Miami Beach

Miami Beach commission approves ban on alcohol sales at sidewalk cafés after 2 a.m.

Effective May 30, city law will prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol at sidewalk cafes throughout the city between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Effective May 30, city law will prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol at sidewalk cafes throughout the city between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Late-night South Beach revelers who want to sit outside with their drinks will have a new last call for booze starting May 30.

During a public hearing Wednesday, Miami Beach commissioners unanimously approved a ban on selling alcohol at sidewalk cafes from 2 to 8 a.m. The change, touted by Mayor Philip Levine as a measure to reduce crime and “clean up” cafe-lined Ocean Drive, takes effect May 30.

Last call for the impacted venues will be at 1:30 a.m., with a 2 a.m. cutoff for consumption.

The ordinance was scaled down from its original form. Mayor Philip Levine had originally proposed to stop alcohol sales at 2 a.m. in all outdoor areas, including sidewalk cafés, patios and outside bars.

Now the citywide rule only applies to sidewalk cafés. But the conversation has mostly centered around Ocean Drive, known for its busy nightlife and crowded sidewalks cafés with expensive drinks.

Some business owners opposed part or all of the measure.

Joshua Wallack, chief operating officer for Mango’s Tropical Cafe, said the city did not need to put language in the ordinance to make sure alcohol sales stopped at 1:30 a.m. Restaurant staff can make sure there are no bottles on outside tables by 2 a.m, he said.

Kyle Eldridge, owner of the Johnny Rockets on Ocean Drive, said his eight outside tables are among his most profitable, and he doesn’t see how this ordinance will help make the area more pleasant for visitors.

“I’m not sure what that will accomplish,” he said. “I don’t think that this is going to solve anything.”

Eldridge, along with other neighboring business representatives, said the city would be better served if it cracked down on people drinking from open containers in the streets — which is outlawed in the Beach — and other code violations that they say run rampant in the entertainment district.

Police have said the area would be easier to patrol with the earlier cutoff. Levine reiterated his stance that the ordinance is the first step to make Ocean Drive safer and more welcoming for families.

“What we do believe is that it’s one small step in what is going to be a long journey,” he said.

Commissioner Ed Tobin supported the concept, but he said he looked forward to more ideas that will result from conversations with a planned task force to address issues on Ocean Drive.

“I’m going to support this today, although I don’t know if it’s the most precise way of preventing crime on Ocean Drive or classing up Ocean Drive,” he said.

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