Last-minute city order shuts down Miami bars that serve food

Ready to reopen, business owners and their employees put on hold

Miami bars that serve food caught in the crosshairs of reopening decisions
Miami bars that serve food caught in the crosshairs of reopening decisions

MIAMI, Fla. – There’s a bar battle that continues to brew in Miami. Restaurants were allowed to open Wednesday, but some bars that serve food were shocked to find out they couldn’t reopen after calling back all of their employees, ordering supplies, including food, and making changes to their businesses to comply with the new normal.

Sasha Torres of Bar Nancy said he had a whole menu ready to go. John Wakefield of Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood said he was ready to open his establishment. Bill Fuller of Ball and Chain in Little Havana said he wants the city to answer to his employees.

They are the voices of Miami establishments who said they felt blindsided when a city task force told them they would not be able to open for on-site dining Wednesday with the restaurants in the county because bars are still closed. But these three establishments and others like them also serve food.

"We were under the impression that we were going to be opening," Torres said. For Wakefield, it was like a punch in the gut. "We 've been struggling and this was kind of like a breath of fresh air."

They are caught in the middle of an amended city order and now they are wondering how much longer they can hold on.

On Tuesday, Miami City Manager Arthur Noriega V amended an order to further define food establishments – boxing out taverns, bars, pubs and breweries among other non-traditional food establishments from opening to on-site dining.

"The city itself is making the call that we're just like a bar or a nightclub, but we're not," Wakefield said.

Over the phone, Noriega said that Miami is choosing to be vigilant and disciplined on how they manage the rollout to keep case numbers down to prevent a resurgence.

"Thirty members of this staff were electric, excited and ready to open. These are people that have been sidelined for two months and haven't been able to work," Fuller said.

The owners of some of these establishments are concerned about what they said they have seen as inequitable enforcement of the amended order.

A block away from Wakefield Brewing, we found Veza Sur Brewing open. They were not interested in speaking with Local 10. When did receive a statement from a spokesperson from the Brewers Collective, Anheuser-Busch that read: “We will not be providing a statement at this time. Veza Sur will share any reopening related announcements on their website.”

In Coconut Grove, Bobby Gilardi at Taurus Beer, said he was first told to close, then the city said the business could operate on-site dining but not inside, only outside.

"Some guidelines would have been helpful," Gilardi said.

The city is assuring that they will check in on all 120 businesses impacted to ensure there is equitable enforcement. The city told us that after the video was shot, a compliance task force visited the site to enforce compliance.

The timetable of the next phase of re-opening, which will include these businesses, remains to be determined depending on case numbers.

We reached out to the Florida department of Business and Professional Regulation who sent us the State Rules of the Executive Order for reopening.

“Breweries that operate with food on-premise, following all requirements in Executive Order 20-123 may serve alcohol as long as they adhere to social distancing and mandatory measures for restaurants and food establishments. They must also provide table seating while bar counters are ordered to remain closed to seating and congregating at bars is not permitted.

Additional information and guidance related to restaurants and food establishments here: Restaurants – Mandatory Measures and Best Practices and Restaurants – FAQs re: Executive Order 20-123.” .

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