One month ago, after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez gave restaurants the green light to reopen their dining rooms, Cafe La Trova reopened its doors on SW Eighth Street in Miami.
Yesterday Cafe La Trova posted a message on its Facebook page, announcing the restaurant was closing again — for now.
"As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Florida, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close our doors once again for on-premise dining as of today, June 29, 2020," the announcement reads. "While none of our employees or guests have shown symptoms nor tested positive (to our knowledge) and despite our team’s significant efforts to strictly follow social distancing and CDC guidelines, the health and safety of our employees and patrons has become too great of a concern to continue offering dine-in services under the circumstances. We are planning something new and exciting to bring the Café La Trova experience safely into your home, so please sign up for our newsletter and follow along on our social media to be the first to hear more about it! We hope to welcome you back soon. In the meantime, please stay safe!"
Partner David Martinez tells New Times that the restaurant will reopen, complete with Julio Cabrera's cocktail program and Michelle Bernstein's menu. Closing La Trova's doors for now made sense financially and from a safety standpoint, Martinez explains.
"Right now we are in survival mode. My partners and I talked extensively to figure out how do we come out ahead in the long run."
Martinez says the health and safety of staff and patrons was the deciding factor.
"I want to make it clear that no one was sick at the restaurant, but COVID-19 cases keep rising in Miami. And even with all the protocols in place, we felt like we were putting our staff and customers more at risk by staying open."
But Martinez is straightforward about the economic reality: Keeping the restaurant open cost more than staying closed. "We gave it a shot, but people were apprehensive to go out," he says. "La Trova is an experience as well as a restaurant. We have musicians full-time. We make a lot of revenue from the bar — which wasn't open."
Martinez emphasizes that while the closure is only temporary, it's open-ended. "It could be three more weeks," he says. "It could be three months."
Martinez notes that reopening guidelines vary from municipality to municipality, which makes reopening that much more daunting. "From the state to the local level, it's hard to keep track. Which mayor is calling the shots? It's been confusing and frustrating. Restaurant owners have chat groups to try and answer each other's questions," he says. But he's quick to add that navigating a pandemic isn't any easier for government officials than it is for business owners.
Martinez is also a partner in Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company, and he says the Miami Beach establishment, which has a more casual ambiance and more of a neighborhood-bar feel, is thriving after reopening. The beaches are closed again as the Fourth of July weekend nears, but as Martinez points out, visitors still have to eat. "There are still hotels that are open and we're open late," he says. "That helps."
As for Cafe La Trova, Martinez says he, Bernstein, Cabrera, and the other partners are determined to open again — this time for good. "We're working a few different experiences to try to bring La Trova into your home this July," he says. "We're keeping a close eye on the situation."
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