Jason D. Shaw encounters an obvious question an awful lot at his bar, Cash Only, the new Fort Lauderdale spot for which he's marketing director. Patrons waddle to the bar, a guilty look on their faces, and ask the bartender whether the place accepts any type of payment other than hard currency. It's not the dumbest of questions, considering the name. "We do accept credit cards," Shaw assures us, despite the confusing moniker. "The name was picked to give it that late-'80s, early-'90s Fort Lauderdale retro-chic feel. We're going the opposite of the sparklers-and-bottle-service feel."
After a year of plotting and designing, the partners behind Cash Only have worked hard to create the type of nightlife space they thought was missing in Fort Lauderdale — one that harks back to a more carefree era, before Bitcoins and PayPal were a thing. The 7,500-square-foot, three-room space was built with diversity in mind, Shaw says. "The main room has a stage where live acts can play with a large dance floor. Upstairs is a lounge that was inspired by the basement in That '70s Show. The backroom has a neighborhood bar kind of feel. We wanted to give people every kind of experience they could want in one wheelhouse."
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The bar plans to give patrons a chance to get a feel for the venue's diverse music with a grand-opening week of free entry that will coincide with New Year's Eve. The true grand-opening celebration, though, will happen Thursday, December 29, with the help of Miami's Latin-fusion funk favorites Spam Allstars, along with DJs Immortal, Tom Laroc, Donnie Lowe, and Mas Inc. Friday, December 30, will see DJ Roland and Gfunk selecting the songs. New Year's Eve will feature the Cash Only debut of Freak the Disco. Then you can start 2017 right with Red Monkey behind the decks.
As next year rolls in, the bar will stick by its pledge to bring in an eclectic variety of music ranging from techno to rock. The establishment has already shown a strong commitment to old-school hip-hop, with legendary rappers Biz Markie and Talib Kweli booked to appear in the bar's opening months. Shaw says that even though he has opening-night jitters, he's confident Cash Only will fit nicely into an unfilled niche in Fort Lauderdale. "We've been planning this for a year. I think we created a space where everyone will feel welcome."
Cash Only Grand Opening with Spam Allstars, Immortal, and others. 10 p.m. Thursday, December 29, at Cash Only, 15 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; cashonlybar.com; 954-299-3295. Admission is free.