First Look: Hi 5, Now Open in the Flats

The casual sports bar joins Welcome to the Farm, Glamper and other Forward venues

click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.

On a busy summer weekend, Forward Hospitality will welcome approximately 6,000 guests at its various Flats-based businesses. The multifaceted portfolio includes FWD Day + Nightclub, Welcome to the Farm, Good Night John Boy, Glamper and I Hate Cowboys, which is the baby of the bunch at three months old. Last week, the prolific hospitality group rolled out its latest concept, Hi 5, a casual sports bar-themed spot that is sandwiched between the Farm and Glamper rooftop bar.

Also this summer, Raheem Sealey joined the team as chef-partner. Since Memorial Day, his new menus have elevated the offerings at the venues that offer food, mainly Welcome to the Farm, I Hate Cowboys and, starting this week, Hi 5. Sealey was working at the celebrated KYU restaurant in Miami until the Covid shutdown, at which point he started down the barbecue route. The chef’s Drinking Pig BBQ pop-ups quickly became the talk of the town, selling out daily and garnering the title of Best BBQ from the Miami New Times.

The Virgin Islands native named his barbecue business after the famous beer-drinking pigs of St. Croix. At Drinking Pig BBQ at the Farm, guests can enjoy traditional barbecue items like brisket, ribs, pulled pork, pork belly, sausage and beef ribs in platters with classic sides or as handhelds.

“We do low and slow, which is what Texas does, but we jazz it up with different flavors – some Caribbean, some Asian – from my background of cooking,” Sealey explains. “I try not put myself in any box. As chefs we don’t get to express our talent the way we want to because we end up doing a specific cuisine.”

The Hi 5 space was an empty shell waiting for an identity, says Forward principal Bobby Rutter.

“As the area evolved we kept debating what else it needed,” he says. “We wanted to create a spot that’s neighborhood focused – kind of like the Cheers of the Flats.”

The second-level space has been home to the seasonal Christmas Bar – and will continue to do so, adds Rutter – but now it’s a handsome sports bar. The team touched every surface, adding new wood floors, brick veneer, new furniture, fixtures and lighting. A pool table nook overlooks Old River Road and other bar games will be added. Like all of the Flats-based properties, it has exceptional river views and garage doors that open high and wide.

Up here, Sealey utilizes the same craft barbecue but delivers it in a more appropriate bar-focused way. The menu has things like pulled pork nachos, brisket-stuffed egg rolls, smoked chicken wings, smoked turkey clubs and lighter bowls starring smoked chicken or salmon.

I Hate Cowboys rolled out in spring, bringing with it a more relaxed environment bolstered by a killer bourbon selection. Located across the alley patio from Welcome to the Farm, the bar offers a peaceful escape from the crowds, noise and three-deep bars.

“It’s been a game-changer for us because it’s higher end, seated and not nearly as crowded,” Rutter states. “It’s a little bit of an extension from the Farm, but it’s a different vibe.”

At Cowboys, Sealey offers a more streamlined menu starring buttermilk fried chicken, a burger and a few other items. Those foods are joined by craft cocktails and other beverages.

The added food items throughout the entire compound have given all the properties a boost, says Rutter. Those improvements happen to coincide with a continued rise in numbers that the Flats and adjoining waterways have been seeing this year.

“We’ve never sold the volume of food that we’ve sold down here over the last 60 days,” Rutter reports. “This is my 10th year down here and we’ve never seen this much boat traffic. It’s not even close.”

click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.
click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.
click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.
click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.
click to enlarge Hi 5 is now open in the Flats. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Hi 5 is now open in the Flats.
click to enlarge Drinking Pig BBQ is now open at Welcome to the Farm in the Flats. - Logo
Logo
Drinking Pig BBQ is now open at Welcome to the Farm in the Flats.

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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