Books are like glasses, people think they make them look smart. South Beach's version of reading is eating at a book store on Lincoln Road, hence the success of Books & Books Cafe (927 Lincoln Road), now in its fifth year.
To celebrate they're offering specials on lunch for $18.09 and dinner for $28.09 through September.
Is that special? Sounds expensive to someone who considers sardines and Doritos to be fish-and-chips.
The restaurant was probably cheaper back in the day, in its first incarnation as the Wet Paint Cafe, Chef Bernie Matz's pioneering Lincoln Road eatery where OLA's Chef Douglas Rodriguez got his start.
Short Order dialed up Matz, here he is commenting on the old days....
"At Books & Books Cafe I'm like two doors away from where Wet Paint used to be. How it all came about is I wrote a cookbook about 6 years ago. I was promoting at Books & Books in the Gables. So, Mitchell Kaplan (Books & Books owner), he comes up and he goes "You're the reason I'm on Lincoln road. He goes "You're the reason. Listen, I'm looking to start something, there's been like 7 cafes here in the past in 5 years, it's messing with my business." He goes, "I got this café idea," I was like, "You got the wrong guy," and now, here we are 5 years later.
Wet Paint was where Meat Market is now, that's just a major, beautiful, renovation, just insane. We were old school. Artists painted all over the place. It was funky at the time. It was like an East Village type of space and now it's big time
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Douggie Rodriguez got his start with us. When we met he was like 20 years old and started talking to me about like chocolate lasagna, that's how crazy we were. He messed up a lot too, it was like 50/50, 50 were amazing, and 50 were...amazing. We used to go and get crazy. We're still really good friends.
Wet Paint was the number 1 sidewalk café license ever given out by the City of Miami Beach. They had never ever done that. We went through the whole deal and got a 3 block license, we paid $5 a square foot, there was no one else doing it. We were right next door to the Miami City Balle, the studios were right next to the restaurant. It was just about us and 50 hot ballet guys and girls
South Florida Arts Center, they'd hang out and have coffee, we got them to paint our tables. People from the neighborhood painted the tables and then we sold them. It was a quaint as could be as compared to now."
Get some more info on Wet Paint Cafe and check out some archival media by clicking here.