City Shuts Down La Baguette

Ocean Drive

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

City Shuts Down La Baguette:

restaurant known for "scams" ultimately flagged for underage alcohol sales

The effort to clean up Ocean Drive moved into high gear today when the City announced it had shut down the La Baguette restaurant for serving alcohol to minors. In a statement released this evening, the City said the action was a result of an investigation over the last several weeks by the Miami Beach Police and Code Compliance Departments which uncovered several wait staff who “repeatedly sold alcohol to minors, as well as facilitated the removal of open containers from the restaurant”.
 
In an order revoking the restaurant’s Business Tax Receipt (BTR) and Certificate of Use, and in a separate order suspending it’s Sidewalk Café Ordinance, the City references the “habitual conduct and activity at La Baguette” and states the “alleged conduct and activity warrants an emergency revocation”. The orders go on to say, “La Baguette must immediately cease its business operations and shall immediately terminate all business activities at the premises.”
 
In the statement, City Manager Jimmy Morales said, “Based on the nature and gravity of the allegations uncovered, I determined that this presented an actual threat to the public health, welfare and safety, and it was imperative that we acted swiftly to remedy this situation.”
 
The employees observed in the investigation “will be charged with selling, giving or serving an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age, which is a violation of State Law, and a second degree misdemeanor,” the City said.
 
In addition to the underage alcohol sales, the order revoking the BTR notes “It has been further determined that those prices for food or drink menu items, or food or drink menu specials, have not been disclosed or displayed in a manner consistent with the City Code.”
 
While the City Commission considers a Sidewalk Café ordinance to tighten up the regulations for deceptive business practices including price gauging and bait and switch tactics that a few “bad operators” are known to engage in, at last week’s Finance Committee meeting members passed a resolution to direct the City Manager to enforce current regulations to their fullest using undercover shoppers and other tactics which it appears he is doing with regard to price disclosure and menu displays.
 
La Baguette has a one star rating on Yelp and has a long string of complaints about price “scams”.  Commissioners have had enough. At the Finance Committee meeting, Commissioner John Alemán said, “Let’s go do some serious undercover and let’s go revoke some BTRs … because I’m telling you, we go revoke 2-3-4 BTRs this isn’t gonna happen anymore.”
 
The Ocean Drive Association has expressed its desire to work collaboratively with the Commission in fixing the problems that are generally attributed to 4-6 businesses. In a text message response for a comment on today’s action’s, Mike Palma, Operating Partner for the Clevelander and Chairman of the Ocean Drive Association said, “The Ocean Drive Association does not condone any illegal activity and will cooperate in any way necessary.”
 
The Sidewalk Café ordinance, sponsored by Commissioner Mark Samuelian, and the resolution to enforce will be considered at the Commission’s next meeting on February 14.
 
La Baguette had been doing business at 1052 Ocean Drive.
 
Photo: Shutterstock.com
 
 
 
 

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