Get to Know the Guys Behind Sweetwater Beer Garden

January 31, 2014 | by STEPHANIE DUNN | Food & Drink News

Tatanks Guerrero and Burton WilkinsTatanka Guerrero and Burton Wilkins

Question: What kind of bar do two veterans of Miami’s nightlife industry create when given the chance? Answer: Sweetwater Beer Garden. Started as a pop-up bar hidden in a leafy courtyard between the Ansonia and Plymouth Hotels, next month Sweetwater is getting a permanent home of its own in the courtyard of the South Beach Hotel. With the scent of barbecue wafting in the breeze and piped-in rock music, Sweetwater is decidedly more backyard than Black Card.

And that, says owner Tatanka Guerrero, is the point. He and partner Burton Wilkins are used to taking the pulse of Miami nightlife, having cut their teeth on some of the Beach’s most iconic parties (Guerrero is also part owner of Radio Bar). But Sweetwater’s refreshingly offbeat vibe is informed by the partners’ travels and passions: Guerrero discovered skateboarding at age 10 when he arrived in the States from Chile, and Wilkins has traveled the Caribbean and Central America surfing competitively.

“Sweetwater reflects how we live our lives day to day,” says Wilkins. “You don’t see surfers in the club.”

Guerrero adds, “We’re not a transient city anymore, where people come to rage. That’s the old South Beach. People are actually living here, creating families, and opening businesses. The locals have grown, and they’ve developed a voice.”

“At Sweetwater, everyone is someone. That’s the beauty of it.” 235 21st St., Miami Beach, 305-531-3464

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY JAMES

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