By Dale Madison
Once upon a time, there was a legendary little watering hole near Sears Town called Lester’s Bar (it had first been called SyLa’s, after the original owners, but it underwent a name change in 1949). Around 1990, the landmark lounge was purchased by a customer, John Hitchcock (who was a big fan of the joint’s freshly-made hamburgers). Re-christening it the Cubby Hole, Hitchcock was the steward of the heritage establishment for 15 years before deciding to put it on the market.
Enter Teri Galardi and Gary Edmiston. “We looked at large clubs in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, and Oakland Park,” recalls Edmiston. “We heard about Cubby Hole, so we stopped in to have a drink and check the place out. We really liked it, and so we put the wheels in motion, and next thing you know Teri bought the place.”
There was a lot to attract Galardi and Edmiston to the location. “We really liked the ‘friendly, local watering hole.’ We wanted the bar to be laid back, comfortable feel,” explains Edmiston. He acknowledges there were concerns when they first over. “Local drug dealers were hanging out in the back alley. Teri started going to city council meetings, and we spoke to the local police about more patrols. We also installed more security cameras.” Eventually, the bad element got the message that they weren’t welcome.
Despite those changes for the better, some things have stayed exactly same— including the bar’s reputation for great food (including the burgers that helped “give birth” to it). “Our burger is 1/3-pound of fresh ground sirloin,” Edmiston justifiably brags. “I personally go out and purchase the sirloin every day. Every Friday is hot dog day, so many times I will make a Sloppy Joe sauce to go on the dogs. We really try to show our customers that they are number one to us,” he adds.
“We also have the longest happy hour in town. Seven days a week and customers can use their [free drink] chips anytime. Our philosophy is you should be able to use that chip when you want to use it,” says Edmiston.
Edmiston’s emphasis on service and quality date back to his days in uniform, military and culinary. “In 1975, I left the United States Air Force and joined Big Boy Restaurants. I was a manager for years,” he remembers. “I then went to work for a private club in Las Vegas, and then became Assistant Executive Chef at Vegas World Casino.” In Las Vegas, Edmiston began his professional association with Galardi.X
“I went to work for Teri at the Back Door Club, which was one of the largest gay clubs in Vegas. It was typical for us to have 500 patrons on any given night. Then Teri and I found Cubby Hole, and this has been home for me for the past three years,” says Edmiston. “I’ve had one day off in that time,” he adds with a smile, “but this has been a labor of love, so it makes it worthwhile.”
The Cubby Hole Bar is located at 823 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. For more information, visit thecubbyhole.com, and tell Gary and his staff that you read about them in Guy Magazine.