Fat Tap Beer Bar and Eatery in Oakland Park abruptly shuts down after six months

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jan 06, 2022 6:23 PM

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Fat Tap Beer Bar & Eatery owners Yvette and Robert Robayna, photographed in May 2021, stand outside their new building on North Dixie Highway. Six months later, the brewery and kitchen have abruptly shut down.

Fat Tap Beer Bar & Eatery owners Yvette and Robert Robayna, photographed in May 2021, stand outside their new building on North Dixie Highway. Six months later, the brewery and kitchen have abruptly shut down. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel)

A scant six months after opening on Oakland Park’s downtown Dixie Highway drag, Fat Tap Beer Bar and Eatery has poured its final pint.

The neighborhood gastropub and brewery, which debuted in late June, has permanently shut down, unable to draw a strong beer-drinking audience as COVID continues raging across the state, owners Robert and Yvette Robayna posted this week on Fat Tap’s social media.

“Yvette and I had high hopes for our new location but those hopes never became a reality in the 6 months we were open for various reasons,” Robayna posted on Facebook. “We needed to make a decision on our next move.”

Fat Tap Beer Bar and Eatery, at 3553-3555 N. Dixie Highway, occupied a pair of squat, side-by-side warehouses along the western spine of North Dixie Highway. One building, at 3555, housed a craft-beer taproom and kitchen serving charcuterie, sandwiches and flatbreads. The other building, at 3553, housed the brewing tanks, while a 2,000-square-foot beer garden behind the warehouses connected both sides.

Foot traffic declined at their new taproom and kitchen practically from the outset, unable to lure the same regulars who frequented Fat Tap’s original location on Oakland Park Boulevard a half-mile southwest. Along with COVID, Robayna also blamed for city of Oakland Park for not supporting his business.

“When you own a business across the street from City Hall, and no one from City Hall visits you, what are you going to do?” Robayna says. “I don’t mind saying this because I have nothing to lose anymore. We had one good month, which was the first month, when everyone came out to see it, and every month since has been less and less and less.”

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Admittedly, Robayna missed his regular customers more. When Fat Tap debuted on Oakland Park Boulevard in 2018, customers praised the gastropub for its hard-to-find beers on draft. Robayna reckons that COVID, in part, messed up his business model, as U.S. breweries hustled to sell the same beer over the internet directly to consumers.

Fat Tap Beer Bar and Brewery, which shared two warehouse buildings facing North Dixie Highway, decided not to install signs when customer traffic declined not long after the business opened.

Fat Tap Beer Bar and Brewery, which shared two warehouse buildings facing North Dixie Highway, decided not to install signs when customer traffic declined not long after the business opened. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel)

“Suddenly, the beers that I had were not so exclusive anymore,” he says. “And people changed the way they were going out, changed their routines.”

As his audience waned, so did his enthusiasm to brew at Fat Tap’s recently installed nanobrewery, a one-barrel system capable of producing 31 gallons of beer per batch. With growing resentment over having lost his old customers, Robayna stopped brewing beer, including a hazy pale ale with tropical grapefruit and melon notes he called “1941.”

As sales declined, he saw little benefit to putting up a Fat Tap Beer Bar sign on the front of his Dixie Highway-facing storefront – so Robayna never did.

“Putting a sign up would attract new people, but I was upset my regulars weren’t coming back,” he says.

He says Funky Buddha Brewery, across the street, continued to gain customers, but “no one wanted to cross the train tracks to our side of the street for some reason,” he says.

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