Seems the entrance policy for the new VIP section at Regal South Beach Stadium 18 — which serves alcohol and food — is creating headaches for movie-goers, including this columnist.
After recently purchasing two adults tickets online (via Fandango) to see The Big Short, I was denied admission because I didn’t have a driver’s license to prove I’m over 21. Seriously? I’m 57, with two children over the age of 21. I didn’t want to buy an alcoholic drink, just wanted to see the film I had already paid for.
I asked to speak with a manager, as did the couple — senior citizens — in front of me, who were experiencing the same problem. None of us got in, however, our money was refunded (minus the Fandango fee) and we received free tickets to another film in the theatre’s non-VIP section. The manager said the ID policy is in effect because “that is what the city is requiring the theater to do”.
I later spoke with Nick Green, Regal South Beach Entertainment Group General Manager, who said, “The problem is that it took the theater 13 years to get the liquor license. The company policy is part of our corporate office.” He refused to comment further and directed me to Regal’s customer relations department in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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According to Regal customer relations specialist Jane Roe, “the policy at South Beach and the theaters with VIP auditoriums is you have to have an ID to get into the VIP auditoriums whether you plan on purchasing alcoholic beverages or not.”
“The manager told me it’s not the theater’s policy but it’s what the mayor (Philip Levine) wants,” said Alan Mandel, a Miami Beach native who was turned away from the VIP section on a recent Friday night because he didn’t have ID. He offered to show a copy of his license on his phone but that didn’t work.
“I can get into any club, bar, restaurant and even on a plane in any state with a picture of my license but I can’t get into a movie?” lamented Mandel, who says he won’t return to the theater until they change the policy.
“I don’t necessarily want to be in a theater where they are serving alcohol anyway. I just want a little peace and quiet so I can hear the movie, said Stephen Sawitz, owner of Joe’s Stone Crab. He and his wife, Ross Sawitz, were turned away from the VIP section last fall because she didn’t have a Florida driver’s license, only a Dominican passport, which she had left at home.
“Can you imagine if the maître de at Joe’s required an ID to be seated?” Sawitz quipped.
According to liquor industry consultant Lori Chadroff, CEO of Responsible Vendors, “The standard policy in the business of selling or serving alcohol is that you check anybody who doesn’t look 30 to prove he’s 21. The city ought to follow suit.”
Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco said there’s nothing in the city’s code that requires ID for every entrant. “Blaming others for inflexible, ridiculous rules is just sad. The city wants to prevent alcohol service to minors, not to upset a 70-year-old who forgot his or her driver’s license.”
Grieco says the city has complained to the top brass at Regal about the ongoing problems.
“We have certainly recognized that we have a problem with checking everyone's ID at the VIP entrance,” said Rob Del Moro, Chief Technical & Theater Operations Officer for Regal Entertainment Group in an email to Commissioner Grieco.
Del Moro said Regal planned to meet with the Miami Beach city attorney to discuss the issue and attempt to eliminate the service issues.
“In the meantime we have advised the theater management that a blanket answer to an upset guest should not be ‘It's the city's fault,’” Del Moro wrote in the email.
Stay tuned for updates and feel free to comment.
COLLINS PARK CONCERTS
The Collins Park Neighborhood Association and Global Arts Project are presenting a 2016 ArtScape Concert Series. It will feature four Sunday afternoon concerts in Collins Park, between 21st and 22nd streets, to celebrate Black History month, Brazilian Carnival, Haitian Flag Day and Hispanic Heritage Month.
The inaugural concert, featuring acclaimed jazz singer Nicole Henry, takes place Sunday, Feb. 14, from 2 to 5 pm. It will also include a student ensemble and farmer’s market.
“Guests just need to bring a blanket or chair to enjoy these great free concerts — and should take time afterward to explore the neighborhood,” said Ray Breslin, president of the Collins Park Neighborhood Association.
To learn more, download the free Collins Park mobile app or visit www.globalartsproject.org.
HELP STOP SEX TRAFFICKING
The city of Miami Beach Human Rights Committee and the Life of Freedom Center (www.lofcenter.org) want parents to know that children in South Florida are vulnerable to sex trafficking — and to empower them to help.
“Protecting our kids from sex trafficking starts with awareness,” says Jorge Veitia, executive director of the nonprofit Life of Freedom Center.
He suggests that parents talk to their children to help them recognize signs of exploitation and how to report it, as well as to know more about what children and their friends are doing on social media, while away from home and at school.
Local residents can learn more about sex trafficking during a special event 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.
Attendees will view the anti-trafficking documentary video Chosen and participate in a Q&A with local anti-trafficking experts. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beach Buzz appears every other Sunday, and focuses on people and businesses throughout the Beaches, Aventura and Miami. To reach Debra K. Leibowitz, call 305-531-7887 or email email@example.com, or become a fan of her Beach Buzz page on Facebook.