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Gramps’ Adam Gersten on Wynwood’s early days and his plans for three new concepts

Ryan Pfeffer

Plop us in Wynwood with just enough time for one drink, and we know where we're going: Gramps. Give us enough time for two, three, eight more cocktails—and chances are we're still staying put at Gramps. Adam Gersten's bar is young—under five years old—but it already feels like one of those classic drinking establishments that have been around for generations. Gersten was among the first nightlife venues to invest in Wynwood and in just over four years Gramps has grown into a music, comedy and drag venue that also functions as a chill happy hour spot and more-than-proficient cocktail bar. Gramps balances its lazy, tropical vibe with a whirling events schedule that guarantees something fun is happening just about seven days a week. Fans of the bar will also be giddy to learn that Gersten has plans to expand beyond Wynwood with three new concepts, which he shared in a conversation with us.

Gramps was the first bar you ever opened. Was Wynwood your first choice?

No, it wasn't. I really didn't have one. I just had a short checklist of requirements: indoor/outdoor space, parking and a central location. We opened our doors in 2012, but I selected the site in early 2011. It was an abandoned space owned by someone in the garment industry who had other warehouses, including one where Coyo Taco now sits.

How has the neighborhood changed since you first opened?

Back then you had Joey’s, Panther Coffee and the Electric Pickle Company, but that was really it. There were no assurances that more would be happening. You didn’t really see Wynwood start to become a nightlife destination until late 2014. The momentum really peaked around 2015.

What’s your take on Wynwood as an arts district?

I used to not like the murals much, but now that I have a kid, my opinion of street art has softened. It’s nice to see families who’ve never seen anything like it walk around and enjoy the buildings and the Wynwood Walls. Fatherhood has made me less cynical toward murals.

What do few people know about Wynwood?

Listen, it’s one of the only actual neighborhoods in Miami. I know a lot of people don’t feel that way but you can’t tell the small business owners that have been here 24/7 for the last five or six years that it’s not a neighborhood in terms of being able to walk around and see people who know each other. I’m walking—actually walking— around and saying hi to the people at Boxelder, the people at Panther. And in Miami right now, how many places can you say you see that?

Any plans to expand outside of Wynwood?

Yes. Leases have been signed and properties have been purchased for some new concepts. I’m opening a casual restaurant on the Miami River. I’m also opening a smaller bar in little Haiti on 53rd street. And I’m partnering with the guys from Blackbird and Abbey to take over the News Lounge (5580 NE 4th Court).

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