Plans emerge to save Miami's oldest bar as owners announce sale of Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road, a lone relic of Miami’s exceptionally transient nightlife scene, is preparing for major changes. With intensified constuction in Brickell and a lease that’s running out of time, the owners are planning to sell the 101-year-old business.

Co-owner Patrick Gleber says that he and his partners have agreed to “let, and help, the current staff of about 30 people buy the place they built.” Many of these employees have been working at the historic bar for more than 15 years. It was a collective idea to “buy the Road” and move it to a location around the corner at 69 SW 7th St., where the bar’s current owners have access to the lease.

Just last month, Tobacco Road unveiled “The Cocktail Collection” with major renovations to its space on the second floor. Gleber teamed up with local mixologist Leo Holtzman to create a cocktail bar with a throwback speakeasy vibe — despite impending doom. In 2012, the group Tobacco Road Property Holdings purchased the land and gave the bar a three-year lease that expires in 2015.

Impassioned employees are launching a fundraising campaign (potentially via Kickstarter) to raise funds to buy the bar. They’ll need to come up with about $2 million, according to Gleber, who also says donors will receive gift cards, shirts, tickets to events, and other rewards for their contributions. Additionally, supporters will be able to literally own a piece of the reincarnated Tobacco Road by purchasing bricks that will display their names in the new building. 

The pace of the fundraising will determine the timing of the sale and the move. Gleber hopes it all happens by the end of the year. Updates will be shared on the bar’s Facebook page as the campaign continues to develop.