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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The one thing missing is a Cuban restaurant

One of the first things people ask for when they visit the Grove is for Cuban food. They are looking for a Cuban restaurants. So are the locals. We have a nice selection of places to eat in the Grove, but a Cuban place would complete the list.

I was chatting with a Grove restaurant owner who says one reason we don't have a Cuban restaurant is that the rents are too high. A $5 Cuban Sandwich would cost $12 to 15 in the Grove and the place would not survive. Those $4.99 breakfasts you see in Cuban restaurants would not be $4.99 here either. The whole business plan would not work.

But I did love Havana Grove. Remember them? They had excellent food at an excellent price but of course they are no longer around due to the high cost of doing business around here.

Havana Grove is where LoKal is now on Commodore Plaza.

I listed some of the food and prices on the Havana Grove menu here in 2009. Such great prices and such excellent food. I used to love the fish. It was such an excellent hangout, people would run in and out for coffee and pastries and of course have meals. The police would hang out at the counter. It was a real neighborly place.

The closest place to get a Cuban sandwich is the Bookstore, but they don't make it right, they use brioche. I mean, what is a Cuban sandwich or Media Noche without Cuban bread? They need to change that, I think they would sell more.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Grapevine for this insightful Expose. Coconut Grove is supposed to be a tourism destination. Tour busses arrive and the visitors want to see the unique and charming Coconut Grove that they have heard about. Many arrive in the morning to discover stores not opened yet, vacant shops and no place to walk to for a delicious Cuban Sandwich or Guava Pastelito. It’s hard to believe that Coconut Grove rents are so high that we have priced the most popular food in Miami out of the market. El Rinconcito El Chele (formerly Nena’s next to Sherwin Williams Paint) at 3791 Bird Rd. is the nearest restaurant that serves delicious and affordable Cuban cuisine. Their Cuban Sandwiches and Media Noche are almost as wonderful at Versailles on 3555 SW 8th St. Unlike some Coconut Grove restaurants, El Rinconcito is open 7 days a week from 7 am -10 pm. Versailles is open 7 days a week from 8 am - 1 am. Imagine going to London and not finding Fish and Chips or going to Naples Italy and not finding Pizza! News Times recently listed the 10 Best Cuban Sandwiches and 10 best Pastelitos. Would be great if Coconut Grove makes the list next year.

August 25, 2015 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain why the rents are so high in the Grove, and then half of it is empty?

I suppose the Universal Laws of Supply & Demand cease to exist on 33133 Land.


August 25, 2015 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There also used to be a Cuban place where Lulus is.

August 25, 2015 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gas station on 27th and us1 has great Cuban coffee and breakfast for cheap. They all serve cafeteria style lunch

August 25, 2015 8:22 AM  
Blogger DBlanc said...

Not finding Cuban food in coconut grove is not synonymous with not finding fish and chips in London or pizza in Naples. Foconut grove is not Cuba, and Cuban food is not that good. I would rather have authentic Thai or Vietnamese.

August 25, 2015 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting.. I happen to agree: Cuban food isn't anything special. How about authentic German food instead sausages and stuff? Or Venezuelan delicacies, much better than Cuban food, plus better business with the Exodus now.. Or Lebanese or Australian?

By the way, "American Food" ain't that great either, ask anyone in the world except Americans.

August 25, 2015 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Havana Harry's is just across US1, otherwise, enjoy the temporary reprieve from Cuban food....

August 25, 2015 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Havana Harry's in Lejeune road north of US 1 is has the best Cuban food in Miami

August 25, 2015 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An upscale Cuban restaurant can absolutely succeed with white table cloth and authentic food like Palomilla steak, Ropavieja, Congri and fresh juices the way it is done in Tampa by a very progressive and more assimilated Cuban community.

August 25, 2015 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vacationers want to experience local color and local flavors. They don’t travel to destinations for choices they have back home such as Starbucks (Grove has 2 and Lincoln Road as 4). Yes the Grove would indeed be a more desirable destination for tourist, residence and office workers if there was plenty of shopping and restaurant diversity like there is in Coral Gables or South Miami. The point of Grapevines Cuban Sandwich posting is to help shine a light on the high rents that aid in holding the Grove back from its potential. It’s sad that there are more interesting restaurants and shops on just about any one block in Coral Gables (and lower parking fees) then are located in the entire Village of Coconut Grove. Perhaps some of you with good ideas about more cuisine from Australia, Germany and Thailand will consider opening up a restaurant in the Grove. Would be great if you could also offer a tasty lunch for under $20. With the high rents in the Grove, Good luck with that!

August 25, 2015 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just don't get why store and restaurant rents are so high here. I found better and cheaper food in NYC.

August 25, 2015 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one dares to tackle the question, anon@9:48.

I tried @ 8:02 am.

SarnoffsVille mystery:

The less Demand for empty business spaces, the higher the available Supply the Higher the Rents.

Go figure.

August 25, 2015 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Cuban food, really, if upscale like Yuca's they just rip you off, Versailles is simply tacky hangout, the typical Cuban café is ok, no money maker and to be honest not going to drive the world crazy. Funny thing is Miami is one of few places that claims Cuban cuisine is something special, average to me......

August 25, 2015 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta try Columbia in Tampa, it is actually a Cuban restaurant and the oldest family run restaurant in Florida. Is there any business preserved and running in the Grove since 1905?

August 25, 2015 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree! I'd love to enjoy a nice Cafe Cubano or Cuban sandwich in walking through the grove. Tourists know this area is synonymous with Cuban culture. You could just as easily argue it's not Thailand or Vietnam.

August 25, 2015 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not know this and it's walking distance from me. THANK YOU!

August 25, 2015 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know what the BID does but it seems apparent that building owners don't look at Grove from an aerial perspective and determine "need."

Center Grove has four or five pizza places. There are no real deli's, no bagel places, no bakeries, no authentic Latin or Caribbean food, no seafood or chop houses. Heck there isn't even a real vegetarian place.

August 25, 2015 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

islas canarias is the only good cuban restaurant in miami.and now that finka is open WOW!!!!!! hands down best restaurant in miami by far.same family owns both.

August 25, 2015 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments constantly address the same analogies: high rents, closings, the old Grove vs. something new, etc., etc., etc. The Bay, where it touches the Grove has been dredged for deep bottomed vessels. The dock masters house had been expanded from about 800 square feet to about 24,000 square feet. We have a great park where the convention center once was. We have several other, actually about a dozen great parks in the Grove area! A Coral Gables, i.e., money, and a South Beach mentality, and the arts community slightly South of NW 20th Street are about to merge into one hell of world destination. Jobie Steppe

August 25, 2015 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a new vegetarian restaurant, Choices, opening in the old Flavour building on McFarlane next to the Sonesta, across form St Stephen's. They will have vegan/vegetarian restaurant, a vegan/vegetarian sushi bar, a juice bar and market for natural/organic foods, etc. They said they will serve organic beers and wines, also. Targeted opening is late October/early November. Should be a great addition to the Grove scene.

August 26, 2015 12:17 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Maybe the landlords like keeping places empty it might have something to do with tax write off. I'm just saying. Pretty depressing

August 26, 2015 5:16 PM  
Blogger lorid said...

I liked that little Cuban place when it was open. I always went for breakfast after I worked out. (yes I just the calories back in, whatever). I think a little Cuban cafeteria would be great. Not every restaurant in the Grove has to be high end.

August 28, 2015 7:39 PM  

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