Almost 22 years ago I moved to Fort Lauderdale to become the GM of the infamous 825 Club on Sunrise Blvd. 825 was the stripper club you came to when you wanted to see muscular men, and if you wanted to see twink, you went to Johnny’s, where Uncle Al worked. I clearly remember the first time I met Uncle Al and how sweet he was to me. That sweetness and big smile is just what you get every time you talk with Uncle Al and it is my honor to write this feature just days before we celebrate his 90th birthday at Le Boy.
Al was born in Brooklyn New York, and he worked in a candy shop in the Bronx while he was in school. When he got divorced in 1980, he made his way down to Fort Lauderdale to start a new life. After sitting on his butt for a while (Al’s Words), his aunt convinced him to get up and start working. He became the controller for American Excess, which was a company that bought all excess materials and sold them (fusions, lightbulbs, etc.).Anything that was in great qty and can be resold in electronics. After working there he worked at another company that did the same thing.
When that job ended he started bartending. He was helping Johnny in fixing up his new bar – Johnny’s – and then he started working there as a bartender, and then became a manager there and stayed with him until the day he sold it to Sean David.
Sean asked him to stay on, which he happily did and he has worked for Sean ever since. According to Al “I am very happy working for Sean, we have a wonderful association.”
When I asked Al about his relationship with Johnny, he said: “Our relationship just clicked from the time I met him and he became family. When he got sick I watched him as closely as I could with some other close friends.”
I asked Al if he had a favorite bartender and he said “Andy is my favorite, because we have such a great relationship and I am happy to say I hired him. Don’t get me wrong the other bartenders are all wonderful, but Andy has a special place in my heart.
I asked a couple of Al’s friends to tell me about him:
Gary Day said: “I have known Uncle Al for about 30 years. He was always a smiling face anytime I went to Johnny’s at their first location and their last location. I was always impressed how he had time to help all the older guys as well as the younger boys who came from all over the country with no idea what they were going to do to make it. Al gave advise, food and help in any way he could without expecting anything back from anyone. I am proud to call him my friend and I still look forward to coming to ft. Lauderdale to see Al and hear what is going on with him and his friends. We speak every week to make sure things are good, and he is lucky to being turning 90 and be in such good health. Happy Birthday Al see you at your party.”
David Alhadeff Said: “I’ve known Al for over 15 years and during that time, I’ve found him to be a passionate and dedicated soul who takes pride in everything he does. He purely cares for and believes in the better good of people, and is a true friend. He is gentle, loved, and appreciated by all. Many come to seek advice and/or simple comfort from Al. Although living in Florida, he has touched the lives of so many people around the country. To me, he is simply a special person. He is a man who has so many positive attributes that I’d like to sum it up with one statement. You are just BEAUTIFUL! May your 90th birthday bring you fantastic memories, opportunities, and most of all, extreme joy! You’re the best, Al! Love ya, David.”
I then sat down with Sean David, Owner of LeBoy, and he said:
“Al is working for me almost 15 years and is very special to me. He is a charming, lovely and exciting man. He is always smiling. Every time I ask him how he is doing he says “I am doing fantastic.” He loves life, his family and his friends. He is always trying to help people so I wanted to do something for people to celebrate what a great human being he is. He is a breath of fresh air, and anyone who really knows Al is blessed.”
Sean invites the entire community to come together to celebrate this special individual, this “Angel” as Sean calls him at his 90th Birthday celebration this weekend Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8 at LeBoy with a complimentary buffet at 7pm both nights.