Jimbo's Family Feud: The Sordid Real Story Behind The Iconic Bar's End
|Photo by Ciara Osorio|
Jimbo's Place was founded in 1954 after the city evicted Jimbo Sr.'s shrimp operation from the downtown waterfront property currently home to the Miami Herald. As a consolation prize, he was given a rent-free, lifetime lease on land nobody really wanted -- a small patch of stinky, buggy Virginia Key waterfront adjacent to a sewage treatment plant.
City officials probably didn't expect Jimbo to stay half a century. Shrimping became bar-keeping, if that's what you call digging domestic beer from ice coolers. Skyscrapers sprouted along the bay, but Jimbo's vibe was Key West with a healthy splash of Mad Max. As Jamaican Paul likes to say: "Jimbo's is irie."
The trouble began in the mid-'00s, when Jimbo, suffering from chronic neck pain and the onset of Alzheimer's, ceded operations to his son Bubba. According to Bobby, his brother is notorious for drinking too much, snorting starter fluid, and getting into fights. Bubba calmly downplays that characterization: "I think if I drink a little bit of tequila, my mouth gets me in trouble."
Bubba hired as a manager a notorious semihomeless man named Diego. (He has since disappeared and could not be located, so we're not using his last name.) Diego raided the cash registers, say Bubba's siblings, and liked to berate customers and spray them with fire extinguishers. "He busted my head twice," Jamaican Paul recalls. "He had a bit of a drinking problem."
"I was in the process of getting rid of Diego," Bubba insists. Then in December 2009, Bubba's trailer burned down. "There were too many extension cords, and it created a fire," City of Miami project manager Robert Weinreb says. The city shut down Jimbo's electricity until the establishment fixed its fire hazards. It never did.