Columbus Restaurant Loses Its Sidewalk Café Permit

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Columbus Restaurant Loses Its Sidewalk Café Permit:

Miami beach continues its efforts to clean up ocean drive

The City of Miami Beach has denied a sidewalk café permit renewal for the Columbus Restaurant on Ocean Drive. Citing “numerous violations” of the City Code as well as “deceptive and misleading practices,” Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales notified the restaurant of the denial and ordered it to “immediately cease all sidewalk café operations.”
Morales reminded the owners that, “[T]he approval and issuance of a sidewalk café permit is conditional at all times.”
“In addition to the numerous violations of the City Code, the City has also been made aware of Columbus’ deceptive and misleading practices by way of numerous complaints, and an astounding number of derogatory online reviews regarding its business operations,” Morales wrote. “In reviewing the nature and gravity of the complaints in connection with the ongoing habitual conduct and activity on the Premises, the City Manager has determined that such behavior presents an actual threat to the public health, welfare, and safety of the residents and visitors of the City.”
The restaurant has an average rating of one star on Yelp. Some recent comments:
“Con Job. Here's your warning! BOGO drink....the 1st one is $55!” Jerry E., Austin, TX
“Miami is beautiful, and I get that location is everything. But this place was a joke, our waiter ‘john’ tried to charge us 141.90 for 2 drinks. Awful Service, watered down drinks. AVOID at all cost, stay away!” Alejandra W, Concord CA.
“SCAM ALERT!! This place is a total scam. We asked for 3 mojitos! The bill was $215!” Lola D, Cupertino, CA
“They have a special for 2 to 1... But that special for two drinks for one price is $71 after they add all of the service charges and taxes into the price.”  Josh K, Wilmington, DE
The restaurant is located at 736 Ocean Drive. Four tables remain within its setback as seen in the photo above but the tables have been removed from the City’s right of way.
During a fairly uneventful Memorial Day Weekend this year, the Columbus was the site of a street brawl that began inside and spilled out onto Ocean Drive.

In a text message comment on the denial, Ocean Drive Association Chairman Mike Palma said, “The Ocean Drive Association is all about improving the Ocean Drive brand, enhancing the Ocean Drive guest experience and if our City is doing its diligence to support same, we’re going to 100% support the City.”
Most of the restaurants on Ocean Drive have smaller venues inside and make the bulk of their revenue through the sidewalk cafés, making a permit denial a powerful tool for the City in its efforts to clean up Ocean Drive.
Earlier this year, La Baguette at 1052 Ocean Drive was shut down for serving alcohol to minors and deceptive business practices including price gauging and “bait and switch” tactics. The owners of La Baguette recently applied for a new sidewalk café permit and were denied.

Photo: Mitch Novick

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