Miami Beach Firestone on Alton Road to become 24-hour Al’s diner

Firestone at 1575 Alton Road
Firestone at 1575 Alton Road

Miami Beach residents could once again be filling up at the old Firestone service station on Alton Road – except instead of getting gas and new tires, they’ll be munching on gourmet treats.

Keith Menin

Keith Menin

The iconic building, which dominates the 1500 block of Alton Road, opened in 1939 and didn’t close as a garage until earlier this year. On Tuesday, the city’s design review board approved a series of variances that will allow for the facility to be converted into a mixed-use retail/restaurant development with outdoor café seating, a take-out window on 16th Street, and the installation of a “super graphic” on what is now a blank wall facing east.

The applicant, Crescent Heights affiliate ARRP Miami IV LLC, plans to fully restore the cantilevered porte-cochère and the Firestone roof sign that generations of Miami Beach residents have passed as they drove along Alton Road.

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The adaptive reuse of the building calls for subdividing the structure into three separate spaces for commercial tenants, opening up the northern wall along 16th Street with large windows and adding a new one-story addition to the building. Auto pull-up areas will be converted into outdoor café seating with extensive trellising.

Plans by the architecture firm Norberto Rosenstein also call for a take-out window on the 16th Street side of the building that will serve diners a wide variety of food. Keith Menin of Menin Hospitality will run the new restaurant, which he previously told The Real Deal will be called Al’s, set to open early next year.

Menin, which is currently working on more than 15 projects, recently took over managing the Mondrian South Beach, a Morgans hotel on the west side of Miami Beach. The company also runs Bodega Taqueria & Tequila, at 1220 16th Street, which opened across the street from the Firestone building in 2015, offering late-night tacos in the front and a speakeasy in the back. Menin also plans to open Ricky’s, a bar next to Bodega with live music and arcade games, in September, but he told board members no alcohol will be served at the takeout window and the facility will be “a fun culinary touch to the community.”

Board members expressed some concerns about overcrowding on the sidewalk in front of the proposed take-out window and called for a 90-day progress report once the new restaurant is opened to assess whether or not any action might need to be taken to alleviate potential overcrowding.