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.