When Pearline Murray opened Clive's Café in Wynwood 38 years ago, the budding neighborhood was much more working-class than mustached hipster. For nearly four decades, Murray and partner/sister Gloria Chin have witnessed the rise of the Shops at Midtown Miami, the success of Amir Ben-Zion's Bardot and Gigi, and the highfalutin craze of December's annual Art Basel.
But the iconic cash-only Jamaican lunch spot -- well known for its rice 'n' peas, oxtail, jerk chicken, and curried goat -- will shutter March 30.
Its closure, Murray says, isn't by choice.
"Our lease was up last year. When we asked for a renewal, our landlord said they are going to remodel the building and bring it up to code with other stuff in the area," she says. "I don't know what they are going to do. But they need it. It's their investment."
In April, the sisters will merge with Clive's Cafe II, the restaurant's second outpost, at 5890 NW Second Ave. in Little Haiti. Although Clive's fare will still be available elsewhere, its closure is a great loss for the area.
"The area has changed. All these people are coming over and building these new properties," Murray admits.
Wynwood's transformation from warehouse enclave to arts district began nearly a decade ago. In 2008, the debut of Joey's Italian Café launched the neighborhood as an up-and-coming destination for investors in the food-and-beverage industry. In the past five years, Panther Coffee, the Electric Pickle, Wood Tavern, and others have transformed the quarter into an artistic haven for the young and hip.
Despite the success and quality of these bars and coffee shops, the neighborhood continues to lack excellent restaurants. Joey's, Wynwood Kitchen, Bloom, and Pride & Joy are sometimes good. Often times, though, they are not.
The food in Wynwood is best at places such as Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop, home to a delectable pan con bistec, and Clive's Café, one of the best Jamaican restaurants in town. With the latter closing, the area's epicurean scene is beginning to look rather unexceptional.
"We've had our ups and downs, but I've had good days here," Murray says. "I'm not mad at [our landlord]. I can see what's going on."
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.
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