For all the outreach that happens in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village, many folks who live around the area remain hesitant to dip a toe in. Even the monthly Art Walk is a challenge for those people able to walk without falling down, but worried that they don’t “art” very well.
But you can drink, can’t you?
On Friday night, some of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s most relevant movers and shakers open a new venue that is sure make FAT Village a more popular destination.
Take a detour inside a door beside C&I Studios, and at the end of the hall you’ll find yourself at Next Door, a laid-back bar by night (8 p.m.-2 a.m.) and a new location of Brew coffeehouse by day (6 a.m.-3 p.m.). The project is an expansion of the 4,000-square-foot C&I Studios (541 NW First Ave.), the music, graphic design and film production firm run by Josh Miller.
Next Door is the physical representation of the vibe Miller has promoted via C&I’s Art Walk parties, movie nights and the free Friday barbecues he hosts outside the building every month. Miller, who moved from Washington, D.C., in 2008, and relocated C&I Studios to FAT Village from a building near Commercial Boulevard nearly three years ago, calls Next Door a "community space."
“This is an extension of that. It’s about building community,” Miller says. “If we were just sitting here churning out videos for our clients, we would not be fulfilling our mission as a company. Community involvement is a big deal for us.”
He says the idea began to flicker 18 months ago, and gained momentum as C&I’s Art Walk crowds began to linger later and later.
“We were having a really hard time getting people to leave. The last Art Walk we had people hanging out past midnight, drinking their beer and wine,” Miller says. “They were just looking for a place to go.”
The eclectic vibe at Next Door is everywhere: On one side of the bar sits a silver Airstream trailer (towed in from Lakeland, it will at some point become a recording studio, Miller says) and behind the bar is a wall of more than 3,000 books, real books, not decoration (titles include Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” and Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Memoirs of Richard Nixon” and “Blind Ambition” by John Dean). And they are meant to be read: Ask the bartender or barista, and they'll fetch one for you.
Not only does Next Door offer a creative space to hang out, there will be real art being made in a photo/video studio a few steps away from the bar. Throughout November C&I Studios is offering photographers free studio time in the space (openings remain: check with studio manager Brandon Baker at Brandon@c-istudios.com).
Among the community that helped Miller create Next Door are Julian Siegel, the beer visionary at Riverside Market, who stocked the bar; Brew owners Robert and Daniella Denison; and professional party-crowd sourcers like Sara Shake at Exposed PR.
The opening of a new Brew will be welcome news to fans of the funky Himmarshee shop that closed about a month ago. Regulars there told Daniella Denison they could not bring themselves to patronize the more corporate Victoria Park location nearby.
Standing near the Airstream, Denison says, “We think they’ll like this place.”
Miller says Next Door has cost “tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of dollars,” but is well worth it if they can achieve their goal.
“We want to make an impact on Fort Lauderdale. You hear all the time that Fort Lauderdale is not creative, that there’s nothing to do here. We want people to fly into Fort Lauderdale and say, “I’ve gotta see what’s going on in FAT Village.”
The Next Door opening party on Friday will take place from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at 537 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Info: Facebook.com/CIStudios.
WATCHING THE KIDS
When the Royal Concept had to cancel their spot on Sunday's Coastline Festival bill at the Cruzan Amphitheatre, Live Nation's Neil Jacobsen had to scramble a little. But "it really worked out for the best... and we added some local indie bands that have a following." Added to the bill were Orlando's Civilian and Kids, a Fort Lauderdale-based band that works with ... C&I Studios. Hit the link for more Coastline Festival news. Get a taste of Kids at Facebook.com/TheBandKids, and watch this "Live at C&I Studios" video for "Sink or Swim""
DRINK FROM A GLASS
Southwest Second Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale's Himmarshee District has for years operated under an uneasy truce between places that might have Prosecco and Havarti cheese on the menu and those who do most of their business in plastic cups. And the latter seemed to have been winning. On Friday, the Himmarshee Public House (201 SW Second St.) will make a strong case for more class on Southwest Second. Mark Falsetto's "sporting lounge" has the menu you'd expect from a place run by the owner of the popular, foodie-oriented burger joint Rok:Brgr across the street, and a bright, airy environment perfect for relaxed dining and sports-watching conviviality. Hit the link for a preview of Himmarshee Public House.
Jerry Seinfeld's televised pop-culture blip happened so long ago that the classic “Vandelay Industries” episode had Kramer answering a two-piece phone that had no camera function. But, as seen on the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Seinfeld can still squeeze a lot of laughs out of thin air. See for yourself when he plays two 8 p.m. shows at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Tickets are $169, $139, $104 and $79, and go on sale at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster outlets, at MyHRL.com, and at 800-745-3000.
MORE GOOD FOOD
Restaurateur Angelo Elia on Thursday opened a new location of his consistently rewarding D’Angelo Pizza at the Shoppes at Addison Place (16950 Jog Road) in Delray Beach, with Peter Masiello (most recently at Frank and Dino’s in Deerfield Beach and Damiano in Boca Raton) running the kitchen. Call 561-381-0037 or go to DAngeloPizza.com.
MORE GOOD MUSIC
The mysterious retro twang of Russell Mofsky’s Miami-based Gold Dust Lounge will rattle your drink during two sets at the Bamboo Room (25 S. J St., Lake Worth) on Saturday night. Tickets: $7 advance, $10 at the door. Call 561-585-2583 or go to BambooRoomBlues.com or GoldDustLounge.com.
MISTY MOUNTAIN HOPS
Former U.S. Olympic ski team member Keely Kelleher will be on hand when the Warren Miller documentary “Ticket To Ride” gets you in the mood for the season at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. The screening, sponsored by Peter Glenn Ski and Sports, shows insane action from mountains in Alaska, Montana, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Greenland, Switzerland and Norway. Tickets cost $12, $10 students. Call the box office at 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.
Another good guy who plays good music that deserves your attention is Jacob Jeffries, once of Plantation and now of the world, who will play the Funky Buddha in Boca Raton Sunday at 9:30 p.m. and at Cowboys in Davie at 8 p.m. Tuesday. He also will make an appearance at the Allstate Fort Lauderdale Marathon on Sunday at 8 a.m. Yes, 8 a.m. Then, he’ll head back to New York. Go to JacobJeffriesBand.com.
"Miami's Oldest Bar" is still at it, with Tobacco Road defending its title by getting even older this year. Friday night’s 101st anniversary party will be a memorable blowout, with the Crescent City jams of Ivan and Ian Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, the Spam Allstars, Earphunk and more. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. Admission is a mere $10, and the festivities kick off at 6 p.m. More info: 305-374-1198, Tobacco-Road.com.
WALK, DON"T CRAWL
The fourth edition of the Fort Lauderdale Bar Crawl on Saturday night will have eight stops in the Himmarshee District from 6:30 to 11 p.m., when your Crawl Card gets you a free beer or cocktail at each bar. Among the sponsors is Fireball, the curiously strong cinnamon-infused whisky. You’ve been warned. The cards are $20 before midnight Friday night, $25 at check-in 6:30-9 p.m. at Lucky's Tavern. Other stops include Tarpon Bend, Off the Hookah, T-Mex, Capone's, Briny Pub, The Dubliner and America's Backyard, where the 11 p.m. after-party includes a free buffet. More info: FortLauderdaleBarCrawl.com.
For the record, word went out this week that Christmas on Las Olas this year will fall on Dec. 3, the same day we celebrate rock ‘n’ roll statesman Ozzy Osbourne becoming a senior citizen, chronologically speaking, as he turns 65. The free festivities, with choirs, snow sledding, ice skating and seasonal food and drink, run from 5 to 10 p.m. on East Las Olas Boulevard between Southeast Sixth and Southeast 11th avenues. Go to LasOlasBoulevard.com or Ozzy.com.