Say it ain't so! Jumbo's, one of Miami's historic restaurants and historic landmarks, is closing for good. The Liberty City institution announced last week that it would shutter its doors. Bobby Flam, who became the manager of the restaurant in place of his father, Isadore, in 1966, has sold the restaurant, which sold shrimp, fried chicken, and conch 24 hours a day. The restaurant is now in the hands of a developer planning to build housing on the corner of NW Seventh Avenue and NW 75th Street.
Jumbo's was at the forefront of Miami's desegregation in the 1960s and also weathered the storm of the race riots in the 1980s. It has been part of Miami's changing times and culture. With its secured place in local civil rights history, Jumbo's will certainly live on in memory. But unfortunately, it's now joined the graveyard of other popular and historic Miami locales that have closed or changed hands. Here are five Miami institutions we've loved and lost.
5. Churchill's Pub
Churchill's Pub, a part of Little Haiti for 35 years and a place that made musicians and soccer-lovers feel welcome, changed owners after an undisclosed investor put in an offer to founder and then-owner Dave Daniels to buy the business.
Before it changed owners, Churchill's had faced its fair share of battles, such as its lunchtime operations curbing due to tons of road repairs in front of the pub and location fees for videos and movies going out the window. But even with these challenges, Daniels was able to keep Churchill's alfoat.
The pub is still putting on epic live music shows and soccer meet-ups, such as its FIFA World Cup 2014 events. When the deal went, Daniels stuck around to help with the transition, making sure that his influence will live on in the pub's future. Still, there's something ephemeral missing from the place without him at the helm.
To an outsider, South Beach restaurant Wolfie's has a complicated history. Even locals might be confused, because the South Beach location was just one of two Wolfie's establishments in town. Both Wolfie's and Wolfie's Rascal House in Sunny Isles Beach were owned by Wolfie Cohen, who came to Miami in 1932. Cohen opened several more restaurants in South Florida, making a name for himself in the area.
Wolfie's was known for its huge sandwiches and other deli treats and happily served Miami Beach until 2002. With the restaurant's classic New York-style fare, and history, including the patronage of politicians, celebrities such as Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle, and even Jewish mafioso Meyer Lanksy, many who grew up with the restaurant were sad to see it go when Cohen's restaurants were bought by Jerry's Famous Deli (hence the picture of Jerry's Famous Deli above). Most locals would argue that nothing could ever replace it.
3. Wolfie's Rascal House
The convoluted history of Wolfie Cohen's restaurants continues when Jerry's Famous Deli, Inc. acquired Wolfie's Rascal House in 1996. Before the acquisition, the Rascal House was carrying on the Wolfie's tradition of bringing Miami great deli food as well as awesome notoriety. The restaurant was mentioned in The Golden Girls and had a short cameo on Miami Vice. Let's not forget that the restaurant's sign was featured in the Bee Gee's "Night Fever" video.
Sadly, Wolfie's Rascal House closed in 2008, but before its closure, a Jerry's Famous Deli made its way to South Beach and served the similar New York-style deli food to those hoping for a Wolfie's fix for 14 years. Jerry's Famous Deli closed its doors this July, but while the restaurant might have said "Goodbye," some Miami's residents might have thought, "Good riddance." To many, Jerry's Famous Deli attempted to be a Wolfie's replacement, but the restaurant could never replace what Wolfie's Rascal House brought.
Lester's, a Wynwood cafe owned by Daniel Milewski, quickly became the favorite hangout for the trendy, well-read, culture-loving set. Within its short three years in business, Lester's became a big meeting place for literary groups like the University of Wynwood and was a mainstay for many of the young, cultured denizens in the area. (Or, as you might otherwise know them, hipsters.)
Sadly, Lester's closed in November of 2013. And while there are other cafes and hangout spots in Wynwood, such as Panther Coffee, nothing has yet taken the place of the artsy cafe. Lester's seemed to capture something intimate and comforting that other spots haven't fully achieved.
1. Clive's Cafe (Wynwood location)
The story of Clive's Cafe is not as sad as you might think. Clive's Cafe originally opened 39 years ago in Wynwood, back before the area became the artsy hotspot it is today. However, as Wynwood became an area primed for gentrification, many of the original businesses went away. Owner Pearline Murray was asked to leave in 2013.
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But Clive's Cafe wasn't down for the count. Murray combined the restaurant with her other location in Little Haiti, Clive's II. The new-and-improved Clive's Cafe is still serving up awesome Jamaican food to its loyal customers.
Yes, the change is tough. Seeing Jumbo's leave certainly changes the Miami eatery landscape in more ways than one. So let's give thanks for the memories Jumbo's has provided and, to paraphrase the old saying, let's give the establishments that are still holding it down after decades their flowers while they yet live.
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