In 2017, Miami gained some fine eateries but also lost some of its most beloved, including three markets that were iconic institutions for people who like to eat outside the box.
The reasons behind the closures ranged from retirement to Hurricane Irma to rising rent in a city where the real-estate market is relentless.
Epicure Market closed its remaining two locations, leaving Miamians scrambling for places to find prepackaged gourmet items. Likewise, the shuttering of Japanese Market and Sushi Deli left holes in the hearts of locals wanting pristine sushi. Stephen Starr's the Continental thrives in the City of Brotherly Love, but the retro-themed restaurant didn't fare as well in Miami Beach. And before Miami became home to several craft breweries, World of Beer was one of the few places to get a proper selection of suds. All of the store's Miami-Dade locations closed this year.
Here are the establishments we'll miss most and the stories behind the closings.
1. South Beach's Epicure Market Closes Forever. Epicure Market, a Miami Beach tradition since 1945, has closed for good thanks to Hurricane Irma. In a tweet, the South Beach grocery/prepared-foods specialty store announced its days are done. The store at 1656 Alton Rd. opened as a butcher shop and then expanded with an onsite bakery, cheese department, wine cellar, and a chef who catered about a million holiday meals. Epicure expanded to Sunny Isles Beach with a full-service restaurant in 2008. Though the store took Best Bakery and Best Prepared Food honors in 2014 from New Times, it struggled recently, and the Sunny Isles Beach location at 17190 Collins Ave. closed. Epicure also briefly had a location on Le Jeune Road.
2. Gigi Closes After Employees Cite Nonpayment of Back Wages. On what should have been a busy Thursday dinner service, Gigi was dark and the doors were closed. There was life outside the establishment, however, as nearly a dozen employees gathered to commiserate about the fact they would henceforth likely not have a job. The staff at the midtown Miami restaurant, which is famous for its noodles and buns, walked out after a change in ownership convinced them they wouldn't get the back pay owed to them. That incident led to a standoff between ownership and staff, with employees refusing to work and the owners not opening for the night, according to workers.
3. World of Beer in Dadeland Closes. World of Beer (WoB) Dadeland permanently closed Tuesday after more than five years in business, according to an announcement the bar posted on Instagram. It was the last WoB in Miami-Dade and the third to shutter this year. The other two, located in midtown Miami and West Kendall, closed in May and July.
4. Stephen Starr's Retro Foray Onto South Beach, the Continental, Has Closed. Stephen Starr's the Continental, a retro oasis tucked into the revamped Ankara Motel, has shuttered, according to Philly.com. The Philadelphia restaurateur confirmed his Miami Beach location closed. "I think it’s the location," Starr said. "It was challenging getting people to come that were locals."
5. Japanese Market and Sushi Deli Close After Nearly Four Decades in Business. After 37 years, Michio Kushi's Japanese Market and beloved Sushi Deli will close. Asked in the middle of a jam-packed lunch service about the closure, Kushi throws up both hands, including the one brandishing a glinting knife, and proclaims "finally" with a wide grin. The modern age hasn't sat well with the paper-hatted itamae.
6. Scott Linquist's Olla Quietly Closed. Olla, Scott Linqust's salute to his love of Mexican cuisine, quietly closed after dinner service and held a party for its employees. Linquist, however, didn't make it to the fete. "I already said my goodbyes to the staff. They were wonderful. Last evening was for them, but it's always hard closing a restaurant."
7. Izzy's Fish & Oyster Closes in Miami Beach, Opens in Fort Myers. Izzy's Fish & Oyster, Jamie DeRosa's ode to New England seafood houses, has closed. The restaurant, located in Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood, was open for a little less than two years. DeRosa's other restaurant, Tongue & Cheek, closed in fall 2015 after a two-year run. It was located just a few doors down from Izzy's. Though South of Fifth is considered the more residential part of South Beach, both restaurants didn't get enough traffic to remain afloat, DeRosa says. "The north end at South of Fifth struggles to have an identity at times. The high-rise buildings are more vacant year-round, and Fifth Street still belongs to the tourists visiting and leaving the beach." DeRosa also cited the lack of affordable parking and foot traffic as additional roadblocks.
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8. River Yacht Club and Dashi Close Indefinitely After Hurricane Irma Damage. Hurricane Irma has left a few casualties in her wake. First, there was the permanent closure of Miami Beach's Epicure Market, which in a tweet blamed the storm. Now River Yacht Club and Dashi have closed indefinitely. Management issued the following statement: "Due to serious damage incurred from the effects of Hurricane Irma, River Yacht Club and Dashi on the Miami River will be temporarily closed. Ensuring the safety of its guests and employees is of the utmost importance to ownership, and plans are in place to begin work as soon as possible. During the closure, the restaurant will undergo major repairs with a to-be-announced date of grand reopening."
9. Maguires Hill 16 Closing After Five Decades in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Maguires Hill 16, Fort Lauderdale's classic Irish bar, is scheduled to close Sunday night after 50 years in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The haunt that draws hordes every St. Patrick's Day and has been home to thousands of lovers, haters, fighters, and geniuses has been purchased by a hospitality group, owner Jim Gregory says. "It's time to move on," he says. "I am 77 years old, and I have been doing this since 1999."
10. Second Spring Chicken Shutters in South Beach. Restaurant magnate John Kunkel had an amazingly successful run. He opened Lime Fresh Mexican Grill 13 years ago and then, after expanding it to 16 restaurants, sold the whole operation for an impressive $24 million to Ruby Tuesday in 2012. He also opened South Beach's Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in 2011. The restaurant, known for its fried chicken and extensive bourbon selection, still commands long waits for coveted tables. And Kunkel opened Swine Southern Table & Bar, also a significant success, in Coral Gables.