After months of construction, David's Café reopened on Alton Road late last week almost a year after its nearly 40-year-old Collins Avenue outpost closed.
The space is noticeably smaller than its two predecessors, but a crowd still flooded in on a late Sunday morning for cafecito and croquetas.
Intricate blue-and-black Cuban tiles line the floor, and a vivid portrait of Cuban icon José Martí shedding a single tear presides over the walk-up window where you can again grab one of Miami's most iconic coffees.
Owner Adrian Gonzalez said the lengthy road construction he blamed for the closing of his Collins Avenue café helped him get into the Alton Road space. Both of the Beach thoroughfares have been under heavy construction for the past two years, frustrating many business owners.
"I was able to use what was going on to negotiate," he said in between greeting tables of regulars.
The menu is limited until Tuesday. That means fried eggs with bacon and home fries ($7.25) or pancakes ($7.45) for breakfast, followed by Cuban sandwiches ($8.95) and roast chicken ($8.95) or churrasco ($14.95) with moros at lunchtime. It's also cash only until credit card processors are set up.
The original location on Collins Avenue at Tenth Street and a larger location just off Lincoln Road were longtime hubs of sustenance for locals and tourists alike. Visiting the walk-up windows for a wake-up shot of caffeine was a ritual for many Beach residents, as was grabbing a Cuban sandwich or a couple of croquetas after a hard night of partying.
Since it opened in 1977, David's was a constant throughout Miami Beach's renaissance. It saw the island city go from a sleepy, rundown enclave of retirees and drug peddlers to an international center of fashion and frivolity. The closing of the original locations was yet another sign of South Beach's evolution, as large investment firms gobble up hot real estate, jack up rents, and force local businesses into a smaller and smaller pool of affordable space.
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"We were never looking to leave the Beach — we've been here for 40 years," Gonzalez said.
The new David's Café is located at 919 Alton Rd., Miami Beach, and is open daily from 6 a.m to 10 p.m.