UPDATED Jan. 31 2:35 p.m. The music is back on at Bakehouse Brasserie in Miami Beach’s hip South-of-Fifth neighborhood.
Just over two weeks ago Bakehouse, at 808 First Street, was cited by the city of Miami Beach for having a jazz saxophonist play at it’s weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. They said the music violated an ordinance in the district that bans restaurants from playing anything but piano or stringed instruments “that does not interfere with normal conversation.”
Bakehouse sued, saying the ordinance “constitutes an unreasonable restraint on protected speech or other expression protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, including the production of reasonable sound.”
On Friday, Miami Beach city commissioners received a letter from city attorney Raul Aguila informing them that the city had reached a temporary agreement with Bakehouse, that the restaurant would waive its potential claim for damages and costs associated with litigation in exchange for allowing the jazz saxophonist to play during the Sunday brunch “at a level that does not interview with normal conversation.”
But in his letter, Aguila also told commissioners the city will fight attempts by Bakehouse to overturn the ordinance in court, saying the city had moved the case to federal court.
Bakehouse is the latest venture from Menin Hospitality led by Jared Galbut and Keith Menin, scion’s of two of Miami Beach’s leading real estate and hospitality industry families. Since it opened in November, the 87-seat restaurant has been a popular addition to Miami Beach’s South-of-Fifth neighborhood.
Attorney Ron Lowy of Lowy & Cook, who is representing Bakehouse, told The Real Deal that even though the city has reached a temporary agreement to allow jazz music to be played at Bakehouse, his clients feel their constitutional rights have been violated and they want the courts to ultimately decide the matter.
“Bakehouse may decide a month from now or three months from now that the saxophone player has been wonderful but they may choose to bring in a harmonica player, and we don’t want to have to start all over again,” said Lowy who added that there’s no reason why the lazz saxophonist can’t also play on Saturday.
“The city agreed to Sunday; they made no agreement as to any other day. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t perform on other days, it just mean that the city has acquiesced to Sunday and they will do what they think is right as far as Saturday is concerned and we will react accordingly,” he said.
Frank Del Vecchio, a resident of the area and a long time civic activist, is a strong critic of the agreement, calling it an attempt to “muzzle city commissioners and keep the public in the dark.”
“Since city commissioners basically have a gag order from the city attorney not to discuss what’s happened, they are not in a position to inform the public or express what’s happening and what they think about it,” Del Vecchio told TRD.
Del Vecchio also said that he also doesn’t think Bakehouse will prevail in the federal court system. “There is a whole succession of zoning cases which hold that districts can be zoned to zone out uses which are incompatible with the district, and in our case, since we have a predominantly residential district, the city has the power to prohibit entertainment.”