*The Plantain Goes Undercover to Bring the Shocking Truth to Light**By Lisa W. Hopper*
I wasn’t sure I’d survive the night. The duct tape around my ankles was way too tight. I asked myself, How had I gotten here?
Over a year ago, I decided to go undercover to report on this story by becoming a frequent patron at Miami’s well known slum-bar in order to get to the truth: who owns Churchill’s Pub.
I had long suspected that, with his face emblazoned on the building’s exterior, it was The Man, The British Bulldog, Winnie, Winston Churchill himself. I was about to get to the bottom of this. I had been warned by many that this wasn’t going to be an easy story to report on.
Fumbling into the Light of Truth
My first step in investigative reporting took me to Google, where I discovered the actual address of the pub, 5501 NE 2 Avenue, a location in the heart of Little Haiti. After hours more of internet research and discerning that I would not actually have to buy a plane ticket to Haiti, I Ubered it over to the establishment, a long-standing dive for the down-and-out that only recently turned happening-hipster music and stand-up comedy venue.
>###I was going in, and going in too deep.
After several nights of guzzling cheap beer and chancing on the pub grub, I sidled up to long-time bar fly and Churchill’s old timer, Rusty Mecregans. It cost me several beers, but soon his stories began flowing like beer from a tap. Rusty, gray-bearded and deeply malodorous, has been going to Churchill’s since its grand opening—he couldn’t remember the date or who owned the bar. He suggested that I check outside in the dumpster for clues.
After eight pints, I was FUBAR—fucked up beyond all reason, a bar term for wasted out of your mind. I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to maintain my journalistic bias any longer. I was going in, and going in too deep.
A Fruitless, Fateful Night
Against the recommendations of many, I decided to follow this lead into the alley. I approached the dumpster, which hadn’t been picked up in six days, with hesitation and more than a little aversion. As a precaution against roaches, I duct-taped my pants legs down. I entered the dumpster with much trepidation. I began to dig, finding no useful information—but I will say that fish and chips are good cold after a bender no matter what anyone says. That’s when it happened: I fell asleep.
I was awaken to the obnoxious beeping of the trash truck signaling the necessity of a rapid dumpster egress. The duct tape around my ankles was too tight, but had done its job. However, failing to tape my sleeves, I found roaches in my bra. How had I gotten here? My need to know the truth had pushed me nearly to the brink of destruction. I chocked it up to just another fruitless night of journalistic reporting.
Following a tip-off from a well-meaning bag lady who frequents the dumpster, I decided to see if the local government could provide any answers.
History Provides a Clue
Checking the annals of Miami Dade’s Local Business Occupational Licenses, I discovered that Churchill’s was opened by a guy named Dave Daniels. I tracked him down and asked him point blank if he inherited the bar from Winston Churchill. “No, I opened the bar in 1979,” he said, a hint of British accent in his voice. His sleeves were rolled up revealing elbows well-calloused by years of bar propping. Daniels stated that he was no relation to Winston Churchill, who died in 1965, and that in 2014 he sold the bar to Mallory Kauderer, also no relation to The British Bulldog.
No Questions Remain Unanswered
I am reminded of a quote from Winnie, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I had researched the issue with true gritty journalistic reporting integrity and had the malt vinegar stained pants to prove it. I had looked into the maw of FUBAR and returned. And I had gotten to the heart of the issue and revealed the truth to the concerned masses: Churchill’s is not owned by Winston Churchill. My job here was done. I was going home.
Before this article went to press, The Plantain was informed by one of the bartenders that some of the paint had peeled from the exterior of the building of Churchill’s pub. However, this has not affected patronage of the establishment.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist and guest staff writer for The Plantain. She can be encountered at the Little Haiti AA meeting house on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
_The fruit sections of Miami’s grocery stores sometimes have fruit flies. Click here for a first-person account of a trip to Sedano’s Supermercado by reporter Lisa W. Hopper._
“This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”—Winston Churchill