Wood Tavern Owner's Bizerq Breathes New Life Into Former Soho Lounge Space
Photo by Jose D. Duran Bizerq and Wood Tavern owner Cesar Morales.
Walking up the familiar stairwell of what was once Soho Lounge, there are now the sounds of hammers and electrical saws. Reaching the building's second level, it looks like Bizerq -- the newest nightclub in mainland Miami -- has a long way to go.
To say the space is in the white box stage would be generous. There's exposed framing, plumbing, and wiring everywhere. The concrete floors are cracked, making it a precarious journey as the tour continues.
But in two weeks time, according to Cesar Morales, the 36-year-old proprietor of Wood Tavern, the venue will be ready.
If it were anyone else saying so, I'd be doubtful. But even as its three-year anniversary looms, Wood Tavern remains Wynwood's most popular spot. What debuted as a chic and artistic take on the small, corner bar, quickly saw itself transformed into the neighborhood's front door. It now welcomes locals and curious tourists alike, having tripled in size since opening in 2011.
"It was never intended to be as physically large as it is now," Morales says. "I asked the landlord if I could take over my two parking spaces behind the building to do an outside patio. When I did that, as soon as it happened, people gravitated toward the outside."
Wood has thrived mainly due to Morales quick thinking. He eventually leased out his neighbors' parking spaces as the need for more real estate arose. But he also used the space he had wisely. Since food options were scarce in the arts district, he added a taco stand so patrons wouldn't have to leave the area to get a quick bite. Summer thunderstorms prompted the addition of an awning for the outside patio area. And to keep people spread out, he constructed a DJ booth in the far back so there wouldn't be any dead space.
The bar has also led to the Wood Tavern Group of establishments, which now includes Benchwarmers, a sports bar. And this week, with Bizerq, Morales will bring his popular give-the-people-what-they-want business savvy to Miami's nightclub scene, taking over the space formerly occupied by the storied Soho Lounge.
Why Bizerq? "It's that moment in the night when people go berserk," Morales explains.
See also: Wynwood's Five Best Bars