Food Industry

Zika Prompts Wynwood Restaurants to Take Precautions

In light of the 14 reported cases of Zika and an official CDC warning for pregnant women to steer clear of Wynwood, local businesses are feeling the heat — and taking whatever precautions needed to keep the virus-carrying mosquitoes at bay.

CDC and City of Miami officials are visiting commercial and residential properties in the "affected area just north of downtown" — which encompasses Wynwood, midtown, and Edgewater — to educate residents and business owners about some practical methods of controlling the pests, including draining standing water.

Wynwood Yard founder and CEO Della Heiman has decided to close her culinary incubator and entertainment site for a day or so to assess the situation. According to a statement released earlier, the Yard is closed "in an abundance of caution, until we have more information, in order to make sure we are providing the most comfortable and secure environment we possibly can to our team and guests."  
A spokesperson for the Wynwood Yard confirmed that the venue, along with its food trucks and Mortar & Pistil bar, are closed today. An essential-oils class, planned for today, will be rescheduled, along with the untimely named Naked Bite class, which is rescheduled for August 31. The venue is expected to reopen tomorrow. Heiman has already been taking the precautions recommended by the CDC, but because the Wynwood Yard is 100 percent outdoors, she decided to close until she has more information. "Ethically, the well-being of the team and guests is more important than business."

Other restaurants are also taking steps to protect patrons. Beaker & Gray, for instance, has closed the giant glass windows that span the length of the Wynwood eatery and bar.

It should be noted, however, that the CDC states that "many people who get infected never have symptoms. In people who get sick, symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes) are usually mild and resolve completely." In other words, wear long-sleeved pants and shirts and apply mosquito repellent, but don't panic.

Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties; and Joseph Furst, chairman of the Wynwood Business Improvement District, issued the following statement about the virus:
“The spread of Zika is of concern to everyone worldwide. The community of Wynwood will do whatever is necessary to be vigilant in our prevention and will follow the guidelines outlined by the Florida Department of Health. Wynwood's restaurants, galleries, retailers, and art-filled streets remain open for business."
Or take the advice of Scott Linquist from Coyo Taco. "Read the CDC report and educate yourself. Then go on with your lives. Wynwood is still one of the top areas of Miami that you should visit."
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss