Exit One Taproom opened its doors this past weekend in Florida City.
The 2,500-square-foot bar is named for its precise location: Exit 1 of Florida's Turnpike, the last stop before the Keys.
Florida City isn't exactly known as a craft beer destination, but Breezy Leza, who owns the bar with her daughter Natalie, hopes to change that fact. She was off to a good start opening night, when the bar tapped seven kegs, Leza says.
The new place is one of only a handful of beer bars in South Miami-Dade, Leza says. She hopes the new taproom will attract suds lovers from Miami to the Keys and elsewhere.
A resident of Cutler Bay for the past 18 years, Leza runs a general contracting business for residential and commercial remodeling. Though business was good, she became interested in the craft beer movement and began looking into opening a taproom.
In the course of her research, Leza and her daughter decided they wanted the bar to have an "industrial feel" while still being warm and accessible. Leza found a spot near the Turnpike exit, just off Krome Avenue, and secured the location right away.
From the bar's conception to its fruition, Leza says it took only ten months to open. She says she got lucky and credits support from the city's mayor, vice mayor, and the local beer community.
"It was a long ten months," she says. "We just decided that this is something we're very passionate about. We love the beer industry."
The craft beer scene in South Florida continues to grow, sprouting not only breweries but also bars such as Exit One. According to the Brewers Association, a nonprofit trade group representing small and independent brewers, Florida ranks tenth in the nation for the number of craft breweries.
Exit One is a family business. Leza's husband Auris, son Auddy, and sister-in-law Yasbel all help run the bar.
The taproom comprises a large indoor space adorned with murals, comfortable couches, an outdoor area, and a bar with a variety of beer styles on tap, including local offerings. The dog-friendly venue also plans to host live music and other activities.
They don't serve food, but Leza says the food truck Tacos & Tattoos will have a regular presence.
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There's still a lot in the works for Exit One. Leza is setting up a "library" for to-go package beer, and she plans to open an onsite brewery.
She's thinking of installing a ten-barrel brewhouse and wants to specialize in IPAs, including New England IPAs. For now, her husband is brewing batches on a five-gallon pilot system. They don't have a brewing license, which means they give away samples of homebrew. Aside from running the bar, Leza also tests the beer. "Everybody has to have a job, right?" she says.
"We want to bring that craft community to Florida City and South Miami-Dade so people have the opportunity to experience craft beer and its culture."
Exit One Taproom. 10 NE Third St., #30, Florida City; 305-812-4764; exitonetaproom.com. Tuesday through Thursday 4 to 11 p.m., Friday noon to 1 a.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.