Yesterday I attended a truly unique event. The 97th birthday party for Mac Klein, owner of South Beach’s infamous bar, Mac’s Club Deuce which Playboy Magazine includes in their Guide to America’s Best Bars. The Deuce is quite literally the first place I went to when I moved to Miami a year and a half ago. I drove to Miami from Maine and arrived at about 7pm on a Friday night in April. As I drove into town, I called the one person I knew in Miami, Ashley Swanson, and he said, “Meet me at The Deuce on 14th Street.” So, before I even unpacked my bags, I found myself sitting on a bar stool at a very cool dive bar in South Beach.
By the way, I called my girlfriend to tell her I was going to Mac’s birthday party at 10:30 in the morning on a Sunday. And she said, “What?! You’re going to the Deuce now?!” I replied, “Yeah, I know….I’m running late!” Because the party began at 8am and ran until 7pm. At 11am when I arrived, it was evident the party had been going strong for at least 3 hours, in fact, I had never seen the place so packed. I had to wonder if all the patrons were there to celebrate Mac’s birthday….or because any drink in the house cost just 97 cents. I’ll let you decide. Some of the patrons you’ll see in my photos here include graphic and web designer Ashley Swanson a.k.a. ashandburn.com, Eamon the owner of The Playwright Irish Pub, Vern the owner of Rapid Capital Group, Gerald W. Moore, Elo Calderon, Mac’s wife Mary and even Trevor the dog who ate more birthday cake than anyone else.
Mac graciously took 10 minutes from his party so I could photograph him and ask some questions. He told me he opened the Deuce in 1964 and that he had always been in the bar business first as a bartender and then he owned a place in South Miami for a few years and then another bar on Alton before opening the Deuce. And the secret to his longevity? He said, “Find something you like to do and something you’re good at, and never stop doing it. Me? I like running a bar and I’m good at it. So, this isn’t work for me.” When I asked what his long-term plans were, he added, “…to run the Deuce.” When I asked him what he did to stay so youthful, he said he gave up drinking and smoking….when he turned 90.
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