Food

Tarpon Bend closed. A famous nightclub owner is opening a new restaurant in its place

Tarpon Bend in Coral Gables announced Feb. 11 that it was closing for good. Nightclub owner Roman Jones is opening a new restaurant at the location.
Tarpon Bend in Coral Gables announced Feb. 11 that it was closing for good. Nightclub owner Roman Jones is opening a new restaurant at the location.

One of Miami’s nightlife kings is pumping the party back up on Miracle Mile.

Roman Jones, the owner of several nightclubs including Miami Beach’s Mokai Lounge, has signed a lease for a new restaurant at the site of the former Tarpon Bend at 65 Miracle Mile, according to Kerdyk Real Estate, which handled the deal.

The restaurant will be called The Gramercy, will feature “an approachable menu and a lively atmosphere,” and is slated to open for the holiday season, his representatives said.

Jones’ influence isn’t limited to party music. His restaurants, the celebrity hangouts Kiki on the River and Mandrake, trade as much on their see-and-be-seen status as on what’s on the plate. And both capture a variety of Miami spirits.

Kiki on the River “couldn’t be more charmingly Miami,” a Miami Herald dining reviewer wrote in October 2017, “a high-end restaurant with ambitious and authentic Greek food, yet it has elements of a nightclub.”

Jones’ newest, Mandrake, which opened on Miami Beach earlier this year, is more “clubby atmosphere and Tokyo Bordello decor,” according to a Herald story that described “solid” Asian-influenced fare.

Jones’ involvement is good news to the fans of the former Tarpon Bend, where lines of patrons regularly spilled out onto the sidewalk and the neighboring courtyard outside the bar. It was part restaurant, singles bar and overall a Coral Gables scene. And Jones was able to establish clubs that were hits with Miami, including the late Mansion and Opium Garden, and he was a minority owner for a time of the famed Club Space.

But the previous owner closed Tarpon Bend when he couldn’t withstand rent hikes, a result of rents rising on the Mile after a $24 million streetscape renovation.

The parties at Jones’ clubs do tend to draw headlines — and not always in the best ways. Last March, a woman in a bikini thong rode a white horse into Mokai Lounge, which prompted a Miami Beach police investigation. The city temporarily revoked Mokai’s business license before hitting it with heavy fines. Jones later bought the horse and retired it to private care, where it serves as a therapy animal to children, the Herald reported.

Jones’ new restaurant would be able to take advantage of a massive 6,300 square-foot restaurant with an outdoor breezeway dining space. And it clearly has an edge with a built-in fan base of former Tarpon Bend patrons.

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