Miami Beach’s top administrator has ordered the shutdown of an Ocean Drive restaurant where customers have routinely complained that they were tricked into ordering overpriced meals and then hit with exorbitant bills.
But it wasn’t only sales tactics that caused City Manager Jimmy Morales to revoke La Baguette Restaurant’s business license and sidewalk cafe permit. He says Beach police and code enforcement officers conducted a sting where they observed the restaurant’s wait staff repeatedly selling alcohol to minors and giving them containers to take the booze with them, facilitating violations of the city’s open container laws.
The restaurant was given three citations for failing to disclose menu prices at sidewalk cafe tables and three for allowing patrons to walk away with open containers of alcohol.
The two citations for selling alcohol to minors and allowing people to walk away with open containers are what led Morales to shut down the restaurant.
“Based on the nature and gravity of the allegations uncovered, I determined that this presented an actual threat to the public health, welfare and safety, and it was imperative that we acted swiftly to remedy this situation,” Morales said in a statement Thursday evening.
The city announced that three of the restaurant’s servers were arrested and will be charged with selling, giving or serving an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age, a second degree misdemeanor.
The business has the right to appeal the revocation of its license.
On Friday morning, a wooden pallet blocked the entry to the restaurant’s patio. Chairs, tables and hookah pipes were stacked inside, and no one from the business appeared to be inside. Multiple code violation notices were taped to the window and wall.
La Baguette Restaurant, located at 1052 Ocean Dr., has been routinely lambasted by visitors in online restaurant review forums after customers felt ripped off by deceptive sales practices.
Such practices by the restaurant and a few others are the subject of a proposed ordinance to give the city more rights to punish businesses who do not clearly advertise prices on menus at sidewalk cafe tables.
Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who is sponsoring the ordinance, said he was happy to see the city take action against “bad operators” that he believes give Ocean Drive a bad reputation.
“It’s unfortunate that it has to come to this,” he said. “But it’s important that people see that we are going to take strong action.”
His ordinance will be presented for an initial vote Feb. 14 at the City Commission.