What a difference a few weeks make: Most of the 13 Lincoln Road operators given suspensions last month for allegedly putting out too many tables and chairs at Halloween have had their violations dismissed and the rest are still pursuing their appeals.
Three weeks ago, Miami Beach city officials hailed a crackdown on scofflaw Lincoln Road restaurants and cafes clogging up the pedestrian mall with sidewalk tables as a resounding success.
During a staff report at the Jan. 11 city commission meeting, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales noted 13 Lincoln Road operators had been held accountable for thumbing their noses at city warnings and would face 20 day suspensions of their outdoor permits.
“We often get criticized about why we pass a rule if it won’t be enforced,” Morales said. “Hopefully, our message has been sent.”
Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman said violators had learned their lesson. “All operators should be on notice that it is in their best interest to follow instructions in advance,” she said. “The businesses should know that we are serious about enforcing the rules.”
However, the city’s plan to punish the 13 operators that allegedly put out too many sidewalk tables and chairs on Halloween night, the busiest evening on Lincoln Road, was largely a dud. After throwing out suspensions issued to five restaurants and cafes on Jan. 4, Miami Beach special master MaryAnne Lukacs has since dismissed violation orders issued to Caminetta at 607 Lincoln Road; Aura at 613 Lincoln Road; Sibilla at 833 Lincoln Road; 938 Lincoln Road; and Quattro at 1014 Lincoln Road.
On March 9, the special master will hear pending appeals from the owners of Yuca at 501 Lincoln Road and Segafredo l’Originale at 1040 Lincoln Road. Only the operators of Pizza Rustica at 667 Lincoln Road had lost their appeal and were facing the 20-day suspension order. However, the owners have requested a rehearing that has also been scheduled for March 9, according to the Miami Beach City Clerk’s office.
During the Jan. 4 meeting, representatives for the 13 operators argued city officials failed to document the alleged violations. For instance, Alfredo Gonzalez, a lobbyist for Quattro, said the restaurant managers were constantly in contact with code enforcement personnel that told them their seating arrangement had to be changed, but never said they had violated their outdoor table permit.
“Code enforcement came by several times, but issued no warnings,” Gonzalez said. “There is no record of photographs or that [the alleged violation] was brought to the attention of anyone at the restaurant.”