Midnight spring break curfew hurts South Beach businesses

As the lights came on and workers began stacking chairs inside Mango’s Tropical Cafe at midnight Friday, waiter Yubeisy Deleon said the city’s new curfew in South Beach was not returning only tourists home earlier.

Deleon, an employee of the Ocean Drive club for 15 years, said she would also quit her job early, without the roughly $500 she said she usually earns on a Friday night in March. She typically works until 4:30 a.m. and relies on the early hours of her shift to earn tips through bottle service.

“Our controls are going to be light,” Deleon said in Spanish. “We won’t have enough money to pay our bills.”

Festive music along Ocean Drive was replaced by stern police warnings broadcast over loudspeakers, asking guests to go home. The overflowing crowds of a week ago, when police were forced to briefly close Ocean Drive to traffic, were much thinner on Friday.

A group of TikTok dancers provided some of the only entertainment of the night, filming group dance videos in front of crowds of onlookers on Eighth Street and Ocean Drive – that is, before a group of police ask them to turn off their boombox.

But just because businesses were closing early in South Beach didn’t mean tourists were calling it a night.

READ MORE: ‘We don’t mind doing business with Miami Beach. Miami celebrates as SoBe curfew kills buzz

Al Tavano, 22, of Montreal, treated an oversized rum runner at a sidewalk cafe table as curfew approached. He had just learned of it an hour earlier and had quickly planned to go to Wynwood. He said he understands why the city imposed the curfew after two back-to-back shootings last weekend injured five people.

“It sucks, but it was crazy last week,” he said.

MIA_Spring_Break_Curfew_MJO (11)
People exit Ocean Drive near Mango’s Tropical Cafe as police impose a midnight curfew in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, March 25, 2022. City officials imposed a midnight curfew and forced stores to stop selling alcohol after 6 p.m. The restrictions were put in place after two shootings in Miami Beach the previous weekend prompted city officials to announce a “state of emergency”. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

Sipping vodka and lemonade from Tito as police told him to clear the street, 35-year-old Las Vegas tourist Adrian Valadez said he would celebrate his birthday at the Fountainbleau. He asked an officer which street he should walk down to wait for an Uber and strolled along the sidewalk with his drink in his hand. He, too, said it was reasonable to stop the party to avoid further violence, but that he would spend his money elsewhere.

“LIV never loses,” Valadez said, referring to the nightclub at the Mid Beach Hotel, well north of South Beach’s curfew zone.

A 22-year-old tourist from Baltimore, named Khala H., said she hoped to bask in spring break early in the morning. Instead, she planned to visit a strip club or nightclub outside of Miami Beach. She was between King of Diamonds, G5ive and Taboo.

“South Beach isn’t the only thing open, I can go somewhere else,” she said. “It sucks for the companies that are here because they won’t get the money.”

MIA_Spring_Break_Curfew_MJO (12)
Police officers patrol near the Clevelander in Miami Beach, Fla. Friday, March 25, 2022. City officials imposed a midnight curfew and forced stores to stop selling alcohol after 6 p.m. The restrictions were put in place after two shootings in Miami Beach the previous weekend. prompted the municipal authorities to announce a “state of emergency”. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

A judge upheld the city’s curfew on Friday after two South Beach businesses, Papi Steak restaurant and Treehouse nightclub, filed suit to overturn it.

READ MORE: Judge backs Miami Beach midnight curfew during spring break, dismissing legal challenges

In an opinion op-ed on Friday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said he understands imposing a curfew would hurt people’s livelihoods, but it was a last resort. the city to deal with “unprecedented” gun violence in South Beach.

“It can hurt businesses and obviously it’s an imposition on people’s freedom,” he said. “But we can’t balance lost revenue or, frankly, anything against our obligation to keep people safe.”

Hours before the midnight curfew went into effect, Rick Silverberg was forced to close his liquor store in the upscale South Fifth district at 6 p.m. as part of the city’s emergency order. town. Outside of the winter holiday season, March is its biggest selling month of the year. And the hours between 6 and 10 p.m. are the busiest for most liquor stores, as people leave work and get ready for the evening.

MIA_Spring_Break_Curfew_MJO (2)
A sign advising customers they have until 6 p.m. to buy alcohol is displayed at a small convenience store near Washington Avenue and 12th Street in Miami Beach, Florida, Friday, March 25, 2022. Officials in the city imposed a midnight curfew and forced stores to stop selling alcohol after 6 p.m. The restrictions were put in place after two shootings in Miami Beach the previous weekend caused city officials to announce a ‘state of emergency’. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

Located outside the entertainment district, the Portofino Wine Bank didn’t see crowds over spring break, Silverberg said. He said it was unfair for the city to choose to close liquor stores early, and he thinks businesses that are forced to close early should file a claim with the city to recover some of their lost revenue. .

He estimated it would cost around $30,000 in revenue over three days. That wouldn’t stop customers from ordering bottles of Miami city liquor through Uber Eats, he said.

“It’s extremely frustrating and makes no sense to me,” he said.

David Wallack, owner of Mango’s, said on Thursday that his club’s revenue was down 66% from 2019, most of which he said went to paying staff.

MIA_Spring_Break_Curfew_MJO (8)
A worker closes a store near Collins Avenue and 10th Street in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, March 25, 2022. City officials imposed a midnight curfew and forced stores to stop selling l alcohol after 6 p.m. The restrictions were put in place after two shootings in Miami Beach the previous weekend prompted city officials to announce a ‘state of emergency’. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

” I’m going to lose. Every owner is going to lose,” he said. “But the owners can handle that better than our staff.”

Wallack said he understands the city’s decision to impose a curfew, but he thinks next year there needs to be better preparation for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, which he says him, is generally a difficult week for the police. In addition to the midnight shutdown, he said, Ocean Drive felt “subdued” Friday night due to additional restrictions on parking and vehicle access to South Beach’s entertainment district.

“The horse left the stable a week ago and we missed it,” he said. “Now we have to pay the piper for making that mistake.”

This story was originally published March 26, 2022 7:39 a.m.

Martin Vassolo covers Miami Beach politics and government for the Miami Herald. He started working for the Herald in January 2018 after attending the University of Florida, where he served as editor of The Independent Florida Alligator. Previously, he was a general duty reporter at the Herald’s subway counter and a political reporting intern.

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