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Thursday, January 28, 2010

It was a total waste of three hours

The 3 am/5am bar closing time issue was heard tonight at a packed City Hall and in the end, the City Commission made no decision. Well actually the decision was to form a committee to study the issue of having the 3 am bar closing time become City-wide or just keep it in the Grove.

For three hours, residents and business owners took turns speaking to the Commission, although it really was just Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff who needed to be convinced. It was a packed house and everyone had time to speak.

John El-Masry (shown with Village Council member Michelle Niemeyer above) showed up with a stack of police reports that came from downtown clubs in recent months, showing all the arrests and problems. John's idea was to have every bar in the City close at 3 am to prevent drunk driving and fights, not just Coconut Grove's bar, his bar actually, Mr. Moe's, the only one which would be affected by a change back to 5 am.

Janet Mondshein, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Miami (MADD) also agreed that city-wide 3 am and even 2 am would solve a lot of problems. She was obviously brought in by the Commissioner to speak on behalf of his cause, but in the end, she was even shot down in that the people in other districts of the City are still free to drink until 5 am, 7 am and even 24 hours in some cases, not really helping Ms. Mondshein's cause at all to keep drunk drivers off the roads at that hour.

At the beginning of the meeting, a presentation was shown that proved how crime and deaths went down dramatically after 3 am, when drinking is stopped.

"Spread the good news everywhere!" is what John El-Masry said to Commissioner Sarnoff -- meaning, let the rest of the City and even County, share the goodness that earlier bar closings bring. He accused Sarnoff of being a hypocrite and having a traffic circle built in front of his house and closing the bars early to just keep traffic out of the Grove and particularly off his Street (Virginia Street) and not as a reason to protect early morning bikers and others from drunk drivers, which has been his reasoning of changing the bar closing time to 3 am for the past two years.

Some residents, like Jim McMasters made no sense in agreeing that some districts should keep 5 am and just the Grove and select spots should close earlier. Why not save lives everywhere? Why are we so blessed in the Grove to be graced with early bar closings?

Lilliana Dones made the greatest case for everyone to come to their senses. She said the Grove is known for its festivals of which there are many. And with these festivals we have beer and liquore sponsors and during the festivals from 11 to 6 pm or later, we serve these drinks and then at closing time, 6 pm or 7 pm, we wave everyone off to drive home drunk.

Andrew Leeds, owner of the former Temple nightclub location was furious. He says he cannot rent the spot out because of the disadvantage of the Grove's earlier closing time. He does have one business eyeing the spot -- a drug rehab center. Is that what we want instead?

All in all, dozens of people spoke for hours on either side and nothing was decided in the end. Mayor Tomas Regalado sat in the audience through the whole debate, but made no attempt to step in, aside from saying things like better street lighting and parking would help more than the extra two hours from 3 am to 5 am or the City-wide change to 3 am closing time for all. You can see him below listening in as Village Council Chairman Patrick Sessions give his views to Commissioner Sarnoff, on leveling the playing field with Same AM for all.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The presentation Sarnoff made with help from the New Jersey officer was drastically flawed. Why compare first six months of the year before the 3am closing to last six months after the change. Summer falls within the latter which obviously gives lower incident numbers due to slow season. For more accurate data at least the same time period must be shown. The other gross flaw was to show vacancies in Mary Brickell and South Miami compared to Coconut Grove, those comparisons are simply weird since we all know Mary Brickell is a new kid on the block and what a failure South Miami was during the Bakery center era, when the Grove is at least ninety years older as a known world wide destination. Some want to change the Grove to suit them and refuse to adapt.

January 28, 2010 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job I wont be able to go to the very few places in little havanna struggling to survive.
It was very kindergarten (Because the teacher took away my toy, no one should have toys!)

January 28, 2010 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe John El-Masry should clean up the Roach Infestation with 3 critical violations and 5 non critical violations of Mr. Moes on 1/20/10. I'm sorry John Dirty Dining in Coconut Grove is totally unexceptable. Put your efforts into cleaning up your own kitchen First. We don't want to see you fail, but we want Moes to be successful. Put your efforts into more quality food and service. Georges is always packed, down the block. Time to rethink your own business plan. Put your time and efforts into your own business and stop getting all fired up with the 3 or 5 am closing for liquor.

January 29, 2010 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best recommendation; close the club that generates all the murders - Club Space.

January 29, 2010 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok While I was for the 5am close time, I was not engaged deeply in the argument. But this is a load BS. Can we recall our commisioner? For gods sake this is Miami, not Mayberry. A citywide 3am closing would destroy business in miami PERIOD. All the business will go to south beach. WTF is wrong with these people? Lets stop beating around the bush and put this up for a vote. Let the people decide.

January 29, 2010 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame the people around with the same AM they figured that if they asked it to be everywhere they would never do it. play with fire and your gonna get burned.

January 29, 2010 12:43 AM  
Anonymous sailfast said...

Did I hear that Monty's last call is 5 am ? Sorry they close on weekends at 1 am, & during the week maybe 11 if they still have a crowd. I'm there all the time with my boat.

January 29, 2010 12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tonight went down just like I thought it would. Commissioner Sarnoff had a well orchestrated "dog and pony show" complete with a Hollywood quality video presentation, and dozens of solicited endorsments.

I will continue to push for the same operating hours as the rest of the city whether it be 3:00 am or 5:00 am. I found it incredible that any resident in favor of 3:00 am closings in the Grove out of cocern for drunk driving would then turn around and advocate 5:00 am, 7:00 am, and 24 hour liquor sales in other parts of the city. I take offense because I live at 888 Biscayne Blvd. two blocks from Club Space and 100 feet from Club Mecca, clubs that are allowed to stay open 24-7. My daughter is about to go to the new MAC School right down the street and I would like the same protection for myself and my daughter as our Commissioner has provided for himself.

As far as the recent health code violation at Mr Moe's, I've had over 20 years experience operating restaurants and my record speaks for itself. I had been using Bennett Pest Control Co. for the past four years and had to part ways after this unfortunate lapse in performance. I now have contracted Truly Nolen and the problem has since been resolved.

John El-Masry

January 29, 2010 1:57 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donatelli said...

I'm thinking that a 3 AM bar closing for the entire State of Florida would really make everyone safe! Anyone with me?

January 29, 2010 5:11 AM  
Blogger CPayan said...

Sounds to me like they made a decision. Good luck getting that out of committee again.

January 29, 2010 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with your assessment that the meeting was a waste of 3 hours Grape. In fact, that statement is a bit insulting. People finally got the chance to look the Commissioner in the eye and tell him how they felt about his ordinance. It gave me the oppurtunity in a public forum to tell the Commissioner that his ordinance cost me and eleven other people at Mr. Moe's to lose our jobs; and just as important in this day and age, lose our health insurance for our familes. I also got the chance to represent the 30 other employee's at Mr. Moe's (bartenders, servers, barbacks, foodrunners) whose salaries were also cut by 33% due to the loss of the two most profitable hours during any given day and watch that money that they relied on go a few blocks west to Flannigans for no other reason than the "Commission says so". I was also able to speak up for the 50 or so employees who lost their jobs when the 3 nightclubs the Grove had shut down due to 3am. In all Grape, that is roughly 90 to 100 people who the Commissioner either put out of work, drastically reduced salaries and forced employers to cancel health insurance plans ! He finally had to look us in the eye....
But most important, John El-Masry got to call the Commissioners bluff. By John telling everyone he has no problem closing whenever the law states in an effort to make our district safer and to level the business playing field for restaurant/ long as it is city-wide and better yet, county-wide... the Commissioner is now forced to show his hand. He can not keep this just as a Grove thing or he will be exposed as a fraud and hypocrite. Period.
You call that a waste of time?....C. Carroll

January 29, 2010 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope everyone does remember this conversation next time SARNOFF is up for election. The grove elected him, the grove can remove him!

January 29, 2010 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody for "closing " sarnoff from any more elected positions in the future ? By that I mean when is his elected term over ?

January 29, 2010 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Willie Lopez was ask to present the Crime statistics for the Grove and not the Miami Police Department. It is my understanding that Kent Security's contract is due to expire and the BID (Sarnoff's suckys) are going to offer the contract to Mr. Lopez's Security Co., any coflict of interest?

I can't wait to see the make-up of the committee- I am sure that it will be un-biased-David Collins-Monty Trainer, Ed Prelaz, Sue McConnell,Wellan,Ron Nelson- and please don't forget the very intelligent Barbara Lange.

January 29, 2010 8:50 AM  
Blogger CPayan said...

@Jim Donatelli

Why stop there!? We can have Florida ban all alcohol sales! We could even change our name from the Sunshine State to the Nanny State. Oh the fun we'll have, chillin out drinkin milk. Mmmm.

January 29, 2010 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended this meeting understanding this was for discussion only - everyone wanted a public meeting & got it. Was I the only one that understood this? As for the guy who says he was let go from Mr. Moe's, doesn't he know about other bars in Miami where he can get employed or he could go back to school so he wouldn't have to have 2 part time jobs.

January 29, 2010 9:34 AM  
Anonymous that guy said...

I have a few things to say, so please bear with me.

First, to anon 9:43 right above me - that's pretty ignorant. You obviously do not understand that based upon all of the bar closings lately and the curtailing of staff in general due to the overall economic situation, has pushed people with bachelors and master's degrees into the service industry, and left so many unemployed waiters waitresses and bartenders, that they can't just go find another job. Second, you're asking people to leave the grove or commute out of the grove - they probably moved here to avoid that.

More importantly - I want to know why people who run or bike at 5am deserve more protection than I??? I run between 6 and 8 or 8:30 pm. Sarnoff thinks its ok for drunk driving at that time - and it's just as if not more prevalent then after happy hour than at 5am. People that go out all night take more precautions and take cabs. People that go to happy hour do not. WHY IS MY LIFE WORTH LESS MARC SARNOFF?

Finally, there is no way that 3am citywide could or would happen. No commissioner would vote in favor of that because it would cause the economic collapse of the city. We would lose tourism period.

Stop being a fool Sarnoff and admit your mistake. To the person asking about a recall - it can be done. It requires the same amount of signatures as getting a candidate on a ballot. I've posted about it several times. If anyone is interested in this movement, I'm in, let's go.

We must rid ourselves of Sarnoff.

January 29, 2010 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For how many DECADES there was no stupid 3am closing rule in the Grove?

Things were just fine.

How many cities in the USA, and the World don't have such a stupid law? 90%, I would guestimate.

Since when do we allow our elected officials, ---our well-paid Servants (representatives if you will)--- decide for us when to go to sleep or close a business?

Again, it's a matter of Law Enforcement, Police in the Streets. There are Law against public drunkeness or littering or noise. Not that the Grove had any significant problems for DECADES before. We were doing just fine until Papa Sarnoff, this new Hitler character showed up recently. Only a few old, influential snobs who just want to shut down the Liberties of individuals with dumb, irrational pretexts. And only in a few blocks, when everyone will be drinking and driving anyway, if they must, as they've done FOREVER. I guess everyone will continue to go elsewhere but the Grove, at night, if they Decide to stay out late. It's their prerogative and there are many choices right around the corner. The stupidest, segregating, draconian law I've seen in a loooooong time. CI

January 29, 2010 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the issue of a "Same AM" rule also completely misses the point, IMO, which is Freedom to hang out whenever you want, 24/7, wherever you want, Provided that you respect Others and the rule of Law. Why not 1am, or 4am? It's just incredibly dumb, irrational and dictatorial, anyway you look at it. CI

January 29, 2010 10:24 AM  
Anonymous that guy said...

For those who care or want to look it up:

City of Miami Charter, Part I, Subpart A, Section 4(b):

"The mayor and all other members of the city commission shall be subject to recall."

January 29, 2010 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Niceee.....thank you killing the rest of the City in the process (for one bar no less)

January 29, 2010 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 9:34
You were obviously not paying attention at the meeting and are not in the service industry so therefore you have no bearing on what I said. I was the co-general manager of Mr Moes. I am well aware there are other restuarants in Miami wiseguy and I now work for two of them. Try to get a maneagement job in this city in this economy fella. People with MBA's and Law graduates are now servers and barteders to make ends meet. I know because I now manage them at the other places I now work. My point to your boy Sarnoff was that after 14 years of loyal service...after starting out as a busboy to help pay my way through UM, I finished up as a general manager and was pushed back to part time not because of performance, but because of his ordinance cutting profits by 35%. I had to lay a lot of people off at Moe's after that. Its ok with you that I..and 4 other managers by the way.. worked all the way up in a company from the ground up and achieved finacial success only to have it cut out from underneath us for no good reason? Was I not supposed to tell the Commissioner that? Also, try to get health insurance at any service industry job in Miami. What do you do for a living? If you are not or have never been in the industry, don't pass judgement.

January 29, 2010 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:48 - there is no way - NO WAY AT ALL - that any commissioner besides Sarnoff would vote in favor of a city wide 3am rule. They would get run out of town, tarred and feathered.

The point of that argument is to demonstrate that Sarnoff is a fake - that he doesn't care about protecting anyone - he's just a NIMBY, selfish A-hole, who's trying to drive property values down in the grove, so that his developer friends can buy it up and remake the place in his vision (Merrick parkish).

January 29, 2010 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all in Miami have a vote, drinker and none drinkers, to put a stop to this foolishness.
The inequity here is about fairness. The fact that within one community, one zip code we have a rule which is arbitrary. Flannigans and Monty's enjoy the 5 a.m. closing rule however John L. M. has to close at 3 a.m. Regardless, if you leave Flannigans or Monty's you will be going though THE Grove to get out of THE Grove.

January 29, 2010 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the petition? Can't we get this issue on the ballot next year? Sarnoff won't put it up to a vote, and we don't have any real elected commissioners with a set right now anyway.

Get the petitions in, have a referrendum and end this madness.

January 29, 2010 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six years in the industry in Coconut Grove and I cannot recall how many times tourists (well when we had actually had more than 8 of them) would talk about how "awesome" it was that we were able to have bars open until 5 AM. Tourism has been murdered in the grove. Night life in the grove has not been murdered, it has been butchered.

Three years ago there used to be cars lining up, looking anywhere for parking on Thursday-Saturday. Traffic would be backed up to the CVS on Grand. Parking used to be an ISSUE because there wasn't enough.

Now, even on the Grove's "gold night", I'm surprised if I see more than seven cars in line for the light by Cocowalk. The parking attendant behind the Knife now calls the quits and leaves at 1:00 a.m. things are so slow. The ironic thing is that the grove doesn't even get busy now until midnight. Tourists come out at 10, 11 o'clock and say "where the hell is everybody?".

Look at what happened when they moved UM games to Miami Gardens. Now everyone stays in Fort Lauderdale. That kills the fall commerce that the grove was able to experience for about six weekends a year from visitors.

On another note, I want to point out the macro-environmental impact a 3 AM closing would have.
Miami is one of the WORST housing markets in the economy. It is going to take years to ABSORB the market and will require people buying second homes or relocating. Foreign buyers from Europe and the Americas love Miami and its nightlife. Just rezone the city under "New Jacksonville" and send all the people looking for this nightlife to Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Don't worry, the Baby Boomers looking to retire will be looking at Orlando and Naples.

January 29, 2010 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who were those to young kids sitting on the commission, one of them looked like he just quit middle school, the other one was giggling like a fraternity dunce. These children make even Sarnoff look like a prince.

January 29, 2010 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To : That Guy,
Thank you for getting my back. You obviously have a service industry backround of some sort and it seems you have moved on to a different profession. I know this as I usually agree with your posts because they really resonate with service industry people. I meant what I said to the Commission and felt the need to tell my story for my sake, and the sake of the 90 people whose lives and families were affected by this ordinence. C Carroll

January 30, 2010 1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Cocowalk guy, sorry I forgot your name from the town hall meeting : I'm standing out front of your property watching 9 miami PD squad cars and one ambulence pull up to your property at 1:55 am to stop I guess "vandelism' as you chirped about it at the meeting. Was that in the Moviecoe deal? or do they just have a problem only if those 9 squad cars pull up at 3:55 am? see, its not just a 3am problem guy.....
Dave Wolfson

January 30, 2010 2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:00 am citywide seems like a great idea. Level the playing field.

3:00 am cut-off time makes the streets safer for residents and for tourists. Remember the female tourist who was murdered and set on fire after leaving Club Space at 7:15 am? Wouldn't she still be alive if Club Space closed at 3:00 am?

January 30, 2010 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Sarnoff's comment about referring to 'last-call' as 'leg-opener'!

January 30, 2010 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy's 'classey'!

January 31, 2010 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen to the tape. He did NOT say 'leg-opener'. He said 'leg-spreader'. A HUGH difference!

January 31, 2010 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't legspreader one of Mr. Moe's drink specials.....lotta class there.

January 31, 2010 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also agree on getting these places to stop serving alcohol at 3am. These 24-hour clubs cause numerous safety issues in our neighborhoods.

February 18, 2010 9:34 PM  

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