Soon we Miamians will be able to park our ever-rounder, ever-tanner culos in a seat where no human being has ever sat before -- at La Camaronera.
Owner David Garcia, whose family has run the Flagler Street fish institution for nearly 40 years, says the restaurant has taken over an adjoining space and will bust through the wall late Tuesday night. Fish freaks, fret not. La Camaronera will be open throughout construction but will close at 4 p.m. Tuesdays.
For the much-loved standing-only space that serves fresh fried pan con minutas, sopa de chierna, y ostiones fritos, it was time.
"We've kept the same look for 30-plus years," says Garcia, who also notes that their restaurant's corresponding food truck, the Fish Box, is on summer vacation. "We've always had these Formica counters -- we're not going granite -- but I think it's sometimes good to put a little bit more into your business."
The blue-and-orange counter will remain for those with strong legs and an unwavering attachment to the past.
The restaurant will add a few tables and chairs and will remodel the bathrooms. Garcia declined to reveal the amount of money they're spending on the overhaul, but has happily showed off some of the family's beloved fish sandwiches and dishes on the Food Network and the Travel Channel.
Perhaps we have the Food Network to thank for this leap forward. But before you turn your nose up too high at the butt of all food jokes, turn it toward the nearby Marlins Park, which also takes some credit for some of the restaurant's success.
"We hope to be open until later on, until 8 or 9 p.m.," Garcia says. "We've drawn a lot of customers that come in before the Marlins games, and we'd like to keep seeing that."
Many denizens might bemoan the quasi-gentrification of this classic hole-in-the-wall eatery, but it seems, according to Garcia, it will be for the best.
"The tile has been here for 20-plus years," he adds. "We put in a new fish display four years ago, and the fish display before that was here since 1974.
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Last, respect your elders.
Garcia says that sometimes "customers... who have been coming for 30 years love to come with two or three generations but can't because they can't stand" the entire time.
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