Jimbo’s, a staple on Miami’s Virginia Key since the 1950s, will close before March ends, the owner’s daughter said this week.
“Nobody wants to see it end,” said Gail Araujo, daughter of owner James “Jimbo” Luznar. “But it’s reached a time where it needs to end.”
Araujo said she and her sister Marilyn Fujarczyk were granted power of attorney for their parents on Feb. 24. Since then, the sisters decided that it’s time for their parents to retire.
Jimbo’s quirky bait shack/watering hole/gypsy camp has sat beside a mangrove lagoon on Virginia Key since 1954, when Jimbo and his uncle, both shrimpers, were run off from the bayside spot where they operated to make way for The Miami Herald’s present building. In exchange, the city allowed them — without a lease or any sort of written agreement — to move their shrimp boats to a secluded spot across from a sewage-treatment plan on publicly owned Virginia Key, then considered a wasteland
Since then, Jimbo’s has served as a backdrop for various movies and TV shows, from Flipper in the 1960s to today’s Dexter. But Jimbo’s fell on hard times after a December 2009 electrical fire prompted the city to cut off power, but the place remained open on generator power. The main shack recently was replaced with a metal shipping container, although customers still sit outside enjoying the shrimp, smoked fish and cheap beer that make up pretty much the entire Jimbo’s menu.
But “what it is today is not what it was originally,” Araujo said. “Financially, the business isn’t making it.”
She, along with Fujarczyk, and brothers Jimmy “Bubba” Luznar and Robert “Bobby” Luznar, grew up going to Jimbo’s, she said. She said she has wonderful memories from the place and knows how important it is to the family and to thousands of Jimbo’s friends.
Despite Bubba and Bobby’s efforts in the past few years, including a clean-up in October and replacing the main shack that sells smoked fish, cheap beer and shrimp, Araujo said the stress of the business and the lack of financial improvement drove her and her sister to make the final decision.
“It’s affecting both my parents,” Araujo said about Jimbo and his wife Ruby, both of whom are suffering from health problems. She said she’s sure stress from Jimbo’s is the root of the problems. Her dad is 85, mom 82.
Jimbo has been dealing with a fractured vertebra and Ruby was recently hospitalized for blood-pressure issues.
She said closing Jimbo’s is for her parents’ best interest.
Araujo said she hopes to close the shop before the week is through. Jimbo’s beer license will run out March 31, and it will not be renewed, she said.
“Hopefully, Jimbo’s will go out quietly and with the respect my dad deserves,” she said.
Still, other family members and fans aren’t sure that the shop will close forever.
Robert Burr, a close family friend and the maintainer of Jimbo’s website and email list, said he hopes Jimbo’s would continue to clean up its act to bring back movie studios, but he also understands that Araujo is trying to respect the wishes of her parents.
Burr said fans of Jimbo expect “Save Jimbo’s” calls and emails through the years. But Araujo said this is not one of the times her parents want fans to contribute to the cause, despite a plan for a fundraiser this coming weekend.
Jimbo’s daughter-in-law Jennie said she expects the shop to stay opened through April 15, Jimbo’s birthday. After that, the family would decide the fate of Jimbo’s, she said.
It also depends on whether power is restored to the business.
Jennie Luznar said she and her husband Bobby worked tirelessly to restore the place to its former glory, and that her husband wants to see Jimbo’s turned into a historic landmark.
“This is something that once it’s gone – even if the city turns it into a beautiful park – we can never, ever, ever get it back,” she said. “If anybody thinks that we’re gonna walk away from this place, they’re crazy.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/14/2691485/jimbos-still-open-on-virginia.html#storylink=cpy