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Fort Lauderdale sports bar Township abruptly closes, paving way for live-music BBQ joint Tin Roof this fall

Township Fort Lauderdale — the half-German beer hall, half-neighborhood pub where tribes of sports fans came for camaraderie, craft beer and Super Bowl parties — abruptly closed on May 12 after four years in the downtown area.

Tim Petrillo, cofounder of The Restaurant People (S3, YOLO, Java & Jam), wasted little time or fanfare shutting the doors to Township: He locked up the bar and took down Township’s website and social accounts a few hours after selling the lease to Tin Roof, a Nashville-based, barbecue-and-live-music chain that is expected to reopen in that space later this fall.

“We made money on it. It was a great deal for us,” Petrillo told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday morning, although he declined to disclose the purchase price. “We’re not sad that we closed this store. They offered us a good number, and it was good for both sides.”

The sports pub at 219 S. Andrews Ave., within the historic McCrory Building, took up an enviable perch downtown: next to The Wharf Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas Boulevard and a sprawl of new residential towers. When it debuted in 2018, Township’s menu leaned on German-style bratwursts and pretzels but also served burgers and fish sandwiches that evoked the comfort fare at Petrillo’s bygone eatery Tarpon Bend.

The bar also served as a college-football hub, especially for Florida State Seminole acolytes, Petrillo says. But as college crowds left downtown and young professionals shuffled into nearby high-rises, the character of the neighborhood gentrified and foot traffic dried up, Petrillo explains.

“It’s tough to run a college-town business in a more upscale downtown,” says Petrillo, who has owned the building with real-estate investor Steven Halmos since 1998. “It’s great to be a sports bar, but it’s also a curse. It’s really busy for football and basketball, but during baseball season, the low season, there wasn’t as much intensity to go there.”

Over the next few months, the 6,800-square-foot space will be equipped with a high-end music stage, says Bob Franklin, Tin Roof’s partner and CEO. The walls will be redecorated with mulitcolored, reclaimed wood and aluminum siding. The new Tin Roof Fort Lauderdale will employ 50-70 full-time staffers, including a stable of sound engineers to wire the music stage for nightly music acts. This will be Florida’s third Tin Roof bar after opening in Orlando in 2015 and on Delray Beach’s buzzy Atlantic Avenue in 2019.

“We’ve got a great location and great visibility,” Franklin says of the venue, which seats 220 people inside and on its Andrews Avenue-facing patio. “I think Fort Lauderdale has grown up a bit, and now there’s upscale shops and professionals looking for cool entertainment experiences when they go out. That ticked all our boxes.”

The addition of Tin Roof Fort Lauderdale is a boon for local and national rock and country acts which already play the venue’s other metropolitan locations in Detroit, New Orleans, San Diego, Baltimore and Memphis, Franklin says.

“We’re giving them one more venue to plug into as they travel our Tin Roof network all over the country,” he says. “There’s always demand for emerging artists, and that keeps us going.”

Tin Roof’s Nashville-inspired menu will be “nearly identical” to that of Tin Roof Delray Beach, Franklin says. Dishes include Nashville hot chicken, fried pickles, barbecue pulled pork quesadillas, burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese, and a suite of a la carte tacos. Their bar touts craft cocktails, draft beers, wines and Red Bull-infused drinks.

Tin Roof Fort Lauderdale, at 219 S. Andrews Ave., is expected to debut later this fall. Go to TinRoofBars.com.

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