The Bitch
Sam Weber

The Bitch

One Ninety, the bistro on NE Second Avenue and 46th Street that was both ultra-chill alternative to South Beach and neighborhood hangout, will hang up the "Closed" sign for good this week after a three-year run. Owners Alan and Donna Lee Hughes, who cannot resolve a dispute over a proposed rent increase with landlord Georges Williams, will shut down in style, however, with a Saturday-night party that promises to run into brunch on Sunday.

"It was a rat-infested dump when we first got there, and everything we've done there is a labor of love," said Donna Lee. "Williams is a little greedy and I think he's a little naive. It's unfortunate. It's a community place, which is really what we value and believe in."

The couple, who have three young children, will concentrate on their new venture, also called One Ninety, which will open in the Albion Hotel in Miami Beach this winter.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't come to terms," says Williams. "But there's been a restaurant there for the past 24 years, and another will open in the same place."

Captive Audience

Along the lonesome highways of South Miami, an original and curious advertising campaign for the Miami Metrozoo has erupted. Vertical light post banners show portraits of individual young children hovering over the words "Miami Metro Zoo," and nothing else. The youngsters, most impossibly not just white but exceedingly fair, gaze down with uniformly zoned-out expressions, saved one red-haired, freckled boy who seems freaked out by whatever he's bug-eyed and curl-lipped at.

So what does it mean? Are children part of the zoo's collection now? Marketing director of the Zoological Society of Florida Paul Vrooman actually came up with the campaign himself and explains: "The promotion was about making people smile and showing customers at the zoo having a good time. Because the idea is that they're reacting to something. An animal doing something at the zoo, or an experience they're having at the zoo."

No actual critters were used in the photo shoot for the animal-free spree. The children were directed to respond to stuffed animals. Well, they do look as if they're responding to something ... possibly a vision of some amorous oryxes, a sort of zoo-size version of the Visa check card commercial with all the rabbits? One little blond girl with enormous pupils holding a toy giraffe seems to be reacting to too much NyQuil. Vrooman says the strategy has been a success: "A company that does research for zoos and aquariums around the country said this advertising scored way high as far as öDo your customers recall your advertising?'"

Purified Air

Listeners tuning in to Howard Stern’s morning broadcasts on WQAM-AM (560) will notice a new approach to accommodating FCC guidelines on keeping the airwaves clean. Instead of the piercing beeps and bleeps used to squelch the profanities uttered by Stern and his guests, a few bars of the chugging guitars and drum kit blasts of local death metal band Skunk Ape preempt the dirty talk.

Your Own Personal Backyard Jesus

Parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Miami Beach are having a hard time emulating the savior who welcomed lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other wretched souls into his circle and offered them salvation.

At a recent meeting several congregation members expressed their displeasure regarding a plan to convert a neighboring hotel into an apartment building for recovering drug addicts and homeless people. The Paradise Inn hotel is at 85th Street and Harding Avenue, across the street from the church and St. Joseph's Elementary School. "It was purchased without our knowledge," groans parent Karen G. Begin, an immigration attorney whose children attend the school. "I'm very concerned about the people who may be living at this facility. We need to address this now if we are going to stop it."

According to Miami Beach city codes, the property can be converted from a hotel to apartments without a change in zoning. The building was purchased in June by Carrfour Supportive Housing, a Miami-based nonprofit developer of housing for the homeless.

To allay fears, Carrfour representatives have invited parents to visit the agency's apartment buildings in the Little Haiti and Little River neighborhoods in Miami, says Maria Pellerin Barcus, Carrfour's president. "People imagine all kinds of bad things are going to happen," Pellerin Barcus said. "We are trying to impress upon them that there is a homeless problem on Miami Beach and that we are offering a solution."

Pellerin Barcus, whose children were baptized and received their first communion at St. Joseph's, says of the objecting parishioners: "Hopefully, they'll come around and be a bit more charitable."

Deleted from the DiLido

Edison Farrow, the promoter who runs the Website, complains to The Bitch that his Surreal Sundays parties at the Ritz-Carlton’s DiLido Beach Club were given the boot because the event was attracting a predominantly gay crowd. Farrow says he can’t get a straight answer from the South Beach hotel about why the event, which began in November and immediately brought out hundreds of flash-with-cash men, was dumped earlier this month.

Ritz-Carlton workers, though slippery, insist the reality about Surreal Sundays is that it had to stop to allow the DiLido itself a makeover. A December 2 letter to Farrow from hotel manager Liam Doyle refers to the approval of “an outstanding contract our resort had with an outside vendor for the DiLido Beach Club,” adding: “Upon completion of the space we will then look at all parties and events and see if they are still viable.”

Michelle Payer , the chain’s regional director of communications, says: “First and foremost Ritz-Carlton welcomes all guests. We certainly look forward to welcoming all the Surreal Sunday guests at this new venue when it is finished.” Payer wouldn’t exactly say if the DiLido will close completely during the renovation, or whatever this project is: “I believe there will be some reconcepting done with new décor and light remodeling of the space.”


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