Fort Apache was nothing short of addictive. It was magnetic. Even if you didn’t own a boat, you would be drawn in by the lifestyle and the indisputable allure of it all. People would come to soak up the atmosphere—to sit there and simply watch. There were people sunbathing, people doing business, people eating, people drinking and people simply enjoying. An indescribable energy pervaded the area. The Fort was a who’s who of the sports, music, TV, movie and business worlds. This was where the stars would congregate. This is where history would be made.
Miami’s reputation in the 1980s and ‘90s is a legend unto itself. People the world over know exactly what you’re talking about when you refer to this specific place and these specific eras. It’s more than likely that they’ll be able to conjure up an image to go with it too—something with a white Italian supercar, maybe a Testarossa or a Countach. They’ll think of palm trees, and they’ll think of neon blues, yellows, pinks and greens. They can practically feel the summer’s heat, and they know what the city’s soundtrack was—think synths, drum machines and screaming guitars. But when asked to pinpoint the origin of those stereotypes or to identify a real-world example, most people would be at a loss.
Juan Almeida’s Fort Apache on Thunderboat Row was where this dream of late-20th century Miami proliferated. It was a marina, but it was so much more. It was a restaurant, a meeting place and a boat brokerage. It was the place to be seen and to make your name known. Originally founded by Ben Kramer and his father in 1986, it was soon seized by the United States Marshals Service following their indictment on R.I.C.O. charges. Almeida took over the operation in 1989, transforming it into the epitome of what we think about when we think about Miami.
Read more about Juan Almeida & Fort Apache in VÉHICULE.