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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2018 Craft Spirits Fest now in its 6th year

The Craft Spirits Fest -Spirits & Cocktails, the largest exhibition of spirits and cocktails in Miami returns for its sixth year on October 12. The festival showcases and celebrates today’s resurgent spirits and cocktail culture. They also provide the opportunity for consumers to learn, interact and truly experience the spirit of the industry.  

The week-long celebration will peak at the Cruz Building in Coconut Grove, the preceding days are packed with bartender competitions, happy hours and more.  

Here’s a look at what's on tap for Craft Spirits Fest Week 2018:

Monday, October

BareKnuckle Bartender at Mama Tried (201 NE 1st Avenue) at 8 pm.  

Watch Miami bartenders compete to make their best cocktails to earn the coveted title of BareKnuckle Bartender Champ. Free and open to the public. 

Wednesday, October 11

Women, Whiskey & Wieners at The Mighty (2224 Coral Way) 6 - 9 pm. 

In honor of the Breast Cancer Awareness month, they feature the finest women in the spirits industry representing amazing whiskies and cocktails. Open to the public. 

Friday, October 12

CSF: Spirits & Cocktails 2018 at The Cruz Building (3157 Commodore Plaza) 6:30 - 10:30 pm

This event brings together 30+ spirit producers from across the country/world for a comprehensive, large-scale tasting event. Over 120 different spirits and cocktails will be available to sample. Food samples from local restaurants, Prohibition Era Live Jazz and a rooftop cigar lounge. Tickets start at $75 and are extremely limited. 

Tickets available at: CSF2018.eventbrite.com

Friday, October 12-13

CSF Beer Chaser at Taurus: Beer & Whisk(e)y House (3524 Main Hwy) 10 pm - 2 am. 

Any great Party needs a great “After Party."  After imbibing all those great spirits and cocktails, nothing is better than a nice cold brew. Attendees of the CSF receive a complimentary brew plus other food and drink specials throughout the night! Special late night menu at Ariete by Chef Michael Beltran.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Looks like the booters are gone

Good news. The car booters are gone. For now anyway.

The city is trying to work out a new plan with them and hopefully they never return.

The parking lot behind Florentine Plaza, on Fuller and Grand, now has an attendant and it's monitored now and sneaky booters can't get in there and boot people. Southpark Management runs the lot now. Nicole Singletary, BID director, tells me that the BID got involved and helped make this happen.


Also, the booters are gone from the lot near the 24 Hour Gym on Grand Avenue.

Also, some good news about the Optimum Development office building going up next to Greenstreet. One traffic lane had been closed for a few weeks due to construction. It's open now. It could possibly close if inspections don't pass, but for now, drive freely on Main Highway.

I'm not sure what the rates for that lot is, but the Florentine Plaza lot charges these rates seen here. They're a bit more than street parking, but much less than the flat $10 rate that was previously the rule in the lot, whether you parked for one minute or an hour or more.



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Monday, September 17, 2018

Village Council meets Friday

The Coconut Grove Village Council is holding its next meeting on Friday, Sept. 21, at 6:30 p, at Miami City Hall (3500 Pan American Drive).

To view the Sept. 21 agenda, click here. The meeting will also be live streamed from their Facebook page.

Village Council meetings for the remainder of 2018

Please note that most but not all meetings will be on Mondays. In two cases they will meet on Friday. We will make every effort to secure Monday meeting dates for all of 2019 and thereafter.

October: Monday, Oct. 29
November: Monday, Nov. 19
December: Friday, Dec. 14

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What's going on with the destroyed docks?

Nice picture, huh? Well not for the many people who are still waiting for the docks at Dinner Key Marina to be repaired. They are still in bad shape after last September's Hurricane Irma.

The city finally met with their insurer along with FEMA officials last week. They now know that the City of Miami has $8.9 million in insurance claim money for repairs.

The estimated hurricane related repairs are $10.3 million.

The city's Director of Capital Improvements tells me that the estimated non-hurricane related repairs (primarily utility repairs required before the storm) are $3.2 million.

Taking into consideration design and other general and administrative costs, the total repair is $15 million.

I've been told, "We are working with FEMA to identify what they will cover of the difference between the $10.3 million and $8.9 million."

The city is also working with FEMA to determine if they will cover any future mitigation costs above the $15 million. In other words, if there are ways to build the marina to better protect against future storms, what and how much will FEMA cover?

The city intends to proceed with a design-build for the marina repairs. "We are setting up an Industry Day in a few weeks to attract marina construction firms to present their interest, capabilities and experience," says the Capital Improvements director.

A month or so after that the city will release a design-build RFP.

People are still paying for their dock space and the city is receiving business interruption insurance for those that are not usable. Another of the complex insurance issues is how long and for how much will that insurance cover?


Most boats are still there, some are either at other locations or no longer have a need for a slip.  As construction begins, it will be done in phases in order to try to keep as many boats at the marina at a time.  In the end, they will do their best to ensure people get the slips they have historically had, but, no promises.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Join The Barnacle for Make A Difference Day

Take a day to enjoy the great outdoors and give back to the community. On Saturday, October 27 join The Barnacle's Park Rangers from 9 am to noon for a morning of coastal cleanup, landscape beautification, and exotic plant removal on Make a Difference Day. 

The park will provide free same-day park admission, lunch, and a tour of the house museum for registered volunteers. 

Space is limited and pre-registration required. To register, please call 305-442-6866
or email Jessica.Cabral@dep.state.fl.us.

Minors require parental consent, and volunteers ages 14 and under must be accompanied by a participating adult. 

Participants must wear closed-toe shoes. Long pants and sleeves, sun protection, and a water bottle are strongly recommended. No pets while volunteering, please.

The Barnacle Historic State Park is located at 3485 Main Highway. 

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

An evening with Senator Bob Graham

This is another fun memory from the Bookstore in the Grove. This first ran on Dec. 10, 2011.


Senator Bob Graham drew a large crowd on Friday night for the signing of his new book, "Keys to the Kingdom," a 314-page political thriller. The scene was The Bookstore in the Grove.

Many friends were among the throng who listened intently as Sen. Graham talked about his new release. Graham is very well known around these parts, he served for 18 years in the U.S. Senate and before that was a two-term Governor of Florida. 


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I always think of him as Governor and the evening sort of came full circle for me. In the 1980s my job was to do the production work for newspapers and magazines, I literally put them together. One of the publications had a letter from Gov. Graham at the time and we published the letter in the newspaper. But when it was time to give back the letter to the publisher, I kept it. I figured in my head that Gov. Graham would be President of the U.S. one day and that I would have his signature.

Of course, that never happened, but he did leave the Senate with an 83% approval rating, so you can't beat that, I guess. I told him my story as he signed my book, he laughed. And now that I have the signed book, the whole signature thing has come full circle, I now have the two signatures, one from the 1980s and one in the new book.

Above right is Mrs. Adele Graham, the Senator's wife, who I spent a bit of time talking with, and Felice Dubin, co-owner of The Bookstore. Mrs. Graham is very easy to talk with. I enjoyed our conversation, we were taking about Coconut Grove. The Graham's always remind me of Arva Moore Parks, who they went to school with and it was Arva who persuaded Gov. Graham to save The Barnacle from destruction and becoming grounds for a condo, back in 1977.

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The evening reminded me of that time when Arva signed her book about Coconut Grove in October of last year. It was a full house and so much history was talked about both evenings. When Arva was here, it was mostly Grovites, but Friday night, for Sen. Graham's book, there were more out-of-towners. Mrs. Graham told me that the Grove crowd had more intellectuals than most of the others in their book tour. She could tell by the questions that were being asked. It did get quite intense as there is so much information about the middle east and the 9/11 attacks in the book.

Above left are Felice Dubin, Harry Emilio Gottlieb and Sen. Graham; at right, yours truly with the Senator. Harry put the whole evening together and introduced the Senator at the beginning of the evening.

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"Keys to the Kingdom," features a former Senator named John Billington, who is murdered near his Florida home. Ex-Special Forces operative Tony Ramos then enters the scene to solve the crime with Billington's daughter, Laura. The thriller revolves around the 9/11 attacks and revolves around Saudi Kingdom conspiracies including the likes of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It was quite chilling at times to hear Sen. Graham speak on the subject since he is privy to so much information, he still works on committees with the CIA, even in his retirement.
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It was a great evening, the goodies passed around were delicious, too. People were honored to meet Sen. Graham. He's very humble and easy to speak with. There was a long line to get the books signed and it seemed like forever for it to move because Sen. Graham actually took so much time out to speak with each person. He signed each book personally, for each person.
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You can see mine here, he writes, "Tom, Thank you for preserving this evening at The Bookstore in the Grove. Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and New Year." And he signed and dated it. He knew I was covering the event for publication, so he mentioned "preserving it."

That reminds me of the time that Susie Essman was at The Bookstore signing books. She wrote in mine, "Tom, stay focused," and I wondered, "How did she know me that well? People always tell me that I am too hyper and all over the place, but I am focused, but maybe she sees me as being unfocused." When I asked her about it she said, "Aren't you a photographer? That's what I meant!" That was funny and a good night, too.

There are extra books signed by Sen. Graham and if you get to The Bookstore (3399 Virginia Street) now, you can probably get one, the book would make a great holiday gift.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Dan Leslie Bowden

Dan Bowden
Photo courtesy
Ransom Everglades
Former Ransom-Everglades English teacher and Grove resident Dan Leslie Bowden, passed away Friday at age 89 after a long illness. Many Grove residents would attend Dan's annual reading of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," because he was such a colorful, entertaining speaker. He was the heart and soul of Ransom Everglades school. 

I didn't know Mr. Bowden, but I would see him at Starbucks so many times over the years. He seemed to know everyone who came in, so many of them were his students and former students.

Ransom is planning a memorial.

Channel 10 has a nice write-up here.

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Daybreaker MIA presents Groovy Grove

They're dancing on a little piece of history. Join Daybreaker MIA for Groovy Grove at The Barnacle for an unforgettable morning.

​On Saturday, September 29, meet in the heart of Coconut Grove for a 1960s shindig. You’ll inhale nature and exhale magic. Lizzy Chiappy of Casa Vinyasa will kick off the morning with a connective yoga flow, and in true Daybreaker spirit they’ve got mischief aplenty up their groovy sleeves.

Being in nature is a natural mental health booster. Early morning light and fresh air impact our endocrine system by releasing hormones that give our brains the happy feels. 

Each ticket will include a copy of the community book, BELONG ($20 value) BELONG was written by Daybreaker Mama Bear, Radha Agrawal. In this book she shares all the Daybreaker secrets for how they created their dream community (that’s YOU!) and how you can do it too.

Yoga is from 10 am to 11 am and then from 11 am to 1 pm, it's party time featuring Dude Skywalker, yoga tunes and  guest set by EQ.

Tickets are here: https://www.daybreaker.com/event/september-29/

Promo code “coconutgroove” can be used for a 20% discount

The Barnacle is located at 3485 Main Highway.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Drum Circle is back Saturday night

The Coconut Grove Drum Circle is back Saturday night. On September 15, from 7 to 10 pm, join the group outside the Barnacle entrance at 3485 Main Highway.

Bring your drums, bring your seats, bring your good vibes. If you don't have drums, you can share the ones that are there!

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Scooters pass first step in approval process

The City of Miami Commission took a first step in approving a one-year motorized scooter pilot program for District 2 on Thursday. Coconut Grove is part of the district, along with Downtown Miami and Brickell. The ordinance, co-sponsored by District 2 Commissioner Vice Chairman Ken Russell and Mayor Francis Suarez, passed on First Reading. It will be scheduled for Second Reading at a later date.

The scooters had appeared on the streets in June and were removed just as fast due to lack of regulations.


“Today’s decision is an important step towards providing a safe and efficient transportation alternative for our residents,” said Mayor Francis Suarez. “As a forward-thinking city, I am encouraged by the Commission’s willingness to embrace an innovative solution to one of our most pressing issues – traffic and congestion. I look forward to this item passing on second reading, so we can prioritize safety as we work to roll out this first and last mile transit solution." 

"I'm in favor of many approaches to solving our traffic issues, particularly those that help fill the 'last-mile' gaps between neighborhoods and public transit," said Commissioner Russell. "This legislation allows scooters to operate under government regulation. It's a pilot program in my district and I'm excited to test this transit solution." 

The ordinance passed unanimously. Per the ordinance, the proposed pilot program will automatically terminate on October 31, 2019.

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Will the city raise parking rates?

The City Commission will be discussing whether to raise parking rates for metered parking at today (Thursday's) meeting. The Miami Parking Authority has proposed raising city meter parking in many areas of the city by as much as $1.50 more per hour.

The reasoning for this is that the city needs more money. Let that sink in. The hog of a city, which permits  building on top of building so they can get more taxes, now needs more money from people parking.

The interesting thing about this is that the MPA has proposed to double the parking officers (meter maids) in order to enforce the parking. So in essence, the money raised will go to the enforcers. 

The city claims that the brunt of the people paying the new rates would be people driving into the city for work, from other municipalities in Miami-Dade County. So let's punish those who come to the City of Miami to work.

Maybe the city can build more garages and sell them to developers for top dollar as they did the Oak Street Garage, this way alleviating drivers from paying higher parking fees.

Just another lack of quality of life issue in the City of Miami.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hundreds came out in support of Grove Playhouse

On April 2, 2012, we had a "Give it Back" event for the Playhouse. It's now six and a half years later and it's still in limbo. It was closed six years when the Take it Back event happened

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It was estimated that 500 people showed up late Monday afternoon for the "Give It Back" rally, in support of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. After six years of being shuttered, the villagers of Coconut Grove feel that enough is enough and they demand that the Playhouse reopen in some way, shape or form. Local politicians, actor, Andy Garcia and so many neighbors showed up in support of the campaign.

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A large yellow ribbon came out at the end of the rally and the playhouse was literally wrapped in the yellow. Cheerleaders from a local school lead the hundreds in cheers and children did their part, for instance, brothers Lucas and Marcus Perra, sang "God Bless America," on the temporary stage set up in the back parking lot of the Playhouse.

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Nathan Kurland, leader of the crusade, spoke and then emceed the few speakers who spoke for a few minutes each.

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Miami historian, Arva Moore Parks spoke on the behalf of the playhouse through the history that she knows. She spoke of various people who were there at the beginning. One, named Estelle Overstreet, a Grove pioneer, born in 1909, claims that fresh water sand was used to build the old 1927 building and apparently fresh water sand is very sound. In Arva's words, the building is "salvageable." She said, "The theater needs to be restored, the theater needs to be opened. Give it back!"

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David Collins, BID director said that right after the Playhouse closed, 11 restaurants in the area, closed right away, and some in the audience snickered and said coincidentally, the 3 am bar closing time came into affect, too. But no matter, you can't deny that the Playhouse as a large economic engine for the Grove. In fact, yesterday's rally was proof. Right after the rally, all the restaurants and bars in the vacinity were mobbed with people from the rally having dinner and drinks (I had the lobster at Calamari). So the economic engine was thriving last night due to the Playhouse.

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Earlier in the day, a letter went out by Clay Smallwood, Director of Division of State Lands, requesting that County Mayor Carlos Giminez turn over the Playhouse to the Board of Trustees. More on that later. In the meantime, the partying went on into the night. The big yellow ribbon first was marched down toward Greenstreets at Main Highway and Commodore Plaza, the crowd turned up Commodore and went around the block, back into the Playhouse parking lot to end the rally.

Lots more pictures of today's events here on Facebook.

Latest Playhouse News: Waivers discussed; state to seize playhouse?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Miami remembers 9/11

On this September 11, dozens of City of Miami employees gathered in front of Miami City Hall to honor and remember the victims of the terror attacks 17 years ago, on September 11, 2001. The joint Miami Fire-Rescue and Miami Police 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony included an Honor Guard, prayer, alarm office announcement, a moment of silence, and remarks by Mayor Francis Suarez who was accompanied by Commissioner Ken Russell as shown above.





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All wrapped up

Florentine Plaza is wrapped up and tented for the week. The stores will be open Thursday and some on Friday this week.




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Monday, September 10, 2018

All-Grove Crime Watch meets Wednesday

All-Grove Crime Watch meets Wednesday, September 12 at 7 pm at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. 

If you have any crime-related issues, this is the forum to get them in front of Commander Butler and Neighborhood Resource Officers. 

The meetings are open to all residents and topics of discussion are presented by the Miami Police Department, an Assistant State Attorney from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office; a representative from the Grove's BID, (Business Improvement District); and, a representative from the District 2 commissioner's office.

Parking is free, please let the attendant know you are there for the meeting, which is in the rear of the church.

St. Stephen's is at 2750 McFarlane Road.

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The dock at Peacock Park

The little boardwalk at Peacock Park is still in bad shape due to Hurricane Irma, a year ago.

Steven Williamson, Director of Capital Improvements says, "Please rest assured the City has not ignored this project. The Hurricane Irma repair projects have been especially difficult. The Office of Capital Improvements has been working diligently with FEMA for the appropriate reimbursement process. Now that we have worked through that, we are ready to move forward."

The design for the replacement of the deck is 100% complete. Currently, the project is under the bidding phase with a bid close date of September 27, 2018. Once the contractor is selected and all conditions are met, they expect to begin construction in October.

Another concern by boaters are the docks at Dinner Key. More info to come on them.




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