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Thursday, June 20, 2019

We had the very very secret special for lunch

A funny thing happened at lunch yesterday.

For the past few days I've been seeing an advertisement floating around on social media for a Grove restaurant. It's a good deal at a place I like. I have a friend who is always complaining about the cost of food in the Grove, so I showed him the ad and he said, "Let's go!" So we went.

We met up there and sat down and asked the waiter for the lunch special. He said that it was only for people who lived in the Grove. My friend and I looked at each other and said, "We live in the Grove." He then asked for ID!

So we took out our drivers licenses and showed him, a bit incredulous that this was happening, but we showed him the licenses without saying anything.

He said, "I need to see your Coconut Grove ID." I said, "I'm Tom and this is [my friend's name], that's our Grove ID. But he was serious.

I told him there was no such thing, at least not yet. With the state of our country these days, who knows if this will ever become a thing. God forbid.

He said he would have to go speak to the manager. Now let me say this, the special is about $5 off the regular price on the menu, so all this to save $5 was a bit much.

He came back and said, "OK, I have permission to serve you the special of the day." And he proceeded to do so.

I asked him if he was from another country, which he was, and I asked him about the ID. "Do you have an ID for your country to show you are a citizen of your country?" He told me he did. I asked if I could see it out of curiosity, but he said he didn't have it on him.

Later on I asked the manager about the special and told him I was going to write about it in the Grapevine, and share the info, but he told me not to.

So we had the secret special that no one is supposed to know about. And it was good. But you didn't hear about it from me.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Looks like the electric scooters are here to stay

It looks like some of the electric scooters were taken out of the Grove, like the Bird brand, but the orange Spin brand is in big supply, seems like there is group of them every few feet.

The program has worked well, the scooter companies are abiding by the laws and taking care of the scooters - keeping them juiced up and out of walkways.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill legalizing electric scooters in the state of Florida. So they could be here to stay.

There are many who don't like them. I love them. I don't actually use them, but I love seeing people scoot down the streets alone or in groups.

The new bill (HB453) takes effect immediately.

Cities still have control over how they are operated and regulated, but the new law says they are legal.

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Welcome The Bazaar Project to the neighborhood

Monkeys hanging from the ceiling, flamingos on the shelves, purple, orange and blue bunnies along the side wall, a pink lipstick chair as you enter; yup, that's The Bazaar Project, the new lifestyle store on McFarlane Road.

That's Yeliz Titiz on the right, owner, and her friend Sofia Blomqvist Sohl who stopped by to visit.



The Bazaar Project is located at 2990 McFarlane Road, right next to the entrance to the new Mr. C Hotel. It's the place with the big garage door wall, which will soon open onto McFarlane, to reveal a new, long, white wine and coffee bar.


You may remember Fastbuck Freddie's in Key West; this store reminds me of that. There are so many fun things for the home and so many housewarming and hostess gifts fill the walls.

They're open seven days from 11 am to 7 pm; those are their summer hours, which may change in the fall.




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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bluegrass Night at The Grove Spot

Enjoy a night of good old-fashioned picking, vocal harmonies, fiddle solos, and instrument swapping with Bryan and the Not Really a Family Band on Thursday, June 20 from 8 to 11 pm at The Grove Spot.

Bluegrass Nights is a regular feature at The Grove Spot.

With roots from across the county, the Not Really a Family Band plays classic bluegrass and country songs, old time fiddle tunes, and dash of contemporary folk/americana music.  The group is led by Bryan Dubrow (vocals/guitar/banjo/mandolin), who will be joined by Ariele Macadangdang (fiddle/vocals) and Nick Petumenos (vocals/guitar/bass/mandolin/dobro).  

There is no cover, and seating is first come first serve.  The first set starts at 8 pm; the band will be picking and singing until 11, so come grab a drink and take in some live bluegrass music. 

The Grove Spot is at 3324 Virginia Street.

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Books & Books is perfect for a light lunch

I was walking by in the rain and ended up at Books & Books for lunch yesterday. I hadn't been there for awhile. I loved that their cafe area is much larger than it was, and their menu has something for everyone.


Chef Matthew Cabanes

As people checked the books out and others ate at tables outside or at the counter, I ordered the Turkey Panini, which I don't think is a panini since it's made on Jewish Rye, not ciabatta bread, or focaccia or multi-grain bread, according to Betty Crocker. But that's good, I don't like ciabatta or focaccia, the rye was perfect and the sandwich was warm and creamy-like and the bread was toasted and cruncy. Perfect. It comes with maple syrup, I passed on that. 

This is just one of the delicious creations by chef Matthew Cabanes.

Books & Books is quite cozy, maybe it was the gloomy day, but it had the feel of Vinos in the Grove, which used to be in that space at 3409 Main Highway (Vinos is now at 2889 McFarlane Road). There is wine and craft beer and lots of different foods on the menu, surrounded by books, lots of books in wooden shelves.

New on the menu is a Tuna Melt or Tuna Cucumber Sandwich and they also have a Caprese sandwich now, to go along with their Turkey "panini," Avocado Toast, Prosciutto Tartine, Artisan Grilled Cheese and Curry Chicken, also there's an Israeli Salad, all from $11 to $14.

They have a "passionate commitment to local fresh ingredients." Also on the menu is a Mezz Board (hummus, baba ghanoush, labneh, white bean dip and herbs), a Barcelona Board with prosciutto, manchego, brie and other cheeses; a Shuk Board with chickpeas, hummus goat cheese and other things and an Adriatic Vegan Board with lots of things like avocado, zucchini and baba ghanoush.

Every Wednesday at the Café at Books & Books it's Wine Down Wednesday. Receive 50% off all bottles of wine all day long.


They are open Monday-Saturday: 11-10 pm and Sunday: 11-7 pm.

It's worth a visit to check out the menu, or of course to buy some books!

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Cars & Cigars and rain; lots of rain

If you stopped by Sunday's Cars & Cigars at The Barnacle, you got quite wet, but it was still fun. Charter Flight performed as the rain came down behind them.


The classic cars were set up on the lawn, but most of the other activities - the bbq, the biergarten, the picnic tables, the cigar rolling and the band were set up under the large tiki hut out back. It was quite cozy.


Some activities were on the houses large porch. It appears as if the park is empty by looking at these pictures, but everyone was undercover.


I stayed a bit and then headed south for a family Father's Day thing. We got caught in what seemed like a monsoon, we could barely see out the windshield as we drove down Old Cutler Road!






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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Spend 4th of July in Coconut Grove!


Begin your Independence Day celebration with a good old-fashioned picnic at The Barnacle Historic State Park. Come by between 11 am and 4 pm, on Thursday, July 4, where the whole family can enjoy crafts, a scavenger hunt, traditional lawn and board games, and more on the spacious bayside lawn of one of Miami’s oldest and most beautiful historic homes. 

Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome. Pack your own picnic lunch or purchase hot dogs, burgers and other treats from The Barnacle Society. 

Live music is always an important part of the celebration, and this year’s performer will be J.D. Danner. J.D. is a New York girl who is very much in touch with her "redneck roots." More than just a girl with a guitar, she is an entertainer with a magnetic command of the stage and a true talent for drawing in an audience. 

Her music has been featured in military training films and performed by NFL cheerleaders on their own USO tours. She has performed on the 50 yard line at an NFL halftime show and has received awards from Fort Hood Army Base, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach and the Disabled American Veterans for her music in support of our  troops.  J.D. is an artist with a mission to change the world through the power of music.  In effort to do this she has partnered with the American Cancer Society, Disabled American Veterans and Forgotten Soldiers Outreach along with regularly touring to perform for our military and their families at bases in the U.S. and overseas.

Entry is $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children under six.


Then later at night, come by Regatta Park starting at 6 pm where a 4th of July picnic with food and drink vendors will be part of the family fun. There will be another live musical performance, this one by Soulixer. Park entrance is free.

At 8 pm, the Grove's all-time favorite Hot Dog Eating Competition will take place.

From 9 to 10, enjoy fireworks over the bay followed by another concert, this one by Yoli Mayor.

But the party doesn't end at 10 pm, Hotel Arya at 2889 McFarlane Road, is having an after party until midnight.

Bicycle over to the park, Bike Coconut Grove will keep an eye on it for you free at the Bicyle Valet. 

Vendors at Regatta Park will incluude:
- Icetasy Italian Ice
- Don Guiseppes - Pizza
- Fair Food Concessions (formerly Good Ole' Corn) -  BBQ turkey drumsticks, ribs, chicken on stick, hot dogs/sausages, roasted corn, funnel cakes
- Shore to Door - Conch Salad + Ceviche 
- Choices Cafe - Vegan BBQ
- Doggystyle - Glow-in-the-dark cotton candy + popcorn
- Brewing Life - Kombucha 
and there may be a few more.

Activities include: 
Three different stations (cookie decorating, crafts) provided by Miami Kids Mag
Facepainting by Art Box
Lightup Balloon
and there's a Photobooth

Regatta Park is at  2699 SW 27th Avenue.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Grand Opening party at Mustache Barber Shop

Remember that story we did on the new Mustache Barber Shop? Well, they are having a grand opening party on Thursday, June 20 from 5 to 8 pm.

Enjoy a game of pool, drinks, small bites, good music, games for kids and giveaways.

You don't have to wait till Thursday for a haircut or shave, give them a call now: 305.456.6738.

They are located at 3333 Rice Street.

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Will mangroves help with sea-level rise?

There is always talk about clearing the mangroves in the parks (Kennedy and Peacock especially), so that the view of the bay is improved. But there's an interesting article in the Miami Herald that says mangroves can be some sort of salvation for Miami regarding sea-level rise. 

They call it "living shorelines."

This is a vintage photo of a lady in Coconut Grove in 1890. She is surrounded by mangroves. What's old is new again?

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Friday, June 14, 2019

City approves CRA expansion into Village West

Hannah Curry and Renescha Coats fighting for housing for all in Nov. 2016.

"You ever have a day that has gone so well that you just can't get off of that cloud?" asked District Commissioner Ken Russell. Well he had that feeling Thursday after the Miami City Commission voted 4-1 to extended the life of and to include Village West as part of the existing Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). 

Commissioner Ken Russell has been pushing for this for a long time. He feels that with the money and power that the CRA has, it can help Village West remain the Bahamian historic neighborhood that it is, and head off development that has overtaken the neighborhood.

Ken has directed the city to sue the slumlords in the area and his goal is to preserve what is left of the area including wood frame and shotgun houses that belonged to the original settlers. The legislative changes will allow this to begin. Village West has the highest amount of demolitions and evictions in the City of Miami. "Speculative development is going in there like a vulture," said Ken.

Street improvements, affordable housing and historical designations will help preserve the neighborhood. Infrastructure and green space will also be improved.

Money from the CRA from tax revenues will go directly to the area to help eliminate blight. The CRA money must go to the designated area, "The CRA traps that money," for that area, says Ken. The CRA can incentivize development by trapping future tax dollars there and steer that development so that is to the benefit of existing residents.

"I just have to thank my fellow commissioners for their support of what I have been trying to accomplish," said Ken. "I couldn't do it without them."

Ken campaigned for CRA reform when he ran for office. The original Omni CRA's money went to a tunnel and performing arts center and Ken's goal was to always have the money go to impoverished neighborhoods and affordable housing.

$100 million of future revenue will go to affordable housing. This money will be available due to the extension of the CRA.  An agreement was made with Commissioner Joe Corollo to reinstate funding from the CRA, that was previously removed, to fund Maurice Ferre Park which is in downtown Miami. The park can be invested in now. It originally was a contaminated park which the CRA cleaned up at a cost of $15 million.

Sadly at the commission meeting on Thursday, there were less residents who spoke in favor of the CRA prospect simply because there are less people in the neighborhood. So many from last year had been evicted, displaced and moved away.

The CRA expansion still needs to be approved at the County level. 

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

More summer activities for students needed

Students have been asking for more summer activities and the Coconut Grove Rotary Club is working on getting those activities for them. The Grove Club is now contacting government agencies and organizations with the ability to help implement the students’ ideas. 

This is part of the theme for the International Rotary Year 2019-20, which is "Rotary Connects the World." The Grove Rotary reached out to school students, and through them, to their parents, to find out what they wanted for their communities. 

Several club members volunteered their time and talents and the club also contacted Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida to find qualified instructors for more activities. The club met with Citizens for a Better South Florida, which coordinates park activities in several Grove parks, so they could select activities that best fit their summer program. This project is an example of how that happens on a local level when a Rotary Club connects citizens’ wishes to the government agencies and non profits  with the capacity to implement those wishes.

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe, in their communities, and in themselves. There are over 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries, with over fifty clubs in Rotary District 6990 which serves South Florida. 

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More on the lack of parking in the Grove

The new Oak Street office building; formerly the Oak Street Garage.

We were talking about the lack of parking in Coconut Grove and there are people who have other points of view, who apparently don't feel that parking is an issue.

One person in the comments, claims that, "There appears to be some confusion in the blog piece and comments above. The Oak Street Garage will remain a garage, but will have office space built on top. The future is going to be less car-centric and more focused on ride shares, scooter shares, biking, public transit, and walking. A little less parking will help expedite that shift. Perhaps the loss of parking is a good thing."

That's all well and good and true - there will be parking in the new office building, but correct me if I'm wrong; won't the office workers be using those parking spaces?

When the parking garage was first sold, it was then taken over by the construction workers who were working on nearby Terra projects. They had been getting complaints about taking up all the street parking, so parking in the garage, purchased by their boss, seemed to be the solution.

But, by 9 or 10 am each day, the garage was full and closed to other cars who wanted to park there. It opened up again after the construction workers left, and this could be a solution for parking at the office building on nights and weekends, but perhaps not, otherwise the Miami Parking Authority wouldn't be in such a panic over finding a new location for a new parking garage today.

As for the idea of being less "car-centric," that sounds great, but in Miami, we are a car city and getting people out of their cars may not be that easy. New York City has major problems with cars and traffic and arguably, they have one of the best mass transit systems in the country, they are a walkable city and still cars dominate the landscape there. Traffic is backed up all times of day and night and there is always talk of charging fees to drive cars into the city. You can take a subway to all of the boroughs (except Staten Island), and take one quick subway ride to New Jersey as well as quick commuter trains upstate, into Connecticut and New England, and yet, there is major traffic and parking issue in the city.

I don't see us here in the Grove or Miami becoming car-centric any time soon. There are some in the Grove who have been pushing us that way but all it has done is hurt business and make things frustrating for locals and visitors. Street parking spaces have been made into extended sidewalks or just eliminated for no apparent reason and garages don't exist. Many spaces were turned into loading zones which sit empty all day and the valet service has taken over all the rest. It'seems that valet services pop up on a whim. There's one guy in charge of the transportation committee whose desire seems to be to get rid of every street parking spot in the Grove. I don't know why. Does he own Uber or Freebee or something?

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Our critical need for parking

The former Oak Street Garage. Now an office building.

There is a story in Miami Today about Coconut Grove's parking situation. It says that at a recent meeting, of the Miami Parking Authority, CEO Art Noriega, spoke about the need for critical parking, he said he has spoken with US Rep. Donna Shalala about building a garage near or on the Post Office property.

There was talk of this at a few meetings in 2007. It's an excellent location. But it begs the question; why did Noriega sell the Oak Street Garage to the Terra Group so that it could become an office building? And now he's begging for parking. At first I didn't see a problem because I was told it would remain a garage, "for cash flow," as I was told by David Martin of Terra. But of course it's not a garage anymore, it's an office building, which has inconvenienced traffic flow in the Grove for what seems forever as the building is being renovated. That whole Tigertail and Mary area is a mess and has been for years due to greed and selfishness.


Of course the recent removal of many on street parking spaces is not helping the parking issue around the village. It's a matter of adding a few lines in the street and poof, the spaces are gone. I wrote about it last month and showed some spaces on Grand Avenue that were removed, since then I've counted about 12 that are now gone on both sides of the street.

This image shows another area of Grand Avenue where spaces were removed in that one area. The photo was taken early on a weekend morning, so all the other spaces are open, but during the day, these blocked spaces are sorely needed.


There was a large well-attended meeting regarding parking in October 2017, but nothing has been done.



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Classic cars, live music and more at Cars & Cigars

The Barnacle Society invites you to Cars & Cigars, held each Father’s Day on the picturesque bayfront grounds of The Barnacle Historic State Park, 3485 Main Highway.

The event is open to classic cars at least 25 years old and takes place this year on Sunday, June 16 from 11 am to 3 pm. Classic car owners can register by calling 305-442-6866 or emailing Jessica.Cabral@FloridaDEP.gov


Enjoy cold beverages in the biergarten while fathers sample hand-rolled cigars. Kids can craft a gift for Dad, and everyone can listen to live music by Charter Flight and vote for their favorite car. 

Spread out a blanket on the grass with a picnic from home, or purchase burgers and hot dogs hot off the grill from The Barnacle Society. Proceeds from concession sales help raise funds for historic preservation at the park. 

General admission to the grounds is $2 person. Children under 6 are free, and well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome. 


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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Miami Latin Rooftop Pool Party

The Mayfair Hotel is having a Miami Latin Rooftop Pool Party starting Sunday, June 30, hosted by Miami Salsa Dream Team.

Back by popular demand get ready for a day of nonstop dancing, fun under the sun, relaxations, splash, and much more in Latin flavor and style. Bring your sexiest bathing suits, let your friends know, and join in at Rooftop Pool.

The party is from 1 to 7 pm, but first, at noon, enjoy a Bachata Class by Dance Awakening.

Live music by Tito Pakin Y Su StreetSon and DJ Mike Calderon and Guest DJ Alfredo Rodriguez Jr spinning the best Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, and Reggaeton. And there will be a live performance by  Tasha Rodriguez and Rhythms Dance Studio, LLC.

Contact the hotel through Facebook for free tickets to the events and also for Cabana Specials for you and your group, whether you are celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, or just want to get together for a great time.

Free cover and drink specials all day.

The Mayfair is at 3000 Florida Avenue.

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Lokal's 'Christmas in June' anniversary party

Lokal is having an anniversary party on Thursday, June 20. It's their 7.5 year anniversary! They opened on Christmas Eve 2011, I remember it well, we stayed late the day before to get the story and the right picture of the perfect burger as they experimented late into the night and trained the staff.

Since their anniversary is Christmas Eve, they never wanted to compete with it, so this year they decided to celebrate on the half year.

The party starts at 6 pm. They are offering a free beer for RSVPd guests, 10% off your entire check (only with rsvp) and a special Anniversary Menu that will only be available that night. Plus, an exclusive tap list, beer, and wine cocktails available for purchase, games, and a photo booth. 

Anniversary menu:
Pulled Pork Sandwich w/ pineapple salsa
Shrimp Ceviche w/ chips
Upside down Pineapple Cake
Vicky's House Piña Colada Milkshake

You must show your ticket via mobile or print to claim your free beer and 10 % off your check. 

With your rsvp you will also be entered in their raffle for a swag pack.

You can RSVP here.

Lokal is at 3190 Commodore Plaza.

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