FEATURED PROPERTY & BUSINESS OWNERS

John Brandt

Property Owner
1235 Washington Avenue
STORY

Jolie Glassman

Business Owner
South Beach Boxing Owner
STORY

PROPERTY OWNER

John Brandt
Iconic Theater Property Owner
1235 Washington Avenue

John Brandt 1235 Washington Avenue Property Owner

Over the last century, there are few places on Miami Beach that have withstood the test of time and transformed a city like 1235 Washington Avenue.

Some may have known it as Copa Room, Icon, Mansion, Club Level, Paragon, Decos, Club 1235, Club Z, Cinema Theater, Cinema Casino or Glam Slam where the artist, formerly known as Prince, dazzled clubbers with Purple Rain.

Behind this 30,000 square foot facility is an iconic theater operated by the Brandt family. On occasion you will see a nonchalant man bouncing up and down 12th & Washington hanging out with tenants, checking on neighbors, or showing his building to prospective lessees. That man is John Brandt. 

John received an MBA at the Stern School of Business at New York University, and it is where he also met his wife Andrea. John is one of the owners of the Brandt Organization, Inc. and a Washington Avenue business leader.Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with John to dive a little deeper into the rich history and mystique that made this location special.

Troy E Wright
When did your family take control of 1235 Washington Avenue?

John Brandt
For decades in New York City, my family has been in the entertainment business. From owning movie theaters, a bowling alley in Times Square, Sagamore Hotel and coed camp on Lake George, and the Regency Hotel in Bal Harbor, so we’ve provided hospitality and entertainment for many years.

In the 1940s my father, fondly known as Bingo Brandt, was stationed here for military training for World War II. I don’t know if it was then he decided to invest or later in the early 1950s when he came back to visit his two brothers who had purchased homes on Miami Beach, Hibiscus Island and Pine tree drive.

My father and his brothers were in the movie theatre business in the New York metropolitan area. They owned or held long-term leases in and around NYC, so it was around that time they decided to lease the Flamingo and Lincoln Theatres on Lincoln Road, and The Cinema Theatre,  an 1,192 seat theatre on Washington Avenue was known as the Cinema Casino in the 1930s.

We exercised the right to purchase the property in the early 1960s but he operated the theatre in the 1950s.

In the 1950s, Byrons, also known as Jackson Byron’s Departments Store,served as the anchor tenant and occupied over 20,000 square feet of the second and third floor of the building. But one day, they decided they no longer wanted to be in business and closed. Although they vacated the second floor, the first floor remained fully leased for the next 30 plus years.

The second and third floor asking rent was $2 per square foot. My father ran the Cinema Theatre with Jewish Vaudeville and movies. 

During the recession of the 1970’s, he concluded that Miami Beach was no longer able to support his theater operations at which point in time he closed it or dropped his leases on Lincoln Road.

In the 1980s, I was approached by I was approached by Edward Villella a well-known director of the Miami Ballot and cited as America's most celebrated male dancer of ballet at the time. I met with him to try and convince him this would be a great spot for him, but they decided it would not work and moved his ballot company to Miami.
Picture: Military Marching down Washington Avenue.
Courtesy John Brandt
1936 Prominent theater architect and designer Thomas W. Lamb
(1871-1942). Photo courtesy of the Miami & South Florida Memories
Facebook page. Paul Hampton Crocket
Troy E. Wright
What single event do you believe made the venue one of the most iconic venues in the world?

John Brandt
My father was approached by two want-to-be club operators in New York who wanted to do a Studio 54 nightclub concept in one of our Times Square area locations. My father told them he had no interest in turning his theatre into a nightclub. He had very successful businesses in New York, but he had a fabulous art deco theatre space on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach that had been sitting empty for 6 years. He suggested, you may want to fly down and look at the space because I believe it would be perfect for a nightclub. He said, I think you will think the same thing once you visit it. 

The New York prospective club operators flew down that weekend, took a huge 1982 video camera, stayed for several hours, flew back to New York and met my father that Monday. In the meeting, they said “The good news is we really love the space and we’d like to do a nightclub, the bad news is we can't give you much of a security deposit because we need to spend the majority of our money to convert it into a nightclub.

They gave us a $10,000 security deposit and the rest is history. My father idea for them to open up a nightclub, which became known as Club Z two years later, became the hottest club in the country. It was the epicenter of all things ‘clubs’ that happened in Florida. Thousands of people invaded every weekend, everyone wanted to be on Washington Avenue Miami Beach.

In 1985, we commenced an eviction proceeding against the tenant due to non payment of rent. As a result, we took over the club and opened it with a 500 person black-tie Miami Vice kickoff party that September. 

The “Vice” people actually brought in 2 school bus loads of low-risk prisoners that were tasked with painting both sides of the street between 12th & 13th pink. It was Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Edward James Olmos, Saundra Santiago, Joaquim de Almeida, John Diehl, PamGrier, Denise Thompson,  it was everyone! So without missing a beat,Washington Avenue once again was on top of the club world.

Three years later in 1988, we turned the club over to Reggie Moreau who operated the restaurant chain, Shooters.


Troy E. Wright
What are some of the most memorable events or people you’ve ever hosted at the theatre?

John Brandt
One of the most incredible events to me was when Tina Turner began her comeback tour there.

I was there, it was absolutely jammed packed and remarkable how beautiful the night was. I will say, the City officials would not have been happy with how many people were jammed in that night.

Other great performers included, Beyonce, Kool & the Gang, Chaka Khan, SOS, Level 42, Nikki Minaj, Midnight oil, …… there were a lot of them. My brother who booked the room from 1985-1988 could come up with more names than I, but a lot of great artists and performers have come through that room.

However, the most famous person that leased and operated the club from us was Prince. He opened it under the name Glam Slam. It is a funny story.It was the 90’s, and at the time, he was attempting to get out of his Warner Brothers contract. At this time, he was known as the “Artist Formerly known as Prince” but during the negotiations, my brother referred to him as Prince which his attorney, L. Londell McMillan did not like. Mr. McMillan said, “if you call my client Prince one more time this call is over.” He is the artist formerly known as Prince, not Prince. McMillan was very strong about that,he didn’t mince words.

The club lasted from 1994-1997. The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco threatened to not allow a liquor license to be held for five years at our location unless the club were sold or leased to someone else. It was sold to Ark of Miami, Inc. which did business under the name Club Level.

Club Level leased the space for two or three years then sold it to the Opium Group who called it Mansion. The Opium group had turned Amnesia, which was located on first or second and Ocean. They moved to Mansion because Amnesia was an open space, had constant noise complaints, and they wanted a closed facility. The Opium group held onto Mansion from 2003 – 2015.
By the 1950’s The theatre played double features, even second
run or B first run (e.g. “Andy Hardy Comes Home”, “Bride of the Gorilla”.)
Mostly running double feature MGM 1950’s film.
Tina Turner - Public Domain
Live at Glam Slam, Miami Beach, Florida,  
June 8, 9 10 1994
Troy E. Wright
Why do you feel this building is important to Miami Beach?

John Brandt
In the early 1930’s the builders chose Thomas Lamb as an architect to design the building and art deco theatre. Thomas Lamb was an architect involved in the Empire State Building in New York. I believe they liked what they saw on Lincoln Road and I don’t want to say “copy,” but keep the same coral keystone used on the corner of Lincoln and Washington. It mimicked a Lincoln road property in terms of size and volume of space it offered and by the time they finished in the mid 1930’s, it was the largest structure, with the exception of the courthouse between 5th and Lincoln.

It was an important building because it had a large footprint: 300 feet by 130 feet deep. The area was beautiful and had a lot of Jewish people who lived in the area.I don't know everything that happened prior to my father taking over, but he continued a great tradition of Jewish culture. Jewish people were able to get kosher meats in the building, there was a kosher butcher and a lot of everyday necessities like a hair salon and barbershop. We had all of the service businesses one would need, and when we weren’t servicing the building, we provided entertainment to everyone on the beach.

If they couldn’t go to the Lincoln or Flamingo Theatre, they were able to go several blocks and have a central meeting point where people spoke Hebrew or Yiddish. Everybody wanted to go to the movies or vaudeville at that time, so it has always been a place for people to meet and be entertained from the day it was built. 

I would say, it was seemingly all things Jewish. I don’t know what it was in the 1930’s, but when my father took over in the early 1950’s, Vaudeville was there.

On March 24th, 1967 on the corner where the Playwright Irish Pub is currently, we opened a new theatre and called it the Plaza Art Theatre. The first film featured Essie Person in a movie called “I A Women,” but the gem of the property was the cinema theatre.

The Cinema was a traffic generator. We are also unique because we area cross from the US Post Office. It was a well-traveled block. The theatre closed in 1976 – 1982 because there was not enough business to keep it open.



Troy E. Wright
Miami Beach has made a lot of changes over the last decade. Thankfully to combat the downside the property owners on Washington Avenue started the Washington Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). Since that time Pedestrian traffic is rising and vacancies are going down. What do you think it's going to take for Washington Avenue and Miami Beach to continue growing in the future? 

John Brandt
I think the city needs to put more resources into Washington Avenue to make it more inviting. I do not want to create enemies, but it’s the truth. I know that some may say the property owners shouldn’t lease to so many convenient stores, tattoo parlors, or T-shirt shops, and it would be a better street. But my response to that is we are real estate owners and must rent our space and if the pool of tenants that are coming to us are cell phone stores, fast food restaurants, or mom and pop stores, that is what the market is offering.

We had a good surge of fancy stores here in the mid-1980s to the 2000s,but things got way too expensive on the beach and people moved to other places. We had a beautiful clothing store here but they sold their store in a year. They said the retail market is changing, they were not seeing the kind of sales they were used to seeing and were not comfortable with that. 

The bottom line is market conditions will drive what tenants will come to the area. It’s not the landlord’s fault. Demographics have a lot to do with the kind of draw you receive from investors.

Because of the lure of new competition from surrounding areas, you can’t sit and wait. So what can the city do? Make it safe, be creative, make people follow the code, but don’t harass people for the sake of harassing them. 

I think people want to be happy here, but if it has a reputation of being an unclean street the people will not come. A prime example is Wynwood. At one time it had a bad reputation: unclean, dirty, and whatever, but look at it now. It's in the process of changing. The great thing is you can see the same kind of change beginning on Washington Avenue between with the Anglers, the new Moxy hotel being built on 9th, the new micro-unit hotel being built on 6th, and the first co-working / living space (Urbin Miami Beach) planned on 12th where investors are spending over $50 million dollars.

We want to make the experience of coming to Miami Beach enjoyable, and not difficult.  Whether it is a building, apartment, or anything to do with the city, it should be a little easier. I have a hair salon guy coming in from New York City who signed a lease with me on April 1, 2019. It’s now late February and he’s still not open. I'll agree that a part of the issue is the tenant's fault, but it was also the City’s fault. The city makes it extremely difficult for new people who want to come to the beach. With what the Business Improvement District has done so far and with your involvement,things will get better in time.
Credit: John Brandt. Washington Avenue between 12th & 13th Circa 1930
Credit: 3/20/1977, David Smith/Miami Herald
Staff: Cinema Theater,
Miami Beach.
The final scenes of the Lucille Ball- Henry Fonda 1942 film “The Big Street”. Although it looks like a fake art-deco set. See 4:00
Troy E. Wright
Your venue has a great tradition and legacy. Your family should be commended for investing in a space that has changed a lot of people’s lives around the world and helped make Miami Beach into what it is today.So as far a legacy, what would you like to leave behind?

John Brandt
We would like to be remembered for stewardship, how we took care of the building, and how we did our very best to bring quality and excitement over the 6 decades we’ve been there. 

I can’t ask for more than that. We try and bring the best possible tenants that we can to make it a destination. Unfortunately, there have been uphill battles like the 1970’s recession which is beyond the cities control, but with some of the recent development on the board, it will soon flourish as it did in the ’50s, ’60s, ’80s, and ’90s. It will come back! Real estate generally cycles, it is a timing thing, you have to have patience.

My family is in the entertainment business has persevered and at the end of the day, we want to be known as someone who provided clean, fun entertainment, and did a good job of keeping our properties in good shape.


Written By: Troy E. Wright

BUSINESS OWNER


This photo of South Beach Boxing is courtesy of Tripadvisor
Jolie Glassman - South Beach Boxing

Jolie Glassman
South Beach Boxing
Owner - The Re-Birth of the 5th Street Gym.

Jolie was recognized as PFP (Personal Fitness Professional) 2020 Trainer of the Year and has a long history of not being afraid to get in deep to transform the lives of those in our community that need it most.

Jolie’s story is truly incredible and I had the privilege of spending a few hours with her recently to get all the details on her journey and how she has been able to change so many lives on the second floor of a Washington Avenue gym.
THE BEGINNING

“In High School, I was a dual enrollment student. I grew up with only a Mom that was very strict. My father was Judy Garland’s producer, and he passed away when I was 2. Then I went to college for chemistry even though I wanted to do anatomy, as I fell in love with my teachers, and it’s what my mother wanted me to do, and I wanted to leave home early.

I always thought I fell into teaching and my calling through the path of least resistance, from a place of giving up, but it was really found through my desperation. I was living out of my car, while sleeping in my best friend’s bedroom.

My clothes were all in my car, and in garbage bags in her brother’s room. I remember going to take my finals, with one shoe and a sneaker.

I had no clue where its match was. I made it by bartending and waiting tables at TGI Friday’s, and also teaching aerobics, and spinning at a gym in Aventura, still there today, Olympia Gym. 

I was always taught to open my mouth, and ask for what I want, and I talked to my advisor and I ended up getting a full scholarship in a teaching degree called “F.O.C.U.S - Focus for Children in Urban Settings.”

I taught at-risk youth, in the inner cities, for two years, for free. I was the only white girl. My educational program created the best teachers, and was the best education ever.


I LIVE TO SERVE
I was successful because I listened and didn’t judge them, manners mean everything: don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.

I graduated with a BS in Education and a Masters in Behavior Modification, backpacked around the world, met my husband 6 months later in 1997, on my birthday, and out of my love for behavior modification, this is what ‘Jolie’s Kids’ was birthed out of. 

For me, my marriage was super exciting and fun, and greater than I ever imagined it could’ve been.

At that time on Miami Beach, it was the best time in the life of the clubs like Industry, Club X, Liquid, Groove Jet (where I bartended), The Spot, Sinatra Bar..I hosted “Jolie G Parties” at the Whiskey Bar! Working at the clubs is how I met my husband.

I was still a teacher from 1995-2001. I quit teaching once we opened our 2nd location, in Pembroke Pines, FL. We happened to have signed the lease the day before September 11, 2001. It ended up being a blessing, as the beach really suffered, and tourism took a dive, and our Pines location helped out, as that area doesn’t depend on tourism.

I went to run the South Beach location full-time, while my husband went to open, and run the Pembroke Pines location. 


THE BIRTH
My ex-husband said, “I’m going to do an English pub, a bowling alley, or a boxing gym,” so I said, “oh gym!” I was already a Spinning Instructor at Olympia Gym and it just made sense!

My friends called me “Gym.” I started working out in my early teens because my Mom was heavy and I didn’t want to be heavy. I had no clue what boxing meant, but my secret to teaching kids in the inner city was that I let them fight, one-on-one, no one jump in - and I facilitated that.

See Jolie’s skills in action: Sizzle Reel, the Executive Producer of ExtremeWeight Loss Edition filmed Jolie in action at the gym leading her staff and visibly changing people's lives inside her gym!

I was teaching in the ghetto, at the worst schools, and it just worked. My kids stopped fighting. I started bussing my kids to my gym, so they could start fighting in the gym, and really learn true strength, discipline, character, honor, etc. Then I really started eating, sleeping, and breathing boxing!
Jolie’s Kids at South Beach Boxing
My ex-husband used to train at the 5th Street Gym and was so sad when it closed in 1993 for good, as the building was condemned. South Florida Boxing opened in 1998.

There was no boxing on Miami Beach for 5 years. We met Angelo Dundee in 1998 (his brother Chris Dundee was the owner of 5th Street Gym).

Luis Lagerman was the Head trainer of Angelo Dundee. Luis worked for me for 11 years, and came to me from Angelo when he closed his small training center in Broward. Angelo was in his late 70’s at the time. 

Angelo Dundee and Jolie Glassman at South Beach Boxing Gym
When we opened the gym, we would educate people and say “we were the re-birth of the 5th Street Gym” and people would say, “what is that?” “Who’s Angelo?” And we would say, “It’s Muhammad Ali’s Trainer.” Then they would figure it out, “Oh! We know Muhammed Ali!” “And then we would tell people: Bo Jack was in here daily and Roberto Duran and his whole Team Freedom were training at our gym.

We wanted to glorify Angelo because he was amazing! People would say Angelo trained David Estrada, but Luis trained him.
Roy Jones trained at South Beach Boxing.


Roy Jones and Jolie Glassman at
South Beach Boxing
Jolie’s ex-husband dedicated a plaque to Angelo in honor of training 15 World Champions here at his brother’s gym, Chris Dundee, at the 5th St. Gym (unrelated to this newer one). Muhammad Ali came for the celebration, and many other A-listers and city officials.

The after-party celebration was at South Beach Boxing (formerly known as South Florida Boxing) with Angelo, Ali, and all the other attendees. They all walked up to us on 7th and Washington, from the previous gym location on 5th and Washington!


Angelo Dundee & Muhammed Ali in 2002
for Angelo Dundee’s 80th birthday celebration!
I brought the kids here after school every day. Even now, when teachers are having trouble with a classroom, I’ll come in and help teach the classroom. 

Jolie’s Kids teaches manners, commitment, honor, and discipline. Don’t walk in and not say hi or goodbye - it came from what my Mom taught me growing up. You get way more with honey!

I want to serve, win-win, and make this worth your time.

I live to serve because I already know people don’t want to have their time wasted, so I focus on communication with my team.

I am an includer and very much so for the underdog. I want the underdog. It’s really important to me that every person feels included at South Beach Boxing.

THE TURNING POINT
In 2007, my ex left a note and said, “Thanks for enlightening me, and changing my life, it’s time I move on to my next chapter..”
I lost all the gyms: South Beach, Pembroke Pines, and Aventura.

I signed everything over to my ex and he ran everything into the ground because of the current mortgage crisis in 2008. My divorce was really messy and we had lawyers involved, so I was just ready to sell the South Beach gym because I wanted money for my divorce. But my lawyer told me if I didn’t settle today, I would lose everything, so my ex signed the papers and he gave me the South Beach gym AS IS, WITH all his accrued lines of credits and debt. I loved that place though; it was my baby, plus I needed a job. 

I didn’t even know where the air conditioner was or anything else for that matter!

My ex told me that all the staff would quit and leave, so I told him I would just find my own people. I had a meeting with all 30 trainers and said this is not about my marriage or my divorce, so if you don’t want to stay you don’t have to, but you’re welcome to stay if you all get along.

Amazing energy, community, clear and open communication, were just a few of the MUSTS for my business…..MY LIFE, as my gym is an expression of who I am in the World.



Jolie Glassman, her South Beach Boxing Team, & some of the members!
This duo, Tom and Dino, wanted to buy my gym. Tom used to come to our South Beach gym every year from Chicago and he loved it so much. He was one of our many raving fans, yet I always remembered him saying that he wanted to buy the gym, if we ever wanted to sell it. Well, when it was time for me to get the gym back in my divorce, Tom threatened me on the phone and said, “if you don’t sell me your gym, I’m going to open down the street from you and put you out of business.”

Heidy, my previous manager at the gym, who worked there when we were still married for several years, and was there when I got it back, is the reason I kept the gym. She said, “if they buy the gym, I’m leaving, and I have another job offer at a bank, so don’t worry about me, but if you want to keep it, I’ll stay on, and not take that other job offer, and we’ll figure it out.” 

I made up my mind and no matter what happened, I was going to stay. I wanted to quit many times, but my mission, drive, and team are so amazing. I can’t quit!

My greatest successes I attribute to my learning because of my divorce and it gave me independence and gave me FUN.


THE FUTURE
June 13th (my birthday) starts: Mind, Body, Spirit FIT events / courses focused on LIFE, healing, honor, and commitment. Transformation happens in the sharing. I will be sharing AND HOW FIT ARE YOU? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?

I’m writing 2 books: One is my autobiography and the other is Life According to the Rules of Boxing - The only reason I’m writing books is to share, influence, and teach!

I really want to write it and I can think of a million other things to do, so I’m buckling down because I don’t want an editor to change and twist my words.

South Beach Boxing is a house of transformation.

Jolie Glassman & Boxing Champion, Evander Holyfield
In the next five years I hope to see everything full and it’s going to help everything on Washington Avenue!” -Jolie Glassman, South Beach Boxing Owner.

SEE LIST OF FAMOUS FREQUENTERS / VISITORS AT - https://southbeachboxing.com/about/famous-visitors/

Writen by Jaclyn Dix
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