It looks like another restaurant has fallen prey to Miami Beach's horrific road construction. Soho Bay, which opened about three months ago, has closed temporarily.
The restaurant, which happens to be the first United States location of a popular Brazilian chain founded in 1998, opened inside the Bentley Bay, featuring gorgeous bay views and a modern-Asian-inspired menu by chef Ricky Sauri.
Last week, Sauri and his staff were busy making plans for a busy Miami Spice season. Now the restaurant has been forced to close temporarily.
Soho Bay's general manager, Max Heindl, explains why last evening's service was the final for at least two months. "Right now, I don't even have a street. There's no access to the restaurant whatsoever because of the construction."
Heindl says that when the City of Miami Beach issued the restaurant license six months ago, it didn't come with a warning that the streets would be completely torn up. "This is horrible for us. I'm not new to the city, and I understand that improvements have to be made, but when I got a license six months ago, they didn't say they were going to do this. This kind of construction isn't planned overnight. We are completely boxed in," he says. "I understand this has to be done, but giving me two options — stay open and have no way for customers to come to the restaurant, and closing up — are not two options. That's like putting a gun to my head."
During his interview with New Times, Heindl even describes a massive bulldozer trying to navigate the restaurant's driveway. "Making a long story short — we can't stay open if no one can get here. Right now, we have a sidewalk, but even that is scheduled to be torn down and raised."
Though many restaurants plan to eventually reopen but then never return, Heindl emphatically says Soho Bay will come back from this snafu. "There is no question about it," he says.
In addition, the staff remains on call while Heindl looks for a temporary space to open the restaurant. "As soon as I found out about the construction and the imminent closure, I told the staff. We're looking for catering work or a pop-up space, mostly so people can work. We're trying to find something so that everyone will have a paycheck at the end of the day," he says.
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Executive chef Ricky Sauri also will remain with Soho Bay while the restaurant is on hiatus. "We have invested in him, and he has invested with us," Heindl says.
This isn't the first time that local businesses have been burdened by Miami Beach's urban planning. Alton Road's construction contributed to the demise of many restaurants last year, including Umami Burger and Bernie's L.A. Cafe, and Chef Bee's NaiYaRa opening in Sunset Harbour is delayed in part due to street closures.