Cheeseburgers in paradise, old and new
April 6,2015 Sunsentinel: Michael Mayo
I went to Le Tub to grab a lunchtime burger Monday, and to check out the rumors that keep swirling around Hollywood beach.
The Margaritaville resort is coming — does that mean Le Tub is going?
“I can’t see it being sold anytime in the near future,” said Lloyd Falk, a part owner and Fort Lauderdale attorney. Falk said the nationally acclaimed dive bar on the Intracoastal Waterway is still tangled in court proceedings stemming from the 2010 death of founder Russ Kohuth.
“I’ve had no discussions with them,” Margaritaville developer Lon Tabatchnick told me Monday. “It’s not in our plans to purchase it.”
When I pulled into Le Tub, the 17-story Margaritaville hovered like a menacing giant across the street. Johnson Street was closed and A1A was a construction-zone mess. But my biggest shock came when I saw this sign in Le Tub’s lot: “Parking $2.”
I groused, then paid for what used to be free.
“Everything changes,” the attendant said.
For a long time, the complete opposite was true of Hollywood beach. Nothing changed. There were mom-and-pop stores, Speedo-wearing tourists and lots of empty talk about redeveloping the city-owned property near the quaint Johnson Street bandshell.
But now change is finally happening. Margaritaville is almost done, about four months away from opening on that city-owned land. It will have 350 rooms, seven bars and restaurants, a Flow Rider wave machine open to the public and a parking garage with 1,000 spaces.
Will Margaritaville augment the beach’s unpretentious vibe or destroy it?
Hollywood’s Margaritaville still on track to open this summer
When I spoke with Tabatchnick on Monday, he reiterated what he’s told me before: He’s hoping for old and new to mix and mingle in a good way.
“We believe in the rising tide,” Tabatchnick said. “We believe in a diversity of options for the area.”
Among those diverse options: A nudist hotel with a rooftop pool deck one block north.
The Rooftop Resort, which bills itself on Google as “South Florida’s #1 Swingers’ Nudist Hotel,” has built tiki huts and screens on its fifth-floor pool deck to shield the goings-on from outside view. It used to be the tallest building around. No more.
Early on, Margaritaville construction workers got an eyeful. What about future guests?
“If you have binoculars, I guess you might be able to see something,” Tabatchnick said. “They’re going to have to shield their activities and make sure they follow whatever ordinances there are.”
Margaritaville resort bringing change to Hollywood beach
I tried to speak with Rooftop Resort’s owner, Paul Galluccio, but didn’t hear back. When I dropped by on Monday, a front desk receptionist said, “Be nice to us.” The hotel’s website says it “is not for sale and is not changing its business model” because of Margaritaville. It welcomes its new neighbor and “expects the project to be a tremendous driver of new business.”
As for Le Tub, the commode-decorated pub that was featured by Oprah, Tabatchnick said, “I eat there. It’s fun.” Margaritaville will have a bar with boat slips immediately to the north.
Falk said Kohuth’s intent was to have Le Tub go on, leaving 52 percent to longtime general manager Steven Sidle, with the other 48 percent divided equally among himself, two longtime employees (John Petrie and Mathias Kundolf) and Kohuth’s ex-girlfriend.
“I’m telling you he didn’t want it to be sold,” Falk said. “There’s no reason for it to be sold. It’s a great place and a great business.”
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