When Stephanie Vitori opened her second location of Cheeseburger Baby, on the corner of NE 79th Street and NE Second Avenue in August 2015, she envisioned a neighborhood on the brink of growth.
Three years later, Vitori is set to close the satellite location Sunday, December 30, after meal service.
"My heart was in this store, but I'm going to start the new year fresh," Vitori says of the decision. The owner of the retro-themed shop — which has seen celebrities such as Beyoncé and the late Anthony Bourdain chowing down on burgers — cites some major factors, such as a lack of street parking, last year's hurricane, and two years of road construction. But the main reason is simply the fact that the neighborhood hasn't come around as quickly as she had hoped.
The location, which straddles Little River and Little Haiti, is poised for renewal, with galleries and restaurants moving in, but the little cheeseburger stand relied heavily on foot traffic that just wasn't there. Vitori says she tried everything she could think of to make the second location work. "I did specials and combos that I normally wouldn't do. I utilized every delivery service: Uber Eats, Door Dash, Postmates, Amazon. But their commissions were high, and there's just so much you can charge for a burger. I didn't want to raise my prices."
Vitori still has faith in the neighborhood — so much so that she's keeping the property. "I'm doing this because the area is making strides." She plans to turn the burger place into a commissary for her business and will also invite other food truck owners to use the space. Eventually, she hopes to open another concept in the space. "We have some other future ideas in the air."
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Fans of the spot that New Times named best cheeseburger in 2003 can still grab a sandwich at the original South Beach location. Vitori says she's lucky that so many people love her burgers and that the closing of the Little River store is positive. "I'm just thankful that I've been around. I've had ups and downs: I survived hurricanes, recessions, and Fuddruckers opening on the same block as the South Beach store."
For now, Vitori's focus is on the South Beach flagship, her food truck, and catering operations, but she's open to any future endeavors. "It's all in the timing."
Speaking of timing: You still have a few days to grab a cheeseburger at the Little River location.
Cheeseburger Baby. 212 NE 79th St., Miami; 786-536-2933; cheeseburgerbaby.net.