For about a dozen reasons, Happy’s Stork Lounge & Liquor Store shouldn’t exist, chief among them the fact that the island it sits on was dredged out of Biscayne Bay in 1941. A chain of three islands connected by a causeway, North Bay Village attracted upscale offerings in the 1960s and 1970s, including a club run by Dean Martin and a piano bar named Top Draw that once sat next door to Happy’s and counted Frank Sinatra among its performers and guests.
Original owner Bernard Goldlust opened Happy’s sometimes during the 1950s, the moniker given to him in contrast to his actual, grumpy demeanor. The Miami dive bar was sold to current co-owner Howard Inerfeld in 1992, the vibe inside largely unchanged across both stints of ownership. A large mural stretches around much of the space depicting regulars from the 1960s. Of course, because this is a dive bar, the color palette to the mural is dark, adding to the classically dim lighting inside.
As the name suggests, a package liquor store operates next door, open until 5 AM just like the bar. With the pandemic brought an additional tool in the toolbox, liquor delivery, making Happy’s a one-stop shop in a number of ways. Though the Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra glitz faded over the decades, new attention has been brought to the island, including the strip mall that houses Happy’s The building Happy’s Store Lounge sits in was purchased in 2021 with plans for new construction in 2022. The fate of the Miami dive bar, a needed counterpoint to the city’s continuous march toward the unaffordable, remains unclear.