Columns

Five Bids in for Scotty's Landing Replacement: More Burgers, Less Charm

It looks like the plan to kill Scotty's Landing is going forward. In fact, unlike so many of Miami's snail-paced ventures, the plans to replace Scotty's, Grove Key Marina, and Chart House are steamrolling ahead.

A few days ago, five bids were presented to a special selection committee to weigh the merits of the proposals that answered the city's RFP# 11-12024 (Indoor/Outdoor Restaurant) and RFP# 11-12-025 (Marina/Outdoor Casual Restaurant). Both RFP's concerned the city-owned properties located at 51 Chart House Dr. and 3385 Pan American Dr.

According to the Miami Herald, city officials "ushered reporters and the public out of the meeting room before the pitches began. Moreover, Judy Marsie-Hazen, an employee of the public facilities department, snatched from a Herald reporter's hands bid documents that had mistakenly been distributed at the beginning of the meeting."

I called City Manager Johnny Martinez twice today, and apparently Mr. Martinez has neither an assistant nor voicemail. His phone kept on ringing and ringing. A message left for Ron Nelson, chief of staff at Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's office, has yet to be returned either. I did, however, receive a list of the bidders -- all of which offer more or less similar concepts for beautiful cafés and upscale waterfront bistros. 

Most bidders are LLCs set up for the sole purpose of bidding on the

RFPs, and proposals include plans for a marina, a tiki hut that serves

ceviche, a sidewalk café in an airplane hangar named Fleat Street, and an outdoor eatery called Clipper's that serves burgers and fish to replace Scotty's

Landing (which serves burgers and fish). Landry, the owner of Chart House, proposed a seafood

restaurant with yacht-club style to replace the current seafood restaurant with yacht-club style.

It seems like only Scott

Wessel, the owner of Grove Key Marina and Scotty's Landing, sees

value in improving the waterfront without changing it into

another unneeded "gorgeous" eyesore. His bid for an upgraded eatery

and renovated marina can possibly make locals, who see Scotty's Landing

as a Coconut Grove icon, happy instead of frustrated.

As it

stands now, they're looking to replace Scotty's Landing, a beloved

waterfront burger joint that makes dogs and people happy, with a

newer burger joint. And they're looking to replace Chart House, a pretty if somewhat soulless place to spend anniversaries and Mother's Day, with

another lovely yet generic restaurant. Doesn't sound like a winning plan.

I'm not surprised this is happening. But I am

saddened. How many times have I met friends at Scotty's Landing for

some fish dip and a beer? Why is the place so lovable? It could be

the killer view of the marina, the cold brew served in mugs,

the friendly conversation by tourists and locals alike, the bands

playing under a giant tree, or the joint's character. It's

comfortable. Yes, it's a little shabby. But who wants to put

on heels or slacks just to grab a beer? 

I love Scotty's

Landing, and I'll try to be there tomorrow at the public meeting to hear the

special committee give its recommendations to City Manager Johnny

Martinez. It'll take place at the MDC City Managers Office (444 SW

Second Ave.) in the first floor cafeteria. The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. I

encourage everyone concerned to attend. Then, because tomorrow is Friday, let's

all meet for a beer at Scotty's Landing.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss