We love a good redemption story, especially one that involves one of our favorite Miami bars.
In September of last year, downtown bar and restaurant Over Under closed after only 14 months in business. According to their Instagram stories, the closure was temporary while the team sorted out some “zoning issues tied to bar sales.” But then—as we awaited news of their imminent reopening—the New Times went in, as it does.
In December, the paper reported that the bar had been shut down by police for operating without the proper license. It’s a long story, both the New Times’ piece (which you can read in full here) and what actually happened, according to co-owner Brian Griffiths, who summed it up for us succinctly: “long story medium, we worked with bad people.”
There were construction consultants, permit expeditors and attorneys, all of whom dispensed the wrong advice, which led to an incorrect zoning permit as a restaurant rather than a bar. Griffiths maintains that, despite the chatter, the bar did in fact have a liquor license but it wasn’t applied to their location.
We are stubborn and fight really hard and care a lot.
“We followed our then attorney's advice on how to proceed with our opening (after 3.5 years and any money we ever had or dreamed of having) in the middle of the pandemic and it turned out to be incorrect,” he says. The City of Miami took more than a year to process the approval, he says, at which point Over Under was repeatedly fined for illegal alcohol sales and eventually forced to close.
Should Griffiths and his partner, Lenny Rodrigues, have researched the issue further? Maybe (at least according to a few outside sources we consulted). But that’s water under the bridge for the duo who’ve since changed attorneys and assure us that everything now is properly in place and watertight. “If anything we allowed our naivety and hope and excitement and panic and anxiety and brokeness to make us listen to the wrong advice,” admits Griffiths, who wanted to set the record straight.
It took seven months, a new team, support from other bar owners—including folks behind Gramps, the Corner and Bar Lab—and incredible tenacity. “We are stubborn and fight really hard and care a lot,” says Griffiths, who's eager to focus on giving Over Under a fresh start. “One of the few silver linings with the time away was that it allowed us to take a step back and think about who we are and want to be. The first year and a half was a whirlwind with change happening all of the time. But now, we know who we are and we know who we serve and we want to make it the best place in the world for those people. We like our community,” he says. Judging by the early response to Over Under’s reopening on Instagram and IRL, the community loves them right back.