Meet Jason Odio, one of the minds behind Sidebar. He’s built an incredible presence within the Miami nightlife realm, starting out his early days on the South Beach scene. Odio was a well-respected promoter for Opium Group, a local night-life management company, with the hook ups at all the “in” clubs on the beach like Mokai, Louis, Set and Mansion.
As the seasons changed and trends shifted, like they always do in Miami, Jason developed an appetite for something more. We sat down with Odio to learn about his role at Sidebar, his deep roots in Miami, and what he’s got in the works next.
How did Sidebar get its name?
It’s funny, originally this was a Miami Herald storage depot. So to honor its roots, we looked up journalistic terms and the one that popped out was sidebar. Being that we’re on the side of the expressway and we typically utilize the side entrance, we decided to pay homage to what the building once was, and Sidebar was born.
What compelled you to choose Brickell?
We just wanted to make another alternative to South Beach and Wynwood. I’ve lived in Brickell for 5 years and I never went out in the area because there was nowhere I really enjoyed going. So we built this place, basically an alternative for Miami locals. I’m Cuban — I was born and raised in Miami. To be able to do stuff here and honor my history and help elevate the Miami community is incredibly rewarding.
We want to be a venue that embraces the arts, be it live music, actual art, films, etc. So for jazz night we knew we wanted it as a staple during the week. It kind of started as a selfish thing, because the people involved with me here enjoy jazz as much as I do, so that’s how the jazz night honestly came about. On Thursday nights, we brought in Joel Meinholz and Pancho de Pablo to host a ladies night for us. They had the idea of doing something more for the girls than just complimentary drinks, such as offering food or sweets like ice cream. We got in contact with a local company in Hialeah called Tio Colo that makes homemade ice cream sandwiches. To tie in a local small businesses, we were happy to use them. Free ice cream, free drinks, it’s hard to turn that down. The ladies night special is free drinks from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., plus free ice cream and interactive games.
You started your early days on South Beach as a nightlife promoter, how has that transformation been?
I’ve been involved in nightlife since I was 16 years old. It was one of those things where I was either going to leave the business as a whole, or dive deeper into it and do something that I wanted to do that my friends, at this point in their lives, would enjoy. The older I got, the less my friends wanted to go out to the places that I worked as a promoter, so I decided to dive deeper and open a place that all my friends were welcome at.
Sidebar is definitely known for its funky throwback music. How did you decide on the musical vibe?
We really pride ourselves on playing good, fun music. It’s not too serious. Any age or any type of person can relate to one part of the night, because we’ll play a song you haven’t heard in 10 years, or we’ll play a song that you weren’t expecting. We kind of try and touch everyone — we have a guy who plays vinyl, we have guys who play the keyboard live. People love it.
What’s next for you?
Well, our soft opening was Halloween 2014, so we’ve been in business a little over half a year. Now I’m working on launching a restaurant bar up the street at 8th St. and 15th Ave. We just started construction.