MIAMI – A giant mural of the Puerto Rican flag is at the center of debate in Miami. The restaurant owners technically had until Tuesday to get rid of the flag and another mural in the back, but the murals are still up, and now the owners could face fines of up to $200 per day.
“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,” Chef Jose Mendin, of La Placita, said. “I’m a chef. I’m not supposed to be here answering questions about flags and whatever it is. It’s just very frustrating for me.”
Mendin co-owns La Placita, which happens to be located in Miami’s Modern Art, or MiMo district.
About a year ago, when the building was painted with the massive Puerto Rican flag mural and a smaller mural in the back parking lot, the city of Miami told them they were breaking city code.
But a deal was reached and La Placita was allowed to keep their murals until another restaurant nearby brought their murals down.
Now, in 2021, that other restaurant is gone and so is that artwork, so the city says it’s time for La Placita’s to go, as well, and they gave the restaurant’s owners a deadline of Feb. 16 to remove them.
“The mural at Organic Bites was taken down, thus triggering the requirement for La Placita to remove their mural, which is also nonconforming,” a city spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the business that replaced Organic Bites has also put up an “illegal mural,” and the business has been cited by Code Compliance.
Mendin says while he understands what the deal was, he’s wondering why the city is choosing to enforce it right now.
“We’ve gone through a lot this year -- everybody knows that -- and I think it’s super unfair for us to have to deal with this now,” he said.
A representative from the city of Miami confirmed to Local 10 News that Tuesday is the deadline for the murals to be removed and said the owners may face daily fines until the artwork is gone.
Mendin said a representative from the restaurant would get back to Local 10 with an update on their plans.