30th Books & Books Anniversary Street Party: They Came, They Ate, They Gushed

The Facebook message said, "Here at Books & Books we're celebrating our 30th anniversary this Sat. (11/3/12) and everyone is invited to our street party." There were thousands of replies from people who had left a "will attend" message. Not surprisingly, since Books & Books has a very loyal fan base in South Florida. Founder Mitchell Kaplan decided to pull all the stops and partially close Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables for the shindig. Festivities started at 11 a.m. for the kids and continued throughout the day.

Starting at 7 p.m. Kaplan arranged to have gourmet food samples created by star chefs available for his numerous guests as well as drinks for everyone... for free! Chef Allen Susser who was overseeing the tasty event as well as preparing hors d'oeuvres said, "We were expecting about 2,000 people to stop by but we never expected to greet over 4000 people here tonight. It's a huge success and we think everyone really enjoyed themselves."

Chef Michelle Bernstein's assistant served a mix-salad while chef Bernie Matz of the Lincoln Rd. Books & Books had a difficult time keeping up with all of the guests who wanted to sample his ceviche. Chef Cindy Hutson of Ortanique prepared lamb and beef meatballs which were accompanied by an exotic salad. Steven Haas of City Hall gave out generous helpings of his signature chocolate pudding. Chef Abe Ng of Sushi Maki had plenty of sushi to go around. Also on hand:chefs Thomas Buckley and Norman Van Aken. Students of MDC Culinary Institute were helping hand out the goodies too. Chef Douglas Rodriguez was a no-show.

At 9 p.m. when the restaurants folded up shop and the crowds mostly dispersed, dj Max Torres took to the stage and spun hot tunes. Mitchell Kaplan was kissed by hundreds of admirers who gushed, hugged and complimented him all evening. He said, "Thank you South Florida writers & readers for keeping us open for 30 years!"

Kaplan is chair for the Miami Book Fair International which opens on November 11 and runs through the 18 in downtown Miami. If you missed him at his 30th, he'll be involved in many of the programs taking place at MDC during the fair, so if you do catch up with him congratulate him on his community efforts.

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