A two-story, three-room, bar-meets-club hybrid will open in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, Dec. 29. Cash Only is not located in popular areas for nightlife such as Himmarshee Village or Las Olas Boulevard, but between the two in Las Olas Riverfront, a neglected area in the arts and entertainment district. Built in 1998, Riverfront was intended to become a bustling area with shops, restaurants and bars, but has had more vacancies than businesses in recent years.
"We definitely want to stand out and be different," says Jonny Adler, one of Cash Only's four owners.
The front wall of Cash Only sets a retro tone, as it is decorated with hundreds of vintage 8-track tapes. The main room has a bar that's 24 by 12 feet. Adler says a 29-foot-long marquee that reads, "Cha-Ching" with lit-up letters will hang above the bar. A few low-seating tables on a platform will be set against two walls of the main room, though they're not part of a VIP section, he says.
"Bottle service is gone," co-owner Ken Smith says. "[Cash Only] is about the bar, relaxation, comfort, having fun with your friends and interacting with the people who are here and work here, and what's happening on the stage or around the bar."
"We're anti sparklers," Adler adds.
The owners chose the name "Cash Only" to go with the lounge's laid-back and vintage vibe. Smith, Adler and the other two owners, Callin Fortis and Angel Candelaria, say credit cards will be accepted at Cash Only.
"[The name] gives that retro feel, before people were using credit cards ... when it was all about cash," Smith says. "It wasn't so plastic, [but] more social. [Cash Only is] meant to be something that's fun and feels different from places that might be cold."
The upstairs room is supposed to seem like "your grandma's basement," Adler says. He says trippy posters will line the hallway up to the '70s-looking room, where guests will find vintage arcade games, couches and a bar stocked with whiskey, scotch and tequila.
The owners haven't figured out what they're doing with the third room, but plan to open it in the next few months.
On any given night, one room in Cash Only may play '90s music while another plays dance and the other plays hip-hop. Themed nights, such as karaoke or "Funky Dress, No Stress," will be scheduled regularly. Live music will also be featured, and local band the Spam Allstars (on Dec. 29) and hip-hop veteran Biz Markie (Jan. 14) will be among the first acts to play the club.
Cash Only's partners have spent decades in the nightlife industry. Smith and Fortis opened Crobar dance clubs in Chicago and Buenos Aires. Candelaria and Adler run Culture Productions and Red Monkey Promotions, respectively, both known for organizing events with big-name talent, including the parties Mad Decent Block Party and Fool's Gold Day Off.
The foursome is calling the area surrounding Cash Only "Lower Las Olas."
"We're creating a whole destination in between Himmarshee Street and Las Olas," Adler says. "We're the connector or the bridge."
Cash Only will open 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 15 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. It's open Thursdays to Sundays from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Call 954-299-3295 or go to CashOnlyBar.com.