Some may call it a bar rescued, others, a bar ruined. (Actually, the former applies to nobody). Either way, Sandbar in Coconut Grove will soon become as fuzzy of a memory as the nights you spent there crushing penny beers like it was your life's calling, dropping it low on the bar's makeshift stage with moves your father would be ashamed of, feeling as though you owned the world while atop of the famed lifeguard throne, looking down upon the mere dancing mortals, coming down only to refill your plastic chalice. That was the Sandbar Miami knew and loved for almost 15 years, whether you attended the University of Miami, spent your Fridays here after kickball games, or simply gathered here to watch big games with family and friends.
Recently, the bar shuttered for some renovations. Bars do this often, so upon first inspection, it was no big deal. It was then revealed that the bar's renovations were more than just a few fixer uppers. The bar was getting Jon Taffer's golden touch on Spike's Bar Rescue, a show that takes fledgling establishments and transforms them into better versions of themselves or entirely new concepts all together. That's when the red flags should have gone up. The latter was the fate of our dear Sandbar Grill, which we were under the impression was renamed "The Hot Rock," however we The U reports that the name has been changed to "Sandbar Grille." Was it a hoax all along?
Virtually everything inside has been covered up or replaced, some things for the better, and others not so much. Where there were once table tops that could fit a large group of friends, there are now regular tables with lush, nicely upholstered aqua chairs that fit a family of four. Where there was once a shabby bar that served $2 drinks on Tuesdays and half priced pitchers during games, there is now a nice shiny bar where you can order a "Citrustini" or a "Hot Rock Sunset" for $9.25. The Sandbar stage has been covered up with tufted red wall seating, making it virtually impossible for you to have your fifteen minutes of fame anymore, and a source tells us that the bathrooms, the one thing that actually did need major renovations, were left untouched. But this, this is perhaps the most depressing detail of all: Sandbar's lifeguard chair is no more.
So far, management has remained mum on what to expect, but we were able to get a bit of intel for you. "We're going to change some of the nights, introduce specialty food nights, get rid of some of the cheap gimmicks," says Matthew Gentile, owner and operator of Sandbar Grill, who is a Hurricane himself according to LinkedIn. "We're going to focus on more of a lunch crowd, more of a dinner crowd. We're starting to have a late night cocktail crowd. We stepped up the food a lot and specialty cocktails." When asked if this was in an effort to kick out the college crowd, he responded "no, not at all. We're trying to keep what we have, but offer an option for a different demographic."
Sandbar Grille reopens tonight, so you'll get to taste and experience it first hand. No word yet on when the show will premier, but we'll keep an eye out for you. We have yet to see if this revamp will make Sandbar stick out, or if it will become just another gastropub in a sea of sameness, leaving Miami with a huge void when we just want a $5.99 pitcher of the cheap stuff.