Norman's 180 Closed ... Three Months Ago! (And Nobody Noticed)

Maybe the news got past me because I was out of town...or just out of the loop. Or maybe Norman's 180 was such a nonentity in the local dining scene that nobody noticed that it was gone.

But not only is it no more, but according to Shane, a front desk worker at The Westin Colonnade that housed the restaurant, Norman's 180 closed "about three months ago." In its place is something called 1862. I asked what kind of restaurant 1862 was.

"You mean what kind of food does it serve?" Shane asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"It's more of a bar and lounge" he answered.

In fact, it is the 1862 Bacardi Lounge.

So there you have it: Norman's 180 goes down as one of the biggest busts in Miami restaurant history.

Firstly, it was pre-hyped for over a year by Norman and the food media. Then once it opened it was really hyped as Norman's triumphant return to the Gables -- and his son Justin's first co-starring role as chef.

Norman and Justin left the business almost as soon as it opened. The management team of Norman's 180 denied they left, and continued to deny it until -- well, until it went out of business. Evidently they tried to keep the restaurant closing a secret too (and did a pretty good job of it). Norman's 180 opened last June 29 and folded in early June of this year.

Norman never made a statement saying he left the business; he simply erased mention of it from his website. We still don't know what happened between Van Aken and the ownership, but it probably wasn't pretty.

Still, when people are paying top dollar to eat in a star-chef-driven-restaurant with chef's name in the moniker, it is incumbent upon both chef and ownership team to let the public know when he is no longer there. That never happened, much to the discredit of all involved.

We'll let that stand as the epitaph for this ill-fated and ultimately deceitful project.

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