Lime Fresh Mexican Returns to South Beach, Serving Original Menu Items at 2004 Prices

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill has reopened in its original location.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill has reopened in its original location. Courtesy of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is back in business in Miami Beach.

The local fast-casual restaurant chain that debuted in South Beach in 2004 has opened the doors to its eighth restaurant in the space once occupied by the chain's flagship, an 800-square-foot spot at 1439 Alton Rd.

Today the new Miami Beach Lime eatery is owned and operated by Left Field Holdings, a Florida-based franchisee that also owns four other Lime locations, including Downtown Dadeland, Doral, West Kendall, and an upcoming outpost in North Miami.

In 2012, Ruby Tuesday purchased Lime. Although Lime founder John Kunkel retained ownership of the original South Beach restaurant as part of the deal, he closed the iconic flagship several months later.

When it opened its doors in 2004, Lime represented Miami Beach's evolving food culture thanks to a commitment to using local vendors and serving health-conscious, fast-casual Mexican fare, says Grant Gussin, president of Left Field Holdings. For him, the decision to return Lime to South Beach was a long time coming and one that officially took shape when Kunkel's fast-casual Spring Chicken — the space's most recent tenant — closed in August.

"For years I'd been looking for a location to return to South Beach, but nothing had materialized," Gussin says. "The question we are asked most frequently at all of my locations is 'When is Lime coming back to the Beach?' I do believe everything happens for a reason and decided then to bring Lime back to where everything started."

To celebrate Lime's return to South Beach, the new restaurant will honor its roots by taking patrons on a trip back in time. From Sunday, March 5, through Sunday, March 18, the eatery will offer the brand's original 2004 menu and pricing.

That means you can get the signature Lime burrito for $6.59 — nearly $2 less than its current price — or a cup of tortilla soup for $2.75, a 75-cent savings.

"We decided to bring everything back to 2004 for a few weeks, and part of that meant bringing back the original pricing too," Gussin says. "It's a way to show our customers the value that we had then is still there. In 2004, a quesadilla cost $6.59, just 40 cents less than the regular-size quesadilla price option today. And fish tacos are still $3.50 apiece."

Throwback menu items available for a limited time include Lime's original firehouse jalapeños, fried cheese-stuffed jalapeños served with cilantro dipping sauce ($3.99); nachos, made with three tostadas topped with sour cream, jalapeños, pico de gallo, melted cheese, and a choice of meat ($5.19 to $7.08); and the mole burrito, a flour tortilla stuffed with rice, sour cream, melted cheese, and a choice of meat and smothered in a spicy mole sauce ($7.69).

Even the staff — some of whom are also original employees from Lime's early days — will wear the brand's first uniforms, while images from the past will be posted throughout the restaurant as a tribute to the people and events that defined Lime more than a decade ago.

"When Lime first opened, I was a customer, and what really stood out for me was the quality of the product and the way staff treated me like family," Gussin says. "Now guests will be able to enjoy a journey back in time to when Lime was first launched, in the original location that started it all."

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. 1439 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 786-420-5463; Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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