News Cafe, a fixture on Ocean Drive since it was opened more than three decades ago by restaurateur Mark Soyka, is closed. The restaurant windows are boarded up, a chain barricades the front door, and the restaurant's website is down.
Its Instagram bio now bears a new tagline: "Temporarily Closed."
News of the restaurant's current status began circulating on social media yesterday; early yesterday evening, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora posted on his Facebook account a photo of the boarded-up façade and a note lamenting that the café had "shuttered." When a commenter asked him to clarify, he responded, "I believe it’s for good."
Others chimed in with disbelief, but News Cafe's social-media accounts remained silent.
Calls to Soyka's company went unanswered. A receptionist at Ocean's 10, whose management currently operates News Cafe, said the closure was only temporary. Goldman Properties, which owns the building, responded with a brief message: "Thank you for reaching out, but we actually don’t have any comment at the moment."
By early this afternoon, Góngora had updated his prior post with a correction and published a second post, which stated, "News Cafe has told me that they are only closed temporarily and will be back...stay tuned!"
In its heyday, News Cafe brought a taste of European café culture to South Beach.
Then a relative Miami Beach newcomer, Mark Soyka opened the café and newsstand in 1988 on what was then a sleepy oceanfront boulevard. (Soyka had moved down from New York with his friend, real estate developer Tony Goldman, of the aforementioned Goldman Properties.) Within a year, it was a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Expatriates from other countries would stop in daily to purchase a newspaper from their home country at the newsstand and stay to read it over breakfast.
The most famous of these daily patrons was fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was known to walk to the café each morning from his Ocean Drive mansion. (News Cafe made international headlines when serial killer Andrew Cunanan murdered Versace outside his villa on July 15, 1997; the designer was returning home from his daily stroll to News Cafe.)
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, News Cafe was as constant as the ocean across the boulevard. And like the tides, the café changed its scene multiple times a day. In the early morning, locals would stop in for a coffee. Afternoons saw sunburned tourists seeking a cold drink after a beach day. In the wee hours of the morning, clubgoers would visit to cap off a night of revelry.
The café has survived several hurricanes, not to mention changes in Ocean Drive's tastes and culture. It remains one of South Beach's few iconic establishments, alongside names like Joe's Stone Crab, the Clevelander, Mac's Club Deuce, and the Palace.
News Cafe. 800 Ocean Dr.,Miami Beach; 305-538-6397; newscafe.com.