Miami restaurant owners asking ‘Why us?’ amid latest indoor closures

Group plans solidarity gathering Friday and invites community

MIAMI, Fla. – Miami-Dade County restaurants are bracing for yet another hit. As of midnight Wednesday, only outdoor dining will be allowed and it is all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 because of a surge of numbers.

So many restaurant owners are worried about staying in business and many are wondering, “Why us?”

With only a few hours left until they will have to close their indoor spaces, many restaurant owners are scrambling. They are hauling out fans and tents to try to figure out how to make dining outside in the middle of summer in Miami viable.

Michael Stewart, owner of KYU in Wynwood, was trying to find some bright spot.

“We are losing less money than we would if we had to close,” he said.

Expanding outside, if possible, is one effort to save Miami-Dade County’s lifeblood – it’s hospitality businesses who are collateral damage of the latest explosion of COVID-19 cases.

“We spent a lot of time energy and money installing the things we needed to install to make it COVID compliant.” Stewart is one of hundreds who wrote to Mayor Carlos Gimenez pleading for him not to re-close Miami-Dade’s restaurant industry that spent a collective millions reworking livelihoods to comply with COVID-19 safety mandates.

“If they come in and they see that you have every single thing per the new normal guidelines, then you should be allowed to continue to operate.”

Gimenez’s latest executive order includes entertainment venues, home rentals less than a month, and inside eateries — all in an effort to stop people sharing airspace.

Gyms were on the list until an outcry and a compromise for “all masks, all the time” allowed a last-minute reprieve.

Ani Meinhold, owner of Phuc Yea, said what’s bothersome to her is that she hasn’t seen any data evidence to support that restaurants should be restricted from indoor dining if they are following the proper protocols.

“They haven’t shared anything and that’s the problem,” Meinhold said.

Meinhold spent the day on WhatsApp with hundreds of other restaurateurs organizing a response to the blindsiding re-closure.

The community is invited to stand with them Friday at 11 a.m. near the American Airlines Arena on Biscayne Boulevard.

“What we’re trying to do really is say, ‘How could you this to us? ‘And, if you’re going to do that to restaurants, at least you have to give us what the thought process is that’s behind it. Give us the data, give us the facts. Give us a strategy, ' ” Meinhold said.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."