Relax In The Cool Breeze Of The Trade Winds

August 16, 2015
2 mins read

In 1946, two merchant seamen opened the Trade Winds Lounge in downtown St. Augustine. It reflected the rustic charm of the South Seas bars they frequented while sailing far from their Florida home. The lounge changed hands in 1954 and generations of the Leonard family have operated “the Oldest Lounge in the Oldest City” ever since.

“My Aunt Betty was the first of the Leonards to own the lounge,” says owner Janet Leonard of Elizabeth Leonard Clark, who purchased the bar with husband Rex Clark. “I began working at the lounge for my mother on my 18th birthday in 1980, 35 years ago. Since her passing in 2001, I have been the sole proprietor of the lounge.”

webP1100454Located on the bayfront at 124 Charlotte Street with a view of the Bridge of Lions, the Trade Winds Lounge still boasts a tropical atmosphere befitting of a sailor, with artifacts collected from the seamen’s travels in the South Seas including a grinning idol, solid teak bar, and bamboo that adorns the “Dai Bar,” but the establishment attracts people from all walks of life. “Trade Winds is quite a melting pot of patrons. We get anyone from bikers to lawyers, locals and tourists, students to retirees,” Leonard says. “We have a great group of local patrons who have continued to support Trade Winds over the years.”

Leonard is excited to celebrate St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary, and her location is central to the city’s festivities. “Trade Winds will be having live music everyday starting at 1pm during the 450th celebration as well as our live bands every night,” she says. Local patrons enjoy the atmosphere and the drinks, but the primary appeal is the commitment to live music. Trade Winds continues to host live, local bands seven days a week as it has for years. Such well-known acts to perform include Gamble Rogers, the Infamous Art Shill and the Folksters with Nigel Pickering and Paul Champion, Jimmy Buffet, and The First Rotagilla Band.

As the years went by, the Leonard Family shifted the artistic focus to feature a little bit of everything from rock n’ roll to country. Local acts like Matanzas, Spanky, Lisa and the Madhatters, Those Guys, Blistur and the Red River Band helped generate a musical evolution as colorful as the lounge’s history. “I’ve done a lot of traveling and there are not too many cities with this much live music going on. I believe a lot of patrons return to St. Augustine to support their favorite local artists and have a cocktail or two,” says Leonard. “The music scene is very important to my patrons and my business. The patrons are very loyal to our local musicians, and I feel very fortunate to have such great local talent living in our community.”

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