Wynwood mainstay Gramps has reopened its Pizza Tropical window to offer pies, wings, and cocktails for takeout. Delivery is also on the way.
To the thousands of regulars who flocked to the bar for happy hour, dates, and general socializing, reopening represents more than the availability of drinks and snacks. Gramps owner Adam Gersten says the move brings a small sense of normalcy in these irregular times. "This is what places that are community staples do," he says. "[Things are] definitely not normal — it's not the same, but we are the same."
Gersten closed up shop in March a few days before an emergency order required it. "I thought it was the right thing to do," he tells New Times, explaining he announced the decision during a meeting with the bar's 30 employees. "We were all ready to pivot to takeout mode, but I suggested we just close until we have more information."
A little more than a month later, a few things have changed. The bar owner was approved for a forgivable loan under the federal Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), which will cover payroll for eight weeks. That said, he's aware not all of his employees may be in a position to return to work. "I'm aware that people can't work for whatever reason," Gersten says. "We're working with everyone. People can come and go."
Gersten acknowledges he was fortunate to snag a PPP loan. "We're lucky we work with a small bank. We stayed on top of the application, and we have always kept detailed books," he says, citing his eight-year relationship with Bank OZK, which operates a branch in Wynwood. "We are putting people back on payroll for eight weeks and see what we can project after that."
Additionally, Gersten was approved to receive $100,000 from the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, which is administered by the state's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). He says he would prefer not to have to touch that money. (Unlike the PPP loan, the DEO money must be repaid.)
Gersten and his crew have made a few coronavirus-related improvements, such as installing Plexiglas shields at takeout windows and additional sinks for hand-washing, and spray-painting six-foot markers on the floor. And, for now, the venue will operate on a cashless system.
Gramps is offering pizza, cocktails, liquor, beer, and wine; Gersten says he'll offer delivery online as soon as he can get an in-house system up and running. "The future is the past," the bar owner says. "If you wanted a pizza, you'd go right to the pizza place. That's what we're doing now. It's been too easy to get sucked into all those digital tools."
Gersten doesn't foresee reopening the indoor bar's on-premises service anytime soon — even if the city and county lift restrictions. That said, he notes that the property's outdoor space offers possibilities, even under physical-distancing requirements. "There is no timeline for me right now to allow a human inside a closed building that isn't an employee. Right now, we are only open for takeout," he says. "But, yes, the outside space is ideal for some sort of social-distancing experience when the time is right."
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He doesn't envision any live music for a long time.
So, for now, Gramps fans can comfort themselves with Pizza Tropical's pies ($24 to $28), wings ($12), and batched cocktails ($40). The online menu will soon include a handful of market goods, along with items from some friends of the Wynwood hangout.
And Gramps is back for good, Gersten promises. "We're going to stay open no matter what."
Pizza Tropical at Gramps to Go. 176 NW 24th St., Miami; pizzatropical.com. Daily noon to 9:30 p.m. for takeout only. Delivery coming soon.