Restaurant’s flag mural causing a flap with the city of Miami

A restaurant owner says he cannot believe that the City of Miami has restarted a fight over two murals painted on his building and, in the midst of a pandemic.

MIAMI, Fla. – If you have been in the Modern Art District in Miami on Biscayne near 69th Street, you can’t miss the massive Puerto Rican flag on the side of a restaurant building.

The city has informed the restaurant owner that it needs to be taken down Feb.16, but the owners are wondering “Why now?”

“We’ve gone through a lot this year. Everybody knows that and I think it is super unfair for us to have to deal with this now,” Chef Jose Mendin of La Placita said.

Mendin said he cannot believe that the City of Miami has chosen now to restart a fight over two murals painted on his restaurant.

“The reasoning is because the MIMO district doesn’t allow for murals. But when we did this flag, and it cost a lot of money to do this flag, we had a permit. They made a mistake and they want us to fix it,” said Mendin.

Just about a year ago, the city of Miami decided that while the murals do violate city code that they would allow them to remain up until another mural at a nearby restaurant came down.

In January 2020, the Miami City Commission state: “The commission finds that the murals on the property are in violation of the city code; however, the murals may be maintained on the property until such time as the mural on the property located at 7010 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida (operating as Organic Bites) is removed.”

Because of the pandemic, that other restaurant has closed and the mural has been removed. The city maintains that the requirement for La Placita should now be enforced.

On Monday, the city sent a letter to the restaurant, which stated that they had to have the fix done by Feb. 16 or face fines of up to $200 per day.

Mendin said that while he understands the requirement, he still does not understand why the city finds the need to enforce it right now.

”We don’t want to deal with this right now. This is not the moment. We are going through a pandemic. This is completely unnecessary.”

Mendin said they are going to fight the city to keep the mural, but the city again states that they have until the 16th to fix it before they start getting fined.

“It’s just something that’s become very, very beautiful on this side of town. People are taking pictures with it all of the time, people are bringing their friends to the restaurant to experience the Puerto Rican culture,” Mendin said.

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local