Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coconut Grove Is Not a Spot for Nightlife

This is in response to a post I read today over at Coconut Grove Grapevine

I hate to break it to ya, Grape, but the days of the Grove being popular for nightlife are numbered.  It wouldn't matter if the City told every business they could be open until 5am.  It's too late.  Time to focus on something else.  Mo's may have gotten their 5am license back but when was the last time you went to that place?  I hate to be harsh but...it's a dump.  The leather chairs are ripped with stuffing coming out, there's dust EVERYWHERE (look at the A/C vents next time you're there and try not to puke), and the food is, well, let's just say "not good". I think they finally updated some of the TVs that were so old many didnt even have color anymore but they still don't get a crowd for football on Sundays.  That's saying something.  I'm sorry but that's not a place I get excited about spending my hard-earned money at.  To think that 5am closing is going to revitalize the Grove is just plain silly.  Had it never been taken away, maybe things would be different.  But change was made and people adapt to change.  Adapting meant finding somewhere else to enjoy a late night if that is your thing.

The Grove was a happenin' spot for awhile but between the loss of the late nights and the development of South Miami, people have adapted and moved on.  The main nightlife crowd for the Grove was always the college kids from UM.  When I first moved to Miami, I lived in South Miami and couldn't believe that the area didn't cater to college kids located right across US1.  Those kids would come to the Grove to have fun but they'd have to drive, cab, or bus it.  I would do that too as I was only a few years out of college.  Now those college kids can literally walk to bars, restaurants, and clubs in South Miami.  It's far more convenient.

I moved to the Grove 8 years ago because I really liked the laid back vibe and the abundance of vegetation amongst the streets surrounding Center Grove.  There were some cool spots to hang out at, most notably Cafe Tu Tu Tango which I felt did the best job at capturing the spirit of the Grove - the laid back lifestyle, friendliness, funky art, and casual fun of it.  In fact, that's the first place I would take visitors from out of town to get a feel for my Miami neighborhood.  Well, I watched as that space plummeted downhill in terms of the building (during its last CG Arts Festival there were parts of the wooden floor that you would sink into when you walked!!) and soon they were forced to vacate.  Between rising real estate costs and the decline of visitors to the Grove (for multiple reasons, lots of which have to do with the progress of other neighborhoods like S. Miami, Brickell, and the DD/Wynwood area), plus a down economy, the Grove dwindled away.

In the past year or so, I think that there's been a little pickup of activity thanks to some nice events at Peacock Park, parades, etc.  The momentum that these events provide only lasts for a few days and then it's back to the current situation of struggling businesses and many empty storefronts. 

I actually saw a commercial for the Grove on TV last week.  It said, "Why is the Grove so cool?"  I laughed, not because the Grove isn't cool in it's own way, but because the ad was pretty cheesy.  I think the main challenge is figuring out what makes the Grove DIFFERENT.  Late night bars and clubs are a "me too" and, quite frankly, they don't really fit the neighborhood outside of what currently exists.  What I like about the Grove is being outside, seeing the waterfront, clean streets.  There's a few decent spots to eat - Jaguar, Le Bouchon, Sandbar (for tacos and fries and football).  I think being part of the outdoors and the waterfront needs to be played up.  There's this Waterfront Master Plan that is supposed to be a game changer to our waterfront on Biscayne Bay but all I know is that the developers and resident groups are still battling about what is to be done.

Regardless of what happens to the waterfront plan, nightlife is not the answer.  There have been plenty of spots who have tried and failed - Burgundy Room, Central Beer Garden, Central Sushi, just to name a few of the more recent casualties.  The new spot at the Mayfair that wants to do bottle service will likely be the next victim.  Nightlife in terms of bars and clubs are square pegs and the Grove is a round hole.  They just don't fit.

12 comments:

Agreed said...

The beer garden and sushi place are closed already? I kept meaning to go try them out. I guess I always came up with 'better' places to go.

Anonymous said...

Didn't miss much - they both sucked hard. Beer place had no beer, sushi place was meh.

john said...

The Grove will be the best place to live in Florida! A little time and planning is all that is needed. First, the crash in housing has hurt some great people. We need to set up housing co op for teachers and artists to return home. John Arcuri

Anonymous said...

WE need our nightlife back. THE GROVE IS DEAD. There is no real bar no music no dancing just the same old restaurants I rmeber the day when the grove was ALIVE. Steve needs to go.
The Grove is not a retirement location. Nightlife does fit it is Steve that does not fit. What is your issue with a 5am license if you are so sure that nothing will happen then Businesses that want it should be allowed to get it. It seems that Steve is scared or has something in the works for his own intention.

SteveBM said...

@John - yes, the Grove is a great place to live and just needs some time and the right plan to improve. The plan should include everyone though, not just artists and teachers.

@Anon - I'm assuming this is "Sledge" aka Carlos Iglesia because you made a similar comment on the Grapevine blog. Put down the crime novel, Nancy Drew. There is no conspiracy. You can have all the 5am licenses in the world in the Grove and it won't make one bit of difference. Get over it and move on, pal.

Anonymous said...

STEVE, really grow up with the little name calling "Nancy Drew" you want to blog then take the criticism. And by the way I am not aka Carlos Iglesia. Well this makes another person not on your side. All this is about if a business has a 5am liquor license then they should be allowed to use it. Regardless of whether you think it will help or not. It is not for you to say what will work and what will not work. As for Mayfair Villa I wish them great success .

SteveBM said...

Dear Nancy Drew,

This has nothing to do with taking criticism. You assumed there was some sort of conspiracy based on my opinion, then you cried like a baby that I should leave town because I was either scared or wanted to live in a retirement community. Gee, you really busted the case wide open, Nancy Drew! I'm of the opinion that clubs don't work in the Grove and I base that off of FACT. You, on the other hand, cry like a little baby about 5am liquor licenses when you probably don't even go out until 5am anyways. You want all these bars and clubs but clearly you don't support them because they have all closed. Even if you do support them when they are open, it's clear no one else does because, again, they are all closed. So, I guess that makes you a loser. Ooh, more name calling! I guess you can go cry in a corner now you fuckin muppet.

silver said...

What do you think of grapevine's idea of an Apple store?
Seems to contradict what he always says about supporting small local businesses but maybe it is something that would get people to come into the neighborhood.
Guess the issue is if those people whould stay.
But not sure that those people are the same ones being targeted by the 5 am closing times though.

SteveBM said...

Good question, silver. Thanks for contributing positively to the discussion. I've always thought an Apple Store would be good for the Grove. There are a lot of "techies" in the area as well as ad agencies. Plus younger kids frequent the area and hang at Mayfair. The question is - is it feasible? The parking situation would need to improve. I've always said that there is plenty of parking in the Grove but the issue is not with availability but with fair pricing. Many of the lots gouge the consumer an force them into a flat rate to park. It'd be a lot more inviting and manageable if more of the lots were by-the-hour parking with those electronic meters so consumers had the option. I find people will walk a bit and not think about it if parking is a manageable price. Something like an Apple Store is sure to attract a greater crowd. As of today, if you live in the Grove or Gables you have to drive to Lincoln Road on Miami Beach or to the Dadeland Mall to go to the Apple Store. I'd venture to say that a significant amount of people in the Grove/Gables area have or use Apple products so a store in the area would have a good shot at success. But for it to be a success I think you need feasible parking. Right now, downtown is being groomed for growth with condos selling and plans for a mall on the way. Between the growth in population and the businesses in the area, it may be more attractive to a company like Apple to set up a store.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree...I think the Grove is amazing!! So many great bars and restaurants...recently discovered Villa Mayfair..very nice high-end restaurant and bar...I suggest checking it out!
http://villa-mayfair.com/home/

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