“It wasn’t the first time I have called. We are not opposed to a restaurant. What we are opposed to is a banquet facility that operates every night,” said Kronberg, 57. “They are already having more parties than they are supposed to. They were supposed to have four — exclusively to raise funds for the garden ... And they just had a party for a private law firm.”
Despite the opposition, the village has been in negotiations with restaurateur Lalo Durazno and lawyer Scott Silver, who formed a partnership for the venture. Durazno is known in Miami for his Peacock Garden Café and Jaguar in Coconut Grove and Talavera in Coral Gables. Silver converted the former Burger King World Headquarters in Palmetto Bay into a new Village Center, where social events are held. Their vision includes a Sunday brunch, as well as a five-course dinner for weddings.
“The size of the property needs a high volume operation in order to be profitable,” Durazno and Silver wrote in response to the village’s request for restaurant proposals.
That’s precisely what some residents fear.
The village has the financial means to absorb the gardens’ losses. The median value of a home in Pinecrest is $493,000, and residents pay the second-lowest tax rate in Miami-Dade County.
As of 2012, the village had spent about $24 million on the garden — including the $12 million used to buy the property and the $8.9 million used to help build a new library and community center, Galiano Gomez said. Donors have contributed an additional $7 million.
If the restaurant opens, it would generate at least $210,000, Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez said. It would be located in the 1937 coral rock building near the gardens’ entrance, that is known today as Cypress Hall. The 5,188-square-feet building once housed the Parrot Cafe, which opened its doors in 1954 and served breakfast and lunch — burgers, fries and milk shakes. It closed with Parrot Jungle.
“For the past two years, we have been moving cautiously ahead. First waiting for the economy to improve and then bringing in restaurant consultants to guide us,” Lerner said at her state of the village address last week. And she added that the opponents of the plan are a part of a “very vocal minority of neighbors who are working against the community’s best interest.”