeps him company. He's divorced, and his two sons live in Los Angeles. The apartment is neatly decorated with photographs of him shaking Queen Elizabeth's hand at Vizcaya and several pictures of Princess Diana — including a cardboard cutout — that remind him of home. But Miami is where he plans to stay.
"I always say, and pardon the expression, assholes will meet assholes, and good people will meet good people," he says. "When I go, I want to be buried in my [Churchill's] chair with two boxes of wristbands, 'cause I'm working the gate; they won't need Saint Peter anymore."
Tara Solomon | BooksIIII Bischof>>