Churchill's New Owners: An Open Letter

Categories: Local Music

Photo by Monica McGivern

In the early '80s, Pepsi had begun seriously encroaching on sales of Coca-Cola, even outselling the latter in supermarkets.

In an effort to rejuvenate sales, Coke outright replaced its formula with what would be known as "New Coke" -- an "improved" version of the formula that would replace the original for 77 days before the company relented and re-introduced the old Coke as "Coke Classic."

As the new owners of Churchill's Pub, you're already running into a similar dilemma.

See also: Churchill's New Owners Abandoning Plans for 21-and-Over Policy

Photo by Monica McGivern
Freedom! Essential to the Churchill's formula.

Perhaps what's most interesting about the New Coke story is that consumers in taste-tests actually favored the fresh formula -- and the initial sales jumped in most of the country. This wasn't an arbitrary decision made by their executives, who actually verified that most people thought it tasted better before launching it.

Unfortunately, the problem was not with "most people." A smaller but more vocal group of Coke aficionados loudly objected to the tampering with the old brand and taste, and managed to undermine "New Coke."

Coca-Cola's President Donald Keough at a press conference said: "The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people."

As for Churchill's Pub, Dave Daniels didn't just run a bar -- he ran a brand, and that brand involved a particular, anything-goes ethic that led to a cult-like following among its patrons. If there's one thing you can say about Churchill's fans, it's that they have a "deep and abiding emotional attachment" to the formula.

Dave's approach -- allowing the place to be an incubator of music without the frill or amenities of modern bars -- probably didn't look good on paper and cost some sales. Going to Churchill's has been an adventure, and not always in a good way. But every once in a while, you'd see the Best Show You've Ever Seen -- or the start of a band or artist that would go on to international fame. It was consistently unpredictable and sometimes explosively, outrageously cool.

The fact that he would allow Rat Bastard and others to promote (literal) noise on Thursdays -- two decades before he'd actually start to make money on the International Noise Conference -- was either amazingly prescient or crazy, depending on how you want to view the overall return on investment.

Most bars opened 30 years ago are long gone. Churchill's just sold for a boatload of money.

See also: Churchill's Pub Sale Finalized

Location Info


Churchill's Pub

5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Big fan and frequent visitor.


Even if the new owner want to tear down Churchill's and replace it with a Gluten Free, Vegan, Enema Bar it is OK by me.

They own it....They can do what they want with it.   It is easy to be sanctimonious and give advice when it isn't your money after all.

Sandor Urban
Sandor Urban

Art Bomb has it mostly right. The bathrooms, they could really use some fixin... Other than that, it's fine being the dive that it is.


All that talk of New Coke the soft drink made me expect something about New Coke the local band. They're no strangers to Churchill's. Seriously, though; I agree that the bathrooms were the worst part of Churchill's. The best part for me was the general sense that anything could happen, and you never knew who would show up. 


Very interesting view points brought up in this article. I really enjoyed the writing style. Thank you very much for this gem. 


I first ventured into Churchill's when I was 21. I continued going in my 30s, 40s and am now in my 50s and just saw the most amazing Jacuzzi Boys show last week!  I hate to be the voice of reality, but the ultimate fact is that NOTHING IN THIS LIFE IS PERMANENT. The consortium of new (out of town) owners bought property plain and simple; a piece of land which contained a piece of shit bar. They, unlike most of us are smart investors with a keen business sense.  They did their homework and are speculating that the Little Haiti corridor running east and west along 54th Street and the surrounding area will be the Next Big Thing. They arrived too late and with too little to buy property in Downtown, Wynwood or the Design District, so they ventured further north a few blocks and saw Churchill's. They followed their collective noses and where we smell stale beer and vomit they followed the smell of money and future opportunity. So my advice is to Enjoy each remaining moment, the writing is on the wall. Thanks Dave Daniels for 30+ years of fun.


and if you really start booking cover bands and having karaoke, we promise to not set the place on fire.


sort of.

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