Watch: Inside storied past of Jeffrey Soffer’s Story nightclub in Miami Beach
Venue, which opened in 1994 as Amnesia, has been at forefront of fight against city curbing partying
Story nightclub is a popular party venue in Miami Beach, and a property with a storied past and contentious present.
The two-floor, white building on the southwest corner of Collins Avenue and Second Street was developed by Lawrence Kaine in 1994. Shortly after, nightlife impresario André Boudou opened Amnesia nightclub, bringing the brand to the shores of South Beach after first opening an Amnesia in the south of France.
While the venue has gone through several owners and names, a common thread has stuck throughout its history: It’s been a noisy neighbor to nearby residents, with some city officials pushing to clamp down on the partying.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, it was an open-air nightclub, meaning music often spilled into the largely residential South of Fifth neighborhood.
“There were noise complaints and code violations issued,” said Louis J. Terminello, an attorney who in those years represented the venue’s various operators and the property owner, the Kaine family.
Some South Beach partygoers might also remember the nightclub as Opium Garden, operated by Roman Jones, in the early 2000s.
In 2011, Boudou and his son Gregory Boudou, as well as their partners Bob Sinclar and Pierre Denain brought back the name Amnesia. Only this time, they enclosed the building, paying millions of dollars to have a roof built, according to Terminello.
That venture, however, only lasted a year. The current owners, real estate mogul Jeffrey Soffer and nightlife impresario David Grutman, stepped in and opened Story in 2012.
But contention has continued. This year, the entity through which Soffer and Grutman own Story’s business sued the city of Miami Beach over a law commissioners approved in February curbing alcohol sale hours from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. in the South of Fifth neighborhood.
The ordinance, which passed shortly before the onset of spring break in South Beach, provided an exemption that allows small venues with a capacity of up to 100 guests to continue operating as usual. The carve out amounted to an illegal targeting of Story, a 27,000-square-foot nightclub with 60 VIP tables and five bars, according to the lawsuit Soffer and Grutman’s affiliate filed.
Soffer and Grutman officially lost in court, with the judge upholding the city’s alcohol sale hours rollback. Yet, the pair technically won. On March 15, the judge imposed a 30-day stay on the new ordinance, or a pause on enforcing it until April 14 to give Story time to appeal. That essentially allowed the nightclub to operate late into the morning, during the peak of spring break.
In this video, The Real Deal dives into the history of the property at 136 Collins Avenue that is now Story nightclub.