Popular Las Olas restaurant closes after re-opening for only two days

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Photos tell the story of why a popular spot in South Florida reopened on Friday but, by Sunday it closed.

Mostly maskless people packed in at The Wharf at 20 West Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale for its reopening.

The outdoor dining, drinking and music establishment had plenty of people standing and seated shoulder to shoulder this weekend – social distancing and mask use were all absent amid the excessively large crowd.

On Saturday, Broward County code enforcement officers visited the establishment three times.

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said owners need to be responsible for what is going on inside their establishments.

“If they are unable to control the conduct of their patrons, unfortunately, we will have to shut them down,” Geller said.

Local 10 learned that the owners of The Wharf were cited and ordered to be shutdown for 24 hours, but on Sunday, the business went a step further announcing an extended temporary shutdown.

On social media, The Wharf said they were closing because of a spike in cases and local regulations.

“We will reopen when we are able to provide the proper experience for you at our beautiful outdoor venue. Stay safe and stay tuned.”

Nightlife in Fort Lauderdale has been heavily scrutinized during the pandemic. Some business owners are enforcing county rules while others are taking a back seat.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to loosen most coronavirus restrictions complicates enforcement. On Fort Lauderdale Beach this weekend, the annual air show drew crowds and while signs posted said masks were required some people didn’t follow the direction.

Following the shows over two days, bars along Fort Lauderdale’s A1A were packed, too.

Republican Congressman Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL) appeared on Local 10′s “This Week In South Florida” Sunday and said that a nationwide federally supported mask mandate won’t get his support.

“I think a national mask mandate would be kind of absurd, because there are huge differences in different areas. I wear my mask as much as I can and I think it makes sense to do so, it’s an ounce of prevention,” he said.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.