Sometimes a restaurant closing can mean more than losing access to a favorite dish. This year, Miamians lost an iconic discount meat market; an inventive outdoor food hall and music venue; a fusion restaurant that revitalized a whole street; and an Italian market that catered to the stars of yesteryear. Here are the closings that hit hardest in 2019.
Would you head all the way to the suburbs for a five-star meal? For seven years in Kendall, Barley: An American Brasserie served a hearty menu of pork, cheese, beer, and iconic ham-and-cheese croquettes courtesy of chef Jorgie Ramos. The comfort food earned the place fans, and Ramos even won the 2018 South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash, but the restaurant's lease ran out, and he decided to call it quits. The place will be fondly remembered, not just for the food, but for opening Dadeland's door to spots such as Ghee Indian Kitchen and Harry's Pizzeria. Ramos, meanwhile, continues with his bar, Abi Maria, and plans to open a different concept where Barley once stood.
Thankfully, visitors to the W South Beach did not find pickled herring and bitterballen at the Dutch. Instead, they were treated to renowned New York chef Andrew Carmellini's skillful take on New American cuisine. After eight years, however, Carmellini decided to bow out, and the hotel rebranded the space as the Restaurant at W South Beach (RWSB). The closure sparked speculation that the era of the celebrity chef in Miami might be coming to an end as local talent rises to prominence.
Laurenzo's Italian Market
When the Laurenzo brothers, Ben and Achilles, opened an Italian market in 1951, they probably had no idea it would become iconic. During the Beach's 1950s boom, Italian-American stars such as Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren would visit for a taste of home. Ben continued to work in the shop for the rest of his life and eventually asked the next generation to take over before he passed away in January 2018. A year and a half later, the kids decided to close the place after 69 years, but the family name lives on at Laurenzo's Farmers Market in North Miami Beach.
No Name Chinese
This popular South Miami Asian spot run by Colombian chef Pablo Zitzmann and Uvaggio Wine Bar owners Heath Porter and Craig DeWald seemed to have all the makings of a local favorite. A New Times review noted the spot's clever takes on dim sum and takeout favorites, all without any identification on the restaurant's exterior. Then, in May, it was gone. Some saw the placement of a sign out front, ruining the in-joke in the restaurant's name, as the beginning of the end. The run lasted around two years. Zitzmann, meanwhile, has been considering opening a Colombian restaurant.
Penn Dutch, the meat and seafood market chain with two South Florida locations, was loved by frugal shoppers but was found to be lacking in sanitariness. In September, state inspectors found the bacteria listeria inside Penn Dutch's Hollywood location. Another inspection found the same contamination at the Margate store, leading both locations to close permanently. Still, Penn Dutch was a local favorite for selling quality food at unbeatable prices, and diving into the cramped, crowded aisles there was something of an experience when compared to the antiseptic, pristine Publix treatment.
Brickell was a very different place when Steven J. Perricone opened his Italian restaurant and market in the growing neighborhood. Now the skyscrapers outnumber his comparatively tiny place, so he sold the building to a hotel chain, CitizenM, and will soon open a larger location at 1700 SW Third Ave. In the interim, fans of the eatery's cioppino can order from Perricone's on Uber Eats, Postmates, and Grubhub.
Pubbelly Noodle Bar
The flagship of Jose Mendin's Pubbelly empire closed this year, but not because it failed. On the contrary, after a grease-trap issue came up at the 20th Street spot, management decided to close the noodle bar and merge its menu of ramen, dumplings, and bao buns into that of Pubbelly Sushi while Mendin concnetrates on Moloko, his new restaurant in Paris' Pigalle district. Pubbelly Sushi boasts six locations worldwide (three of which are in South Florida) and has plans to expand, while Mendin is set to open his first Fort Lauderdale restaurant, Rivertail, this week.
It felt like this Lincoln Road fusion joint would be around forever, but, alas, it was not to be. SushiSamba's owners decided not to renew the lease on their sole remaining Miami location earlier this year. The lively spot leaves behind a menu of Japanese-Brazilian favorites and a legacy as one of the forces behind Lincoln Road's revitalization in the 2000s. Every carnival must end sometime.
Taking its name from the brightly colored buses used extensively in Haiti, this venerable Miami Beach establishment was the cornerstone of the local Haitian community for 24 years. Tap Tap earned comparisons to Versailles in both its Caribbean cuisine — fried pork and plantains, red beans and rice — and its impact on the immigrant community that relied on it. Haitians came to Tap Tap for the food, but also for music, for culture in its upstairs theater space, and for heated political debates. Owner Katherine Kean was forced to close shop early this year due to health issues and construction next door. She hopes to continue using the space for events, but fans of Haitian food will have to get their griot elsewhere.
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The Wynwood Yard
Considered the heart of the Wynwood Arts District, the Wynwood Yard, famous for its marketplace of food vendors and its live music — massive stars such as Shakira and Coldplay's Chris Martin occasionally popped in — fell, ironically, to gentrification. The Yard and its neighbor O Cinema were bought to make space for a development called Wynwood Green. Not all is lost, however: The Yard's management plans to open a new location in Doral, offering a mini food hall, full-service restaurant, and other concepts, next year.