The first cool place in Wynwood is closing its doors.
Wood Tavern, one of the pioneers in bringing nightlife to Miami’s industrial neighborhood, will close on March 14 after nearly 10 years in business, the bar’s owner said. Rising rents, seating restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus and a curfew that affected the business as a late-night venue made profitability impossible, he said.
“From a business standpoint, it was very black and white. The numbers no longer worked,” owner Cesar Morales said. “But the outpouring from people sharing their memories has been overwhelming.”
Morales broke news on the bar’s and his personal Instagram accounts. He said that the bar’s employees will have jobs at his company’s upcoming concept, Pizza and Beer, a little more than three blocks away.
“The landlords did work with me and no one wanted to see this happen,” Morales wrote on Instagram. “You guys did what you could, and I understand it’s business and it simply got to the point where there was no way to make the numbers work.”
Wood Tavern opened in November 2011 at 2531 NW 2nd Ave., joining Wynwood Kitchen and Bar and Panther Coffee as the first destinations in a neighborhood known for cheap art gallery space, warehouses and homes with weed-strew lawns.
“What drew me to Wynwood was the rawness,” said Morales, who started out with a printing company in the neighborhood.
Wood was among the area’s first gentrifiers, ushering in a wave of outside interest in Wynwood, from craft breweries to restaurants. Wood Tavern was a late-night destination, with a wide patio where $1 tacos kept a night-owl crowd fueled well into third and fourth drinks. Lines regularly stretched around the block as Wynwood became South Florida’s new hot spot. The success of places like Wood brought in major investors, turning Wynwood into an international destination and a backdrop of colorful murals for selfies.
And that, in turn, pushed out the early adopter hipster crowd as new housing, office space and retail outlets moved in.
Morales’ Miami Bar Group continues to find nightlife spaces in older Miami neighborhoods. They recently opened a concept similar in spirit to Wood, Tayrona Restaurant and Patio, in nearby Allapattah, which investors have spent the last two years marking for redevelopment. The group also owns Las Rosas bar, a spot that straddles the border between Wynwood and Allapattah.
His new restaurant, Pizza and Beer, which opens March 17 at 144 NW 23rd St., will employ all of Wood’s staff. Adapting to the new limits, Pizza and Beer will be centered around a large beer garden, serving Neapolitan-style pizzas, with a full bar, he said.