Downtown’s newest neighborhood destination, directly under the Metro Mover for those of you who need a designated driver, is adjacent to the AAA arena, hence the name, WILL CALL. However, don’t be misled into thinking its merely a stop over on the way to or from the arena, be prepared to get pulled in for the evening. The full size stage rises just a few feet above the dance floor, giving the musicians a place of prominence. It is large enough to accommodate most any band from the knock out Molly Gene’s One Whoaman Band, to the nine piece local favorite, Suenalo. In between the live sets, you can count on a DJ taking up residence in the booth in the corner, just above the cozy seating area. Musical Director, Coz Canler, lead guitarist of the famed 80‘s punk rock band, The Romantics, oversees the musical lineup from local artists, to touring unknowns, to nationally acclaimed acts, including the upcoming Heavy Pets. “We have some great bands coming in including 50‘s music, pop, soul, R & B, we just lined up The Occasions.” Will Call has it’s own house band, The International Players, if you can call three of the players from Clarence Clemmon’s band Temple of Soul, including Billy Livesay-lead guitar/vocals, Cuqui Berriors-keyboard, Steve Argy-bass, along with Canler on guitar/vocals, as well as seasoned drummer Jimmyjack Tamburo a “house band.” Canler, with his Detroit connection to one third owner, Bob Mooney, relocated to Miami from LA, where he still commutes to record and produce music. Coincidently, Canler reconnected with an old girlfriend from his Detroit days now living in Miami. One of many personal stories that seem to make up the cohesive and positive vibe you get when you enter this bar. From those who own it, to those who manage it, to those who work there, the excitement and pure joy they exude is real and tangible, not a contrived effort.
Just beyond the dance floor is an enormous rectangular bar built of concrete that harnesses a host of Mixologists who take on their roles with an expert touch. The bar boasts over 250 high end spirits including 10 year old single malts, Haitian rum and “the only place to get Mezcal that’s open 24 hours.” Suggestion: ask for a recommendation for something fresh and unique, you will not be disappointed. Above and encircling the bar are over 30 large flat screen TV’s for any and all sporting events, including UFC fights. On the side of the bar opposite the stage stands a pool table and some old-school arcade games, surrounded by more cozy seating and a few cowgirl saddle stools. This end of the bar is definitely an attribute of another one third owner Tim Wilcox, of Miami Beach’s Ted’s Hideaway and Liquor Lounge, just to name a few of the multitude of bars he owns.
And it gets better, add to all of this a 24 hour grill kitchen and liquor license, “If we have more than six people past 5am, then we’ll stay open 24 hours.” Whether waiting for the band to start, or a late arrival from other night spots, knowing that freshly made munchies are always available is a comforting thought.
The many personas that this groovy honky tonk exudes could be attributed to it’s three owners, all notoriously successful Miami businessmen in their own rights. The three Mavericks, Bob Mooney, Tim Wilcox and Andrew Halloran, friends and business associates first, all partnered on Will Call for the first time. “Are there loud exchanges between all three of us Irish boys, you bet, but we get it done,” says Mooney with his boyish grin.
Bob Mooney got his start in the Motor City at the ripe age of 19, where he started a rock and roll clothing shop in the 60s, designing and making the hip threads in the basement himself. Not surprisingly, his designs caught the attention of many of the rockers passing through while on tour. With his profits quickly amassing, Mooney began to commute from Negril, Jamaica where the youngster indulged in the youthful, kick back, rock and roll lifestyle of the island. While there, he turned his attention and investments into a small bar/cafe with the only electricity on West End Road, which eventually became the infamous Rick’s Cafe. Mooney relocated to Miami after leaving Jamaica where he continued his Midas Touch in investments. It was only about two years ago that Mooney sold off his portion of Prime 112, which he was part of from inception to birth to maturity.
Andrew Halloran, the youngest of the three owners, and owner of Andrew Halloran Construction, has been a force in the building and rebuilding of dozens of South Beach bars and restaurants for the past twenty years. Halloran has his own unique story of his family sailing from New York to Key West in the 60s, his parents and his two siblings living on the boat for the first years there. Halloran, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both general contractors, saw his opening after Hurricane Andrew, where, as a mere teenager, bought up a handful of condemned properties and quickly turned them into a profit, and as they say, the rest is history.
This being his own first venture, Halloran felt he had the right to call in a few favors for many of the fittings of Will Call and seemed pretty pleased with the outpour of cooperation. Although his sister, Lisa Halloran, is an interior designer, this is the first interior they were both available to work on together, just another spin on the magic coming together in one place at one time.
If it sounds like Will Call’s got it all going on, it’s because it does. One would argue that they may be trying to please everyone at the risk of not finding their niche, but upon first visit that argument would be shot full of holes, because it works. There is nothing else like it in Miami. Will Call ~ 700 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Fl ~305.577.5900