After 20 years of business, Bougainvillea's Old Florida Tavern in South Miami may be closing its doors for good.
Like many businesses in the pandemic, the popular neighborhood bar, also known as Bougie's, was forced to close its doors for seven months. The tavern recently reopened in October.
"It's difficult. I've been married to this place," said Cesar Rincon, the managing partner for Bougainvillea's. "For 17 years I’ve poured my entire heart and soul into this place, grown up here in a way."
Rincon says they had a verbal agreement with the property manager that they weren’t expected to pay rent during the months they were closed. So when they got a default notice the first week of November demanding tens of thousands of dollars in past due rent — they felt blindsided.
"Unfortunately, we've been told she wants the keys and she wants us out, and we don't know why," Rincon said.
The notice also ordered them to vacate when their current short-term lease ends Nov. 30.
Rincon says he's tried negotiating with the owner and offered to start paying the past due rent and sign a new lease, but the landlord allegedly refuses to talk to them.
"We’re trying to create a conversation with our landlord, which we weren't able to have," he said. "We want to sit down, figure out a resolution, save these jobs, save the business and save the place the community loves."
The bar owners say they’ve pumped out $100,000 in renovations and improvements to this property this year alone.
NBC 6 has reached out to the landlord and the attorney but have not heard back.