NiteTalk: Adam Gersten Gets It with Gramps

Gramps Adam Gersten R

Some folks just don’t get it; even when it’s given to ‘em. Others get it from the get; not because of luck (though fortune is in their favor), but because they’ve already got it in them. It’s what can’t be bought, bartered, borrowed or faked. And it always makes for one singular sensation. That’s why a mad swath of wild world turned up when Adam Gersten opened the bar Gramps during Basel. And why a mass of Miamians have already taken to the place as if it was their one true home away from home. Then again, when a hometown boy makes good as it gets, it’s a cinch to be instantly unforgettable.

Gotta ask: Why Gramps? The bar’s named for my maternal grandfather, Irving Miller, who was in on some of Miami and Miami Beach’s Rat Pack-era action and who has always been big influence on me. The bar we have in the back room comes straight from his home on Sunset 3.

What kinda spots was your Gramps involved with back then? He built and/or partnered in everything from ‘50s subdivisions (MIller Heights and Village Green) to Sunny Isles strip hotels such as The Dunes, The Aztec, and The Newport. He also built Bowlerama, on 79th and NW 2nd, which was one of the first bowling alleys in Miami to use automatic pinsetters, and at some point was a partner in The Shelbourne.

Anyone else in anyway involved in the creation of Gramps? Genevieve Humberston co-designed the place; she’s worked with several reputable designers over the last 10 years, and aside from her own home, this was her first major commercial project out on her own. Other than her helping me work out all the elements and my grandfather’s inspiration, it’s pretty much all just me, realizing my lifelong dream.

What spots other than your grandfather’s have inspired you? There are quite a few ... Fox’s Sherron Inn, Happy’s Stork Club, The Deuce, and of course Jimbo’s. The Top in Gainesville, The Porch in Key West ...

Isn’t Jimbo’s presence felt in ways beyond inspiration? Yes, Johnny Laderer, of the apparel line called Algae, made a reverent buoy-loaded altar from materials we salvaged from Jimbo's the dat after it closed.  The fabled place -- and others of similar vein -- are also paid tribute to in each of the five custom-commissioned booths. 

Who did you commission to make the booths? Johnny Laderer did one of those too; so did Justin H. Long, who does everything from solo gallery shows to videos; Mike Del Marmol, who had an installation at Bar when that was open and is a designer at Crispin Porter; and Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman of Rakontur. The one with the speedboat striping is mine.

Any plans to bring back the alligator wrestling you had at Basel? The folks at the Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge were great, and everybody had a blast, but I think alligator wrestling might have been a one-time affair. Maybe it'll turn out to be an annual thing. Who knows? Brian Butler's giant gator mural will be around for a good long while though, so the tradition's covered no matter what.

Gramps is open every night. For more information log on here.

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