South Florida residents who miss reading a newspaper while enjoying breakfast and a cup of coffee on the sidewalk outside News Cafe can do so once again.
The longtime South Beach sidewalk café and bar — known for helping to revitalize the area in the 1980s — officially reopened this week in its original location at the Tony Hotel South Beach after being closed for just over two years.
According to Jamil Dib, founder, and co-owner of Vida & Estilo — the restaurant group that now owns and operates News Cafe as well as Miami concepts Barsecco, Havana 1957, Cafe Americano, Paperfish, Marabú, and Oh Mexico — the goal was to breathe new life into the establishment while preserving the key elements that made it a Miami Beach mainstay.
"We had the honor of restoring the restaurant, and therefore a responsibility to its legacy, which we are confident the new concept pays homage to," says Dib. "This project is about Miami Beach and Ocean Drive, and part of our mission is to offer places that create and foster community, just as News Cafe did all these years."
The brainchild of restaurateur Mark Soyka, News Cafe opened in 1988 after relocating to South Florida from New York with friend and real estate developer Tony Goldman, founder of Goldman Properties.
Located at the corner of Eighth Street and Ocean Drive, it was one of the only restaurants in the Art Deco district at the time. The restaurant was part of a portfolio of Art Deco hotels and properties Goldman redeveloped to attract businesses to the neighborhood, a movement that helped to build the Ocean Drive we know today.
For nearly three decades, the 350-seat restaurant was a go-to destination for locals and tourists, including Gianni Versace, the Miami Beach resident who visited the restaurant daily.
Open 24 hours, it was known to serve up to five thousand patrons a day before it abruptly closed in January 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic. The property shuttered for 18 months before undergoing an extensive overhaul of the hotel rooms and rooftop pool.
In March 2022, Miamians rejoiced when news broke that News Cafe would reopen in the same space on the ground floor of the newly renamed Tony Hotel South Beach.
To bring the establishment into its latest incarnation, Dib said it was important to honor the essence of Soyka and Goldman's original vision.
Although the beloved South Beach establishment now boasts an elevated design and revamped Mediterranean-American menu, longtime customers will still be able to find several familiar elements, Dib tells New Times.
"You're going to feel like you're in New York — that ambiance Soyka and Goldman originally envisioned — and you're going to feel like it's still News Cafe, but with a few tweaks," Dib says.
There's also a bowl of tomatoes at the restaurant entrance, inspired by an old photograph. Those who visited the café during its early years might remember a similar one filled with the former owners' favorite variety, said to be displayed daily.
Diners can even sit at marble tables beneath the familiar green awning that shaded sidewalk-dining patrons since the '80s. The bar looks just as it did for the past few decades, now with fancy red barstools.
And, of course, the namesake newsstand — today dubbed the "Fashion Corner" — populated with News Cafe-branded souvenirs and the familiar selection of local, national, and international newspapers and magazines meant to be purchased by diners to read over a cup of coffee or a meal.
News Cafe has a few upgrades, most notably the QR-coded wall décor that tells the story of News Cafe and Miami Beach through the decades via vintage images from the restaurant's inception to the present day, along with framed portraits of '90s icons who frequented the establishment.
And when it comes to food, expect longtime favorites with a variety of modern items, adds Dib, who researched to determine the restaurant's best-sellers.
With the goal to once again open 24 hours a day, News Cafe will open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A nod to the original menu will offer dishes conceived by chef Henry Hané, founder of Brickell’s B Bistro, who remembers dining at the restaurant with his family every Friday growing up.
That means you can find his take on the original salmon omelet, Tony’s tomato soup, tuna melt, an Aegean-Mediterranean plate, and eggs Benedict while new additions bring a modern touch, from the piña colada pancakes with grilled pineapple and coconut syrup to a burger topped with a red wine demi sauce, smoked gouda, and caramelized onions.
An extensive beverage menu still offers shaken and frozen drinks, classics like piña coladas and daiquiris, alongside all-new cocktails, zero-proof libations, and creative coffee-based beverages.
The best part: many will be served in the old souvenir-style Hurricane glass sourced from the restaurant's original manufacturer, allowing guests to take home a spirited keepsake of both the old and "new" News Cafe.
"This project wasn't just to bring back a piece of history," sums up Dib. "We feel like it will also be a game changer, the signal that sends a message that Ocean Drive can be a cool place to hang out again. We have a few more surprises planned for the area, and it's our goal to create what we think of as a new American Riviera."
News Cafe. 800 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 786-644-6061; 8 a.m. to midnight daily; newscafesouthbeach.com.