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Sunday, April 30, 2017

History and small towns and villages

November in Boston Common.

Glenn Terry wrote a beautiful story on small town New England in his blog, The Grove Guy. In the article, "In Praise of a Small Town," Glenn really gets to the crux the issue here in Coconut Grove. What was/is a small sailing and arts village is now turning into a mini metropolis (the Grove, not New England). 

I love New England, I am there often, I often threaten to move there or to Hoboken, NJ, but the cold winters deter me.  I did a story on Hoboken here. I love Cambridge, but I've been all over that area. They have an excellent commuter rail in New England and in a short period of time you can be anywhere. I am usually based in Boston or Cambridge and I've gone to Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and basically all over the colonies. The one thing they have in common is their smallness and quaintness. Last summer I saw a Melissa Etheridge concert in Westhampton, NY, in an old playhouse that has been restored.

This guy has rested here, undisturbed for over 330 years.

This November I am doing one of my favorite things - spending time in Boston/Cambridge and then taking the train down to New York for Thanksgiving. Riding the rails through the back woods of New England in the fall is a spectacular thing. If you hit it right, the leaves are red and yellow and the whole trip is amazing. I remember one year, there was a couple from Australia on the train and the guy kept jumping up and pointing to the New England scenery. He could not get over the postcard images - all very Norman Rockwell.


Paul Revere's house, built in 1680 is still there in the North  End of Boston, on cobble stoned streets. No condos there yet.

Original, undisturbed Boston.

This is a view from the train, country side somewhere in New England.

I am assuming most people who moved to Coconut Grove did so for the small community aspect and it's a shame that it is being built over.

I saw an article in Curbed New York called, "16 Small towns near NYC you need to visit right now." It's from last summer, but the towns of course have bee untouched and it all still rings true, which made me laugh because if this was a story on Coconut Grove from last summer, I daresay some of the things written about would be changed or completely gone. I've been to some of these places in the article. I always imagine what it would be like to live in Mystic, CT or Beacon, NY. Woodstock, NY, Rhinebeck, NY, the Birkshires, MA; all amazing small places.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Southern and soul food featured at Sunday brunch

Miami queen of Soul Food and celebrity chef Amaris Jones has launched a new Sunday brunch series at Spasso in Coconut Grove. The brunch features an array of Chef Jones’ famous southern, soul and Afro-Caribbean cuisine every Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

The soulful brunch spread includes her famous free-range fried chicken, fried catfish, creamy grits, jerk chicken, fresh pasta station, omelets, creole shrimp, spiced skirt steak, vegan options as well as an array of a la carte dishes. To complement brunch, guests can enjoy bottomless bellinis for $15 more as they enjoy live jazz and R&B music from local artists. Special guest chef dishes will also make an appearance on the menu, beginning with Chef Irie. 

The buffet is available for $35 per person and a la carte options start at $12 per person. 

Chef Amaris who launched South Street restaurant in 2012 and helped rap music artist Rick Ross lose over 80 pounds, has spent her lifetime honing the perfect iteration of the modern Soul Food concept based on family recipes. Her creative take on the traditional fried chicken, mac and cheese, and sweet potato pie helped build her private catering business with celebrities, athletes and VIPs. She has received praise from the likes of Martha Stewart, Lenny Kravitz and Lebron James.

For reservations, please contact 305.441.0219.

Spasso is at 3540 Main Highway.

Photo courtesy Dana Agency

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Friday, April 28, 2017

A shake and a burger

Vicky's House Milkshake Bar is part of LoKal on Commodore Plaza. Here's our story on Vicky's House done a month ago.

Here's the Golden Girls shake. Wonder how many calories that thing is? A friend brought up a funny thing to me, it's this high calorie shake at LoKal (low cal, get it)? My favorite thing at LoKal is the Classic burger with the lettuce leaves as the bun. It's light and delicious. Imagine washing it down with this!



I love how they do the lettuce for the bun thing. I have had it at other places, but they can't match the heftiness of the lettuce and the crispiness. It's perfect.

This shake her looks delish, but I would make one change. I would get rid of all that stuff on the top and just have the vanilla shake, but I would add some chocolate syrup and make it a chocolate shake, sort of Mr. Softee-style. I know these shakes are the thing now, you see them all over, but I just like it simple and smooth. But is that a Twinkie on the top? I might keep that part. 

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Join the Clarington Island Cleanup on Saturday

The Clarington Island Cleanup with the Biscayne Bay Foundation and Coconut Grove Sailing Club is Saturday, April 29 from 8:45 am until noon. The island is off short of the Sailing Club.

Registration begins at 8:45 am.

Please bring the signed waiver. Waiver can be found here.

Launch service to island will be available after registration and at 11:45.

Appropriate for children over 8 with adult supervision till age 14, please bring their life vest if they have one.  Older children do not need an adult, but must bring signed waiver.

Meeting spot is under the clubhouse inside the gate at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club (2990 S. Bayshore Drive). Wear closed toes shoes or water shoes and comfortable clothes (shoes and clothes) that you do not mind getting wet and dirty). Hats are highly recommended.

Please bring water in a reusable container (please don’t create more waste and bring plastic water bottles to clean up plastic water bottles!)  Additional water will be available for refill.

Four Community Service Hours will be provided for students actively participating in the cleanup.  Please be on time to collect your hours. When possible the letters will be given on site after the clean up, otherwise they will be e-mailed.

The Sailing Club and Biscayne Bay Foundation will provide:

Sunscreen, Mosquito spray, Water to replenish water bottles, Medical Grade Gloves in size medium.
Refreshments will be provided after cleanup, including beer provided by Biscayne Bay Brewing Company.

For more info, please contact Denise Schneider · deniseschneider.grove@yahoo.com · 305-725-2864

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Painted Peacock memories




That painted Peacock, left over from 2010's Coconut Grove Peacock Tour is in excellent shape after seven years. I remember the day it was placed there, I was part of the crew, you can see that day here, where we put a few around town in June 2010.  It's in front of the entrance at Milam's. There are others scattered around the Grove. One prominent one is the one done by Fred Hunt which is at one of the Sapient entrances at the Mayfair Promenade.

I remember the day that one arrived, the first of 40! I helped take it out of the box. I thought I had a picture of that, but I can't find it. And here is Fred starting to work on that one.

Eileen Seitz painted this peacock and she did one that was in front of Lulu's for quite awhile.

Here is the Peacock Premier party on the promenade in May 2010. I think the whole village came out for that.

Here is the Vernissage party in March 2010.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Preserving the whole Playhouse, not just part of it

A lot of people are questioning the County's plan for the "new" Coconut Grove Playhouse. I use the word "new" because that is what it is. In 2004, voters approved a bond issue of $20.5 million which would go to the renovation of the Playhouse building. I don't think voters would have approved the bond if they had known it would have meant knocking down most of the structure. People had hoped the money would save and repair the Playhouse.

The garage next door and the condo which is part of that structure and the office building(s) next do that, will make a wall of buildings on Main Highway. It seems as if the Playhouse renovation is an open call for development and residents are not happy.

As you know, two fellow Govites, Barbara Lange and Katrina Morris filed an appeal regarding the HEP Board's recent decision to allow the current plan to move forward. We posted the story first on Friday night, you can see it here. I asked the ladies about that.


I asked Barbara why they filed the appeal, "Katrina, like me, cares about preserving the uniqueness that is Coconut Grove. Whether it be a historic building such as the Playhouse, the tree canopy, or the large lots - they are all what makes Coconut Grove so special," Barbara said.

Regarding the Playhouse she says, According to experts, the interior of the Playhouse is just as important as the lobby and the facade. Once the main building of the Playhouseis demolished, it will be gone forever and cannot be replaced."

She questions as to why the HEP Board gave the green light to construct the garage and condos without seeing more design information other than several "three dimensional boxes," which is what was shown at the meeting on April 4.

"It is wrong and the decision to issue a COA needs to be overturned," says Barbara. She said, "I think the City of Miami Commission will have more of a vision than the County officials."

The ladies are like minded, Katrina says she agrees with Barbra on all of the above, "I will add that Barbara and I have known each other for years. We met each other walking or dogs in our neighborhood. We ran into each other at the April 4 meeting by coincidence, both of us caring about the Playhouse and the Grove," says Katrina.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Networking and lunch at Bombay Darbar

Bombay Darbar is now open for lunch on Wednesdays, along with Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 3 pm each day and they are open for dinner nightly, except Tuesdays, starting at 6 pm. Austin, Puja and Danny are ready to serve you.

Dine inside or out at their location on Florida Avenue. A lot of the new office workers in Coconut Grove have found Bombay Darbar and and it's a great spot to network during lunch. It's a nice atmosphere and there is always a crowd buzzing.

Bombay Darbar is 2901 Florida Avenue, you may call and make reservations at 305-444-7272 or just walk in.

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He's leaving, but not going far

10 With Tom 
10 questions in 10 minutes 


Manny Gonzalez,
BID Executive Director
Manny Gonzalez is leaving us. Manny is the Executive Director of the BID (Business Improvement District), he's had that position since 2012 and been with the BID since 2009, staring out as Project Coordinator. May 12 will be his last day here but he isn't going far; he is moving to Wynwood, where he will be the Executive Director of that BID. I asked Manny the 10 With Tom questions.

TOM: Hate to see you go, you are so much a part of the Grove. What do you think your favorite part of Coconut Grove is?

MANNY: As a father of three year old daughter my favorite aspect of Coconut Grove is the ability to come and enjoy the endless options of green space at either:  Peacock, Kennedy or Regatta Park, literally five minutes after work. The over-abundance of tree canopy and green space within 33133 is something we should not take for granted.

TOM: What do you feel your biggest accomplishment has been in these years? 

MANNY:  In my opinion I believe the purchase of the two trolleys for the City of Miami by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District in order to introduce the service to the western portion of the Grove is a prime example of how partnerships should work for the better of the community and the District. The subsequent approval by our friends at the City of Miami and Miami Dade County to connect to the 27th and 37th Avenue Metrorail and Coral Gables will be a game changer. 

TOM: What would you like to see happen to the Grove in the future? 

MANNY: The completion of the sidewalk improvement projects along Grand Avenue and Main Highway and solution to the Grand Avenue corridor.

TOM: There will only be six board members in Wynwood as opposed to 19 in Coconut Grove, how do you think you'll handle that?

MANNY: I think this is the model the Coconut Grove BID should pursue to some degree.  It allows members to conduct daily business operations, within their respective districts, without the threat of violating the sunshine law of the City of Miami.  Too many members, higher the risk.  Also easier to obtain consensus.

TOM: Wynwood is sort of the Wild West at this point, are you ready for that?

MANNY: 100% - yes.  I am extremely lucky to continue working with Commissioner Russell, Major Morales and a plethora of other City and Miami Dade County officials that I currently work with in Coconut Grove, thus it will be a seamless transition.  If it’s considered the Wild West, it’s by design, the ecosystem in Wynwood is healthy and like the Grove ascending.

TOM: Favorite thing about Wynwood?

MANNY: The overabundance of art and unique businesses and establishments that you cannot find anywhere else.

TOM: Favorite Grove restaurant?

MANNY: After 8 years in the Grove I have learned that this type of questions does not have a correct answer.  They are all my favorite restaurants.

TOM: Favorite Wynwood restaurant?

MANNY: They are all my favorite restaurant. 

TOM: Random question: You're in trouble, the last person you saw on tv is going to save you. Who is it?

MANNY: General Douglas MacArthur.  Big fan of American Heroes channel.

TOM: What's something you always wanted to do as a child but never got to do?

MANNY: Attend a major wrestling event, back when I thought it was real.

Thanks, Manny, I am sure you'll do a terrific job in Wynwood, as you have done here in the Grove.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Too many peacocks on your street?

 

A good use for all the peacocks in the Grove might be to breed them and eat the eggs.

You should keep one peacock for every four peahens you own. This will insure fertility and safety all around. If you keep too many males than there will be fights and chaos in the coop. If you keep too many hens then you can’t be sure that the one you want is fertile or not.

Rather than get rid of them as so many neighbors do, sending them down to the Redland to live, or worse, here is is information on breeding, hatching and raising peafowl.

The breeding season goes from March to August, so we are right in the middle of it. So maybe you can share some of your neighborhood peacocks and peahens with others and it will give friend and neighbors fresh eggs in the morning and you'll have less of them on your street without harming them.

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Women's Happy Hour at the Mayfair Hotel

Anne B. Freedman
The last Monday of every month is a time for women of all professional backgrounds to meet, network, share ideas, promote their businesses and learn from featured guest speakers at the Women's Happy Hour.

This month's speaker is Anne B. Freedman, founder and CEO of Speakout, Inc. Anne will be speaking on,       
"How to Avoid the Biggest Speaking Mistakes Now."

Don't let uncertainty about what to say interfere with your success any longer. In this fun, interactive and practical presentation, you’ll take away pointers to make your speaking opportunities more rewarding and less stressful – for your both your business and your nonprofit endeavors.

Anne is author of the new E-course and book, Public Speaking for the Genius, due out this summer with 14 "do-it-yourself" videos, a tip-filled book and step-by-step workbook. We are so fortunate to have her share her expertise with us and announce how she can help you be an effective public speaker. 

Women's Happy Hour is Monday, April 24 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at the Mayfair Hotel and Spa, 3000 Florida AVenue.

Enjoy Happy Hour half-price on drinks and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.



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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Do we need more distinguished branding?

Coconut Grove and Lemon City are two of the oldest communities in South Florida. With an influx of Haitians populating Lemon City there was recently an effort to have it renamed as Little Haiti.

Coconut Grove has also been going through a change with all the recent arrivals and perhaps its name will soon be changed to reflect its new identity for more distinguished branding.

Ideas for renaming Coconut Grove:
Little Brickell
South Brickell
Condo Grove
Concrete Grove
Dog Heaven
Baby Stroller
Pretentious and Pricy
Two Starbucks and Counting

Sent in by a friend
Coconut Grove

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day

"In the beginning God created the heavens and earth...Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land' ... God saw all that he had made and it was very good."

Let's try and keep the planet and our home Green.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

HEP Board's Playhouse decision being appealed

An appeal letter went out to the Hearing Board Department on Friday. The letter is regarding the recent Historic and Environmental Preservation Board's (HEPB) approval on April 4, of the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA).

The letter starts: "The HEP Board was required to postpone consideration of the application until the interior of the Playhouse was properly evaluated as whether it has historical significance. The staff recommendation that the 'Board does not have authority to consider interior' was incorrect."

At the April 4 meeting the Board voted to approve the COA even though others brought up the fact that the interior of the Playhouse is historic and can be saved. The current plan calls for demolition. The current plan calls for just the front section, while the rest will be rebuilt, not restored. Guided by Michael Spring, who runs the County's Cultural Affairs office, the front "winged area" on the corner of Main Highway and Charles Avenue is to be saved and the rest will be taken down. It's basically a partial renovation. 

Concerned neighbor, architect Richard Heisenbottle, explained at the April 4 meeting, along with experts brought in from the State, how the whole structure is historic, and could be saved. Apparently it fell on deaf ears and four out of five HEP Board members voted for the current plans to destroy most of the structure.

The appeal letter asks that the HEP Board's decision be overturned. The appeal says that the project goes against county code.

The letter is signed by Lowell J. Kuvin Esq., attorney for Barbara Lange and Katrina Morris, two Coconut Grove residents who are appealing the HEP Board decision. Residents were ignored at the April 4 meeting, not given enough time to speak and many, if not most, left incensed. This is the result.

Here is the letter in the dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mqsmjyuwchzfzdb/AAAcYxzZrNXyXt_NQun0o-nGa?dl=0

Here is our coverage of the April 4 HEP Board meeting.

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They are dropping "Coconut" from their name

The South Florida Business Journal is reporting that the Coconut Grove Bank is changing its name to Grove Bank and Trust to mark their 90th anniversary and their new headquarters building.

Another loss for Coconut Grove. They couldn't even make it to 100 years celebrating the Coconut Grove name. Not even calling it "The Grove Bank and Trust." The "The" sort of makes a difference.

Little by little, Coconut Grove gets chipped away, it's sad really, there's not much left of the Grove anymore, not even the name.

A few years back, people were up in arms over an advertising campaign calling Coconut Grove "The Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove." People insisted Coconut Grove was changing its name and that could not be tolerated. That slogan never bothered me, but after spending tens of thousands for the whole campaign, it never got off the ground because of outrage from residents and businesses. 

While that didn't bother me, I don't know why the bank sort of does. I understand why they are doing it, but it just doesn't feel right. Maybe it is just that we are losing so much around here that the name is important. I miss when the bank was a community thing, when they were quaint. They lost that when they sold their land and had mega structures built on the property. I miss the days of Food Truck Friday, when I felt Coconut Grove Bank was a real part of the community, slapping the establishment in the face in that regard. Coconut Grove's powers that be forbade food trucks, but the bank went rogue on that and we loved them for that.  Now I feel they would throw me off their property for loitering. 

Well at least they aren't calling themselves Brickell South Bank and Trust.

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Residents are fed up with over-development

It looks like Floridians are having enough of the greed over-crowding caused by over-development. 

We just had the Planning Board decline a zoning change on an apartment building on US1 and Virginia Street where the developer wanted to slip a hotel into the location and now in Palmetto Bay, plans were turned down 4-1 by their council to develop 300 apartments on US1.

From the Miami Herald: “I’m totally against this project and the over-trafficking of the neighborhood,” said Carol Vega. “This to me looks like a monstrosity. I don’t care how cute you make it sound. These projects never turn out that way.”

So nice to see some upstanding politicians. 

This over-sized project would add lots of traffic to the over-burdened US1 nad it is next to single family homes. 

There is another project that is to take over Old Cutler Road in that area, where the developer wants to install hotels and a shopping center, but it's been paired down to a few hundred homes. The pristine undeveloped land will be disturbed for no other reason other than greed.

Here is the Herald story on the Palmetto Bay project.

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