South Beachites, don't panic. Despite Chrysanthemum's darkened quarters and restaurant-for-sale sign on the front door, the Beach's finest flower has not dropped its petals. Rather the gourmet Chinese eatery has moved to Coconut Grove. Despite a very successful run on Washington Avenue, the owners chose not to renew their lease. Now located on Grand Avenue in the Streets of Mayfair (next to Oak Feed), Chrysanthemum is busier than ever in its new digs, and the tourists are, well, digging it. The question still remains for Miami-Dade residents: Is Coconut Grove a step up -- or down -- from South Beach? It does look as if Molina's, the Cuban-Continental eatery in North Miami, may be on permanent vacation, though; the lights remain off and the phone goes answered. La Fontaine, a French bistro in the Grove, has disconnected its phone, an out-of-biz sign as glaring as restaurant for lease. Fortunately to counter these and other closures, some eateries have launched or will open during the doldrums to come: Don Quixote, a project whose costs are said to approach the four-million-dollar mark, has practically taken over Commodore Plaza. Las Culebrinas, whose reputation as a quality Cuban restaurant is firmly established, will soon debut its second location in the former Las Rias Gallegas II spot in the Grove. The word on Imlee, a new Indian bistro in Pinecrest, is hot -- as in ultraspicy. And former La Paloma veterans are offering folks some northern European hospitality at Chalet Utopia on the 79th Street Causeway.Myths debunked: This town is a hotbed of gossip during the summer, but don't take much of it to heart. Among the juicier bits you'll hear: Mark's South Beach is moving out of its Nash Hotel location and into the old Groove Jet groove. Absolutely not true, says chef-proprietor Mark Militello. And the Westside Diner, rumored to be doing poorly, actually has turned the corner, reports owner Jonathan Eismann. The latter will have some competition, however, via neighbor Paul's Diner, which just opened in the former Bagelry space. How much competition is uncertain; owing to a large number of menu misspellings -- spaghetty with meat sauce, poltabello mushrooms, and marinato sauce -- customers may have a difficult time figuring out what to order.
More Mayya reactions are coming in. Via the Internet one e-mailer insists the reason why the eatery went out isn't as complicated as I made it sound. People just don't like getting ripped off, he comments. Plus, diners in Miami can't understand Mexican regional cuisine. Another correspondent, a former employee at Yuca and Mayya, claims one partner is a hot-tempered man and the other doesn't know the first thing about restaurants (not even how to eat in one). Ouch. And for the record, restaurateur Eismann tells me you can't even open a modest place these days for $250,000, not even a diner....
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Send your tasty tidbits to Jen Karetnick at 2800 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137. Or e-mail Kavetchnik@aol.com