This lively Coral Gables restaurant was a happy hour favorite. It just closed for good

Tarpon Bend Coral Gables to host a Sam Adams beer dinner Oct. 26.
Tarpon Bend Coral Gables to host a Sam Adams beer dinner Oct. 26.

The party’s over at Tarpon Bend.

Friday night happy hours on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables won’t be the same after the restaurant and bar closed its second and final location, its owner announced in a Facebook post Sunday.

“It has been a true honor to serve each of you and your loved ones for so many wonderful years,” owner Wayne Eldred posted. “Thank you for the many fond memories, the weddings, engagements, proposals, family parties and allowing us to throw the most legendary happy hours for the last 15 years running.”

Lines of patrons reliably spilled out onto sidewalk and neighboring courtyard outside the bar, which was one of the busiest restaurants in Coral Gables, particularly on weekends.

A single’s scene, lunch go-to and after-work spot, Tarpon Bend was one of the largest and longest-running venues on Miracle Mile. It retained weekend crowds even after the city’s $21 million, year-long renovation tore up the road out front.

“We were an anchor to that building, and we were an anchor to Miracle Mile,” Eldred said.

Wayne Eldred of Tarpon Bend in Coral Gables

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But clearly change was afoot.

Eldred said after the building in which Tarpon Bend resided was sold five years ago, his expenses started to go up. The building was sold to New York based CF Miracle Mile Holding Company in 2013 for $21.5 million, up from the $14.6 million for which it sold two years previous. Eldred said the landlord’s higher taxes and higher maintenance costs were passed on to his Tarpon Bend.

“We went back and forth with the landlord for the last two years and it just ended in a stalemate,” he said.

Eldred said his costs went up “almost a million dollars” combined in the last five years. “That’s a lot of fish fingers and French fries,” he said.

In May, the restaurant’s original location in Fort Lauderdale closed after its parent company, the Restaurant People, sold the space to a real-estate development group. But Eldred said his business was separate from the Fort Lauderdale spot.

Eldred said he will focus on his catering company and restaurant consulting to keep other businesses from having to go through what his did. The Tarpon Bend brand isn’t dead, he said, and he may open a new version in a new location. If he does, the happy hour tokens he gave to regular patrons for discounted drinks will be honored.

“Save ‘em,” he said. “We want to take care of the people who took care of us.”

Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frías won the 2018 James Beard award for excellence in covering the food industry. A Miami native, he’s also the author of “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba.”