November 30, 2019: Miami Beach got creative in curbing the aggressive hawking at sidewalk cafés by making permits for the cafés on City property dependent on each operator agreeing to a Code of Conduct that, among other things, prohibits solicitation. As of November 25th, the number of violations on Ocean Drive totaled 26 but restaurant operators are protesting with most under appeal.
The new regulations – which carry hefty penalties for multiple violations – have been in effect on Ocean Drive since late September. Six cafés had to close for 24 hours on a Thursday in mid-October after receiving at least two violations and one of them is now under a settlement agreement after racking up four citations.
Penalties for violating the code of conduct are $500 for the first violation; $750 for a second violation within the preceding 12 months; a third violation within 12 months includes the suspension of the sidewalk café permit for one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and a $1,000 fine. The fourth violation in a year results in the revocation of the sidewalk café permit for the remaining portion of the permit year and a $1,250 fine. Operators with more than four violations in a permit year will lose their permit for two years.
Boulevard received a total of four violations. It paid one fine for $1,000 and had appealed the three others. The agreement between Boulevard and the City indicates the café operators admit liability and withdraw their appeals. A copy of the Sidewalk Café Code of Conduct will be provided to every employee and be reviewed with them and a formal prohibition of solicitation of pedestrians by employees will be instituted along with a discipline procedure. In addition, a surveillance camera or other camera “with sufficient quality capability, sound and video coverage of the sidewalk café area” will be installed and be remotely accessible by the City to monitor compliance.
Boulevard was forced to close for a Saturday and Sunday night at the beginning of this month as part of the agreement. However, according to the settlement, Boulevard acknowledges that any further citations during the permit year which runs October 1 through September 30, 2020 will result in revocation of its permit and disqualify it from receiving a new sidewalk café permit for the following two years.
There are 41 sidewalk café permits issued to Ocean Drive businesses. Of the 26 violations issued over the past two months, 18 different restaurants were cited.
In addition to Boulevard, the other businesses that were forced to close their sidewalk cafés for 24 hours on Thursday, October 17 had two violations each. They include Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar and Arcade, the café at The Fritz and Jalapeño Mexican Kitchen both owned by Zafer Acik, News Café and Ocean's Ten. The owners of Ocean’s Ten also manage the News Café. Both Acik and Anthony Arrighi-Gonzalez of Ocean’s Ten told RE:MiamiBeach in October they supported the new rules but think the City has taken them to an extreme. All of the operators on this list are appealing the violations.
Restaurants with one violation, all being appealed, include:
- Margarita Beach Club, formerly La Baguette which was closed down by the City for serving alcohol to minors, had its BTR (business license) revoked early in 2018, and was denied a new BTR for the 2019 permit year. According to City records, Margarita Beach Club is owned and managed by Anselmo Hernandez, who also owned and managed La Baguette under the same LLC, Ocean Drive LB.
- Social Café
- La Trattoria
- Carlyle Café
- On Ocean 7
- The Palace
- Café Milano
In a walk on Ocean Drive from 7th to 15th Friday, November 29, around 3 pm, this reporter was solicited by Social with “half off drinks happy hour." A hostess at Il Giardino followed for a few steps offering “2 for 1 drinks.” A hostess at Ocean’s Ten only said “hello, welcome” but stepped forward as she spoke.
On Lincoln Road and Española Way where the rules have been in effect for a month, a total of seven operators have been cited for one violation – four on Lincoln Road out of a total of 43 permitted sidewalk cafés and three on Española Way where there are 10 sidewalk café permits issued. As these were all issued on November 22, there is no word yet on disposition of the citations (payment of fines or appeals).
Lincoln Road citations issued to:
- 7 Spices
- Maya’s Grill
On Española Way, the following were cited by the City.
- Mercato Della Pescheria (identified in an earlier version as Vida Y Estilo)
- Mare Mio
- Española Cigars