COVID Risks Shut Down Two Iconic Outdoor Sports Bars

A (formerly) familiar scene: Drinks and football at the Clevelander.
A (formerly) familiar scene: Drinks and football at the Clevelander. Photo courtesy of the Clevelander
click to enlarge A (formerly) familiar scene: Drinks and football at the Clevelander. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CLEVELANDER
A (formerly) familiar scene: Drinks and football at the Clevelander.
Photo courtesy of the Clevelander
Two iconic Miami sports bars with large outdoor seating areas have temporarily closed owing to concerns about COVID-19.

The Clevelander, a landmark fixture on Miami Beach's Ocean Drive, closed its doors on Saturday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Real Deal website reported that a spokesperson for the hotel confirmed that one employee had tested positive and that there was "'concern there could be more.'"

A spokesperson for the Clevelander confirms that all aspects of the venue, including the hotel, restaurant, the Game On Sports Bar, C-LEVEL Rooftop Terrace, and SPF 4 Sun Deck are closed until further notice.

Management at the Clevelander issued the following statement:

"In an abundance of caution, due to public health concerns caused by the growing number of COVID-19 cases in South Florida, Clevelander South Beach will close until further notice. Given current conditions we simply cannot ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests, customers and team members, which remains our top priority. We are determined to get back to doing what we do best as soon as it is safe to do so. Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times and we cannot wait to welcome you all again very soon."

The Clevelander had reopened on June 5 for dine-in service and implemented a safety program, "Cleve Cares," that included social-distancing floor markings, cleaning guest rooms with hospital-grade disinfectants, hand-sanitizer stations, and a facemask requirement for staff and guests alike.

The Ocean Drive mainstay is as famous for its pool parties as it is for its sports bar, with large crowds gathering daily to drink and bask in the sun.
Photo courtesy of Shuckers Bar & Grill
Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill, a popular sports bar on the 79th Street Causeway, also cited COVID-19 as a reason to temporarily shut down.

The bar posted the following statement on social media:

"Due to public health concerns caused by COVID-19, we must regretfully inform you that we will be closed temporarily as we evaluate the current conditions. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times and we cannot wait to welcome you all again very soon. For further information, our dedicated team is standing by to answer any questions at (305) 866-1570."

New Times tried that phone number several times but there was no answer.

The closures come at a time when Florida is making headlines for its surge in new coronavirus cases. As of July 13, there were 282,435 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida. Miami-Dade led the state with 67,713 cases.

On July 9, indoor dining rooms at Miami-Dade restaurants were re-shuttered after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued an emergency order putting a stop to indoor dining. The mayor initially shut down outdoor seating as well but changed his mind at the last minute.

The Clevelander and Shuckers both have expansive areas for outdoor dining. The Clevelander's offers people-watching on Ocean Drive, while the patio at Shuckers is situated on the water.

There's no word on when either restaurant will reopen. They join other high-profile restaurants that opted to close temporarily in recent days.

On July 10, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District closed after one member of its back-of-house team tested positive for COVID-19. The restaurant posted on social media that "all employees who were in close contact with that team member will be tested and cleared before they return to work."

The following day, the restaurant posted that it had reopened "after a day of cleaning and sanitizing, and with a staff cleared for work based on protocols and guidelines."

A few weeks earlier, Kush by Spillover in Coconut Grove closed its doors after several employees came down with "flu-like" symptoms. The restaurant posted on Instagram that it intends to reopen "when every single employee tests negative and the building is fully sanitized."

The restaurant has since reopened for outdoor dining, delivery, and takeout. 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss