Emergency curfew in Miami Beach upends weekend for nightlife venues

City is forcing establishments to close at midnight, causing bars and nightclubs to cancel events, and liquor stores may not sell alcohol past 6 p.m.

Miami /
Mar.March 23, 2022 06:13 PM

Mango’s Cafe and The Clevelander (Google Maps)

A midnight curfew from Thursday through Sunday in Miami Beach is going to disrupt a busy weekend for some of the city’s famous nightlife properties, including Mango’s Tropical Cafe, The Clevelander Bar and Story nightclub.

For at least one owner of these venues, the curfew is another misguided, unwarranted action by city officials to curb Spring Break-fueled violence and mayhem in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Entertainment District.

“The curfew is to satisfy the hunger of the lynch mob and to throw a piece of meat at the tiger for [city commissioners] to say, ‘Look we are doing something,’” Mango’s owner David Wallack told The Real Deal. “It is a meaningless act. The horse already left the barn.”

In the wake of two shootings that injured five people, including a March 20 incident on the 800 block of Ocean Drive that created a stampede, the Miami Beach City Commission declared a state of emergency and approved the curfew on Tuesday.

The curfew is the latest cudgel Miami Beach leaders are wielding to stem party chaos in South Beach. Voters approved in November a non-binding ballot question rolling back alcohol sales from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. for the entire city.

The curfew is in effect for the entire South Beach area of the city, including the South of Fifth neighborhood. This means Mango’s at 900 Ocean Drive, The Clevelander at 1020 Ocean Drive, Story at 136 Collins Avenue and other nightlife venues must shut down at midnight instead of the usual 5 a.m. closing time.

(Map by Adam Farence)

Story’s management posted a message on the nightclub’s Instagram account that the venue will be temporarily closed this weekend and will be issuing customers full refunds. Story had booked celebrity DJs to play gigs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for Miami Music Week, an electronic music extravaganza, headlined by Ultra Music Festival in Miami, which takes place this weekend.

Alex Tachmes, a lawyer for The Clevelander, which is owned by Montreal-based Jesta Group, declined comment after initially telling TRD that his client would be providing a statement. “Sorry, our client has decided not to comment at this time,” Tachmes said.

David Grutman, the Miami-based hospitality mogul who co-owns Story with developer Jeff Soffer, did not respond to a voicemail and text message seeking comment.

The owners of The Clevelander and Story have pending lawsuits against the city that challenge Miami Beach commissioners’ approval of a temporary rollback of alcohol sales from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. during most of this month. On March 2, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko granted The Clevelander a temporary injunction blocking the city from implementing the 2 a.m. last call measure.

The current state of emergency allows Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak to implement the curfew, as well as a measure cutting off liquor store sales at 6 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday. According to a statement from a Miami Beach spokesperson, food and beverage establishments will only be allowed to do deliveries from midnight to 6 a.m. this weekend.

Hotels will be allowed to continue business operations beyond the curfew as long as the properties are only servicing hotel guests, who may be required to show proof of their stay if they return past 11:59 p.m., the statement said.

Wallack, who also owns the building that is home to Mango’s, said he is not sure how much the curfew will hurt tenants’ ability to pay rent this month. He leases a commercial space to a sunglass shop that typically stays open past midnight on weekends, Wallack said.

“If there are hard times because of the curfew, as a landlord I would have to make an accommodation as I did during Covid,” Wallack said. “We have to see what happens on the other side and how long this will go on.”

Nevertheless, Wallack said the curfew will have a severe impact on hospitality workers, including his employees. “A lot of them will be sent home and many will have no income” when the curfew is in effect, Wallack said. “It is a major income loss that runs downhill. It’s a loss for businesses, employees and the city.”

Wallack also said the curfew is pointless because the crowds arriving for Miami Music Week are much calmer than typical Spring Break crowds.

“It’s a better behaved crowd,” Wallack said. “I just hope no one uses that to say, ‘See I told you if we put a curfew in place, there would be no violence.’”





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