City Hall, Steve Haas' Biscayne Boulevard restaurant, has closed.
The restaurant closed after dinner service yesterday evening. A day earlier, City Hall's Facebook page posted a message to fans saying it had lost its lease and would be closing:
The two-story, 6,000-square-foot establishment was a tribute to art deco design, but instead of featuring the ice-cream colors of Ocean Drive's hotels, City Hall took cues from the industrial, masculine art deco of classic New York structures such as the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. The walls contained hand-painted murals depicting Radio City Music Hall, the Chrysler Building, and other iconic images of the Big Apple.
The sophisticated decor contrasted Haas' vision of a down-home neighborhood brasserie. Since opening in summer 2011, the restaurant served both residents of the nearby condos that line Edgewater as well as the pre- and post-theater crowds from the nearby Arsht Center and American Airlines Arena (the restaurant would stay open late to accommodate Heat fans and music aficionados). Diners came for comfort food favorites like meatloaf, served with chorizo-maple mac 'n' cheese and duck confit and wild mushroom pizza. The restaurant also hosted various community events such as a dog-friendly City Paws happy hour and a Sunday gospel brunch.
In a 2011 review, New Times critic Lee Klein said, "We likewise endorse the restaurant as a welcome and needed addition to an increasingly populated neighborhood. This is one City Hall that serves its constituents well."
Haas, who was chairman of the board of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau for five years, had years of restaurant experience to tap into when he opened City Hall, including a stint as co-owner and operating partner of Soyka Restaurant and general manager for China Grill Management-owned restaurants. Unlike many restaurant owners, Haas was frequently at his place talking to customers and managing day-to-day operations. He was also hands-on at various charity events by serving food and chatting with guests.
The hospitality executive is also credited with planting
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With a resumé like that, Haas will likely plan another restaurant in the near future. As the Facebook post says: "We lost our lease... but we are not done with you yet!"
UPDATE: During a phone conversation yesterday, Steve Haas wanted to send a message to the people who came to bid City Hall a farewell. "The overwhelming amount of support and love that came through the doors the last few days — I can't even express how I felt. I'm so exhausted mentally and physically from hugging."
Haas didn't want to go into details about losing the restaurant's lease but instead looked back on what made City Hall special in the eyes of so many Miamians. "It was the Cheers of the area. I've been running restaurants since 1979, and I've never had so many regulars." Haas and his team, in turn, supported the diners who frequented the establishment. "We would make anything for anyone. We wanted them to feel like this was home."
What's next for Haas, who has been in the restaurant industry for nearly four decades? "So many people have asked me to resurrect Tuscan Steak. That's been in the back of my head for a long time." Miami is looking forward to the restaurant veteran's next move.